An estimated third of British holiday makers are tempted by daredevil activities whilst on holiday but many do not realise that these adrenaline-filled activities might not be covered by their travel insurance. This is particularly poignant for students on gap years or travelling between study, following recent tragic cases including that of Emily Jordan, the 21 year old British gap year student who died whilst river boarding in New Zealand. The Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) is urging Brits to prepare fully and research the company providing the adventure experiences before they embark on holidays ranging from sky diving to skiing.
Alice Draper from the FCO says: “Adventure activities are really popular with young people but it is essential to take out travel insurance before you go and read the small print to check that all your adventure activities are covered. Lots of insurance policies have exclusions which mean that certain activities may not be covered, which can leave you with a huge bill. For example, if you break a leg skiing, a trip in the ambulance and full treatment could cost you up to £10,000. Taking some simple preparations, such as ensuring your insurance policy covers you for everything you are likely to do, could mean the difference between an adventure break to remember and one you’d give anything to forget.”
One such holiday nightmare was experienced by Warren, 20, who went on a skiing holiday with a group of friends. Towards the middle of the holiday he was racing down a black run with friends who were more experienced skiers than him. Warren had a bad fall and came round a few minutes later to find himself being strapped to a stretcher by medics. After a painful few hours in hospital, Warren was discharged with a broken collarbone and a €4,500 bill for the mountain rescue, transport and medical costs, because he had not arranged comprehensive travel insurance.
The FCO advises that as well as checking you have the correct insurance, you should also do your research into the company you are taking part in the activities with. Do not be afraid to ask to see their qualifications and company insurance – they should be more than happy to share these with you, and if they are not, you should consider going with another company.
On top of the advice above here are some further tips for those travelling abroad and taking part in extreme sports. First and foremost, it is essential to take out travel insurance when taking any trip abroad, no matter how short your trip, and if participating in high-risk activities such as sky diving, skiing or snowboarding, you must ensure that your policy covers these. Once on holiday, remember when skiing or snowboarding that alcohol affects the body quicker at high altitudes and most insurers will not pay out for injuries sustained under the influence of alcohol. In addition, you should stick to the rules and instructions given by your guide or instructor and research your destination in case local laws and customs differ from those in the UK.
While you will have to take original copies of certain documents with you, it is a good idea to make photocopies or store copies of important documentation (passport, insurance details, credit card number and cancellation details) online using a secure online data storage site. If travelling in Europe, take your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) as it entitles you to reduced cost or free healthcare in most European countries. Remember though, the EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance – you must have both to be fully covered.
There is a lot to think about when travelling abroad, but is absolutely imperative that you arrange all of the above before you leave. That way, once you are on holiday you can relax and enjoy yourself, safe in the knowledge that should anything happen to you, you will be fully covered.
For more tips if you are planning an adventure sports break, check out www.fco.gov.uk/travel