Backcountry skiing, such as off-piste and heli-skiing, is a growing sport worldwide. Attractive to those who want a more adventurous holiday than your standard tourist activities, this sport provides an adrenaline filled adventure in some of the most scenic locations in the world. But for those intending to venture into the world of adventure tourism, finding a travel insurance company that provides a suitable policy can be difficult. This article explains a bit about backcountry skiing and explains why you need to have an insurance policy that is tailored specifically to meet your requirements.
Backcountry skiing takes you away from the patrolled and groomed slopes of traditional ski resorts and allows you to ski unmarked slopes with natural contours and features. Most extreme skiers engage in backcountry skiing because it is viewed as more challenging than traditional skiing. An increasing number of ski resorts support this form of skiing because the sport hasgrown in popularity.
One of the most common types of backcountry skiing is called off-piste. Off-piste refers to skiing that does not stay on groomed trails but sometimes follows alongside a marked trail (piste). In some countries off-piste is the name for all backcountry skiing that takes place on unmarked slopes i.e. off-piste. Particularly popular in places such as Canada, Japan and the United States, this type of skiing includes skiing in unpatrolled areas and sometimes onto avalanche risk slopes.
Heli-skiing is for those backcountry skiers who want to travel even further from the beaten path and explore pristine and sometimes untouched areas. Travelling by helicopter, skiers are dropped off in unmarked mountainous areas with natural terrain and long descents on fresh powdery snow. Heli-skiing is the ultimate experience for the adventurous skier, starting in the 1960’s this sport is now popular worldwide.
While exhilarating, this type of sport is also filled with dangers that on-piste skiers do not usually encounter. Difficult terrain and unmonitored slopes mean accidents are frequent and sometimes even extreme events will occur such as avalanches. Additionally, what many tourists do not realise is that the medical costs in popular ski destinations such as Japan or Canada are among the highest in the world. Therefore it is important that people undertaking this activity are adequately covered by their insurance policy – should the unexpected happen.
When you are considering adventure travel, you need to find a specialist travel insurance company that understands your need and has policies to cover your trip. High risk activities such as off-piste skiing are often excluded from standard leisure travel insurance policies.
Before committing to purchasing a travel insurance, you need to ask the insurer whether they will cover medical costs associated with off-piste skiing; also whether this would extend to emergency evacuation off the slopes; and whether search and rescue costs would be covered. Many high risk travel policies will cover the medical and evacuation costs, but search and rescue costs are not covered. You should also consider that if you do break a leg or similar while skiing, you would not only be looking for medical cost cover, but it is likely that you may also have to change/upgrade your return ticket home which would incur further expenses.