Insurance has become more complex recently and it's now even more important to check carefully all the details of your own insurance cover and decide whether you are satisfied with it. This page provides up-to-date advice on insurance issues.
Everyone participating in a Club activity must be aware of the hazard and risk associated with ski touring, ski mountaineering and related activities. As a member, you must accept this risk and ensure that you maintain appropriate and adequate insurance cover for the activity you are undertaking. The Club is not a tour operator, and it is an individual members responsibility to arrange the appropriate insurance cover. This webpage provides an overview on:
- The Club’s position on insurance, including the minimum personal accident, rescue and medical insurance requirements to allow participation in Club activities.
- The Club’s corporate liability insurance arrangements.
- Other types of insurance that members are required or advised to have in order to participate in Club activities.
- The insurance impacts of COVID-19 and the UK’s departure from the EU.
- What to consider when selecting an insurance policy.
When it comes to choosing insurance, all the information below is advisory only, you must check it and take the final decisions for yourself.
Hazards of our sport and the need for adequate insurance cover
Like any outdoor activity, ski touring and ski mountaineering come with their own particular hazards and risks. Each ski tourer and ski mountaineer must accept, recognise and manage these risks: being well prepared and being part of a well-functioning team is essential.
Therefore, the Officers and the Committee of the Eagle Ski Club remind members that, despite the greatest care, accidents may still occur. All participants in any Club activity should be aware of and accept the inherent risk associated with the activity, be responsible for their own actions and involvement, and ensure that they have adequate insurance cover for the activity being undertaken.
The Club also advises members to look at how much additional insurance they need in order to cover risks such as cancellation of travel arrangements and accommodation bookings. Not all policies cover these risks in the same way and each policy should be carefully checked to ensure that it provides the cover required.
MEMBERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHECKING THEIR OWN INSURANCE AND ENSURING THAT IT IS ADEQUATE FOR THEIR NEEDS.
Personal accident, rescue and medical insurance
If you want to take part in Club activities that involve ski touring, ski mountaineering or any off-piste activity, you must have adequate personal accident and search & rescue insurance cover to pay the cost of “getting you off the mountain” by helicopter if necessary, and to pay for any extended local hospitalisation and/or repatriation. Such cover should extend to all medical emergencies and not just accidents. Given that levels of cover provided by policies vary, you are advised to read policies carefully and check exactly:
- what activities are covered
- what search and rescue costs are covered
- what the exclusions are, for example in terms of activity, geographical area or altitude
You must ensure that the levels of cover provided are adequate for the activities you intend to undertake.
The Club's Combined Liability Insurance
The Club has Combined Liability Insurance cover through its affiliation with Mountaineering Scotland. This provides public liability cover for all members, who are UK residents, while they take part in Club activities, as well as their own general mountaineering and ski mountaineering activities.
Due to the specifics of the Mountaineering Scotland policy, there are a number of exclusions to the Club's Combined Liability Insurance, most importantly:
- Downhill piste skiing and lift accessed off piste skiing are not covered, except in the context of a ski tour. Therefore, you should consider arranging third party liability cover through your personal travel insurance, or schemes which may be on offer with the purchase of a lift pass. In all cases you should check the levels of cover offered.
- Non-UK residents are not covered by the Club’s Combined Liability Cover. In order to take part in Club activities, non-UK resident members must arrange third party liability cover of at least £2,000,000. Such insurance may be available through personal insurance arrangements or membership of the national alpine club of the members country of residence. In all cases, non-UK resident members should check the details of their third-party liability cover.
- Claims brought in North American Courts. Whilst the coverage is global, the policy specifically excludes claims brought in North American Courts.
Further information is available from the Mountaineering Scotland website:
COVID-19 and end of the EU withdrawal transition period
Given the uncertainty arising from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the UK’s departure from the EU, you must keep up to date with developments and ensure that your insurance arrangements are suitable before you travel. The travel insurance section on the Association of British Insurers website is a useful resource:
Remember to check and follow the UK Government’s travel advice – failure to do so could invalidate your travel insurance. You should also remember to check the regulations of the countries that you plan to visit. The UK Government’s travel advice is available at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
The rules on travelling to and from European Union countries have changed from 1 January 2021, now that the implementation period agreed with the EU has ended. The government has published information on travelling in the EU on the GOV.uk website.
UK citizens will be allowed to stay in the EU for 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. If you plan to travel to the EEA there are a number of things you will need to consider before you travel, and you may need to act now.
This might include obtaining a green card if you’re a motorist and checking the terms of any insurance policies you hold including travel insurance.
The deal negotiated by the UK government will allow those issued with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before the end of 2020 to continue to use it before its expiry date. If you’re travelling to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, your EHIC will only be valid up to 31 December 2020. EU national’s resident in the UK may apply for a new UK EHIC card, while UK nationals will apply for UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in the European Union (EU).
As a bare minimum your travel insurance should cover COVID-19 related overseas emergency medical claims, and indeed some insurers such as the BMC will now also cover COVID cancellation costs. However, there is a need to scrutinise the small print, as some policies such as the BMC will only cover COVID-19 emergency medical expenses and repatriation if you have been fully vaccinated or are exempt from vaccination on genuine medical grounds. Similarly your COVID Cancellation cover may only apply if you and your travelling companions are fully vaccinated or are exempt from vaccination on genuine medical grounds. Here is a link to how Covid-19 affects the BMC travel insurance policy:
Selecting an insurance policy
The policy or policies you need will depend very much on your personal circumstances, existing cover, age and activities foreseen. You must take particular care to look at exclusions and limitations on the policy: the small print is important, and the devil is in the detail.
What is absolutely essential is that your insurance policy covers:
- the cost of getting you off the mountain in the event of an accident (i.e. helicopter rescue)
- the cost of urgent medical support
- adequate third-liability cover if you are a non-UK resident
Things you should consider when selecting your insurance policy include:
- whether your insurance cover is adequate for your needs
- whether you have identified and understood the implications of any exclusions to the policy, which may be based on age, geographical area, altitude, activity to be undertaken, COVID-19 or some other factor
Cancellation insurance for both travel and accommodation costs advisable, though is likely to exclude COVID-19.
So, for example, membership of the Austrian Alpine Club UK (which also gives you reciprocal rights in most Alpine Huts) includes the cost of search and rescue without age restrictions, but the medical costs covered are limited to 10,000 Euros (as of July 2020), and there are geographical exclusions to the cover, including all areas north of the Arctic Circle. However, you can increase the medical cover provided through the Austrian Alpine Club by purchasing an additional policy with their insurer.
Other insurers you may wish to consider include the British Mountaineering Council (BMC), Snowcard, and Protectivity.
The ESC tour application form for 2021 includes the statement that you “will be adequately insured for all foreseeable rescue, medical and third-party risks”, and that you acknowledge that “I may wish to insure myself for any losses connected with cancellation, however that may occur, should I choose to do so”.
Your participation in a Club activity is made on this basis, and it is your responsibility to arrange the appropriate insurance cover required for the activity you are undertaking.
The Club aims to assist members by providing information and advice, but the final decision and final responsibility is yours.
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