Which policies do winter sports enthusiasts really need?


Lerato Khumalo

For many people, skiing is simply part of winter. However, the sport is not without its risks. You should be well insured just in case.

More or less serious incidents occur again and again. “On average, over 100 skiing-related accidents occur every year,” says Mathias Zunk, consumer expert at the German Insurance Association (GDV) in Berlin.

According to figures from private accident insurers, torn muscles and ligaments, strains and sprains are particularly common, followed by broken bones. On average, the cost of accident insurance for a skiing accident is around 7,200 euros. That is significantly more than for car or bicycle accidents, says Zunk.

To ensure that your winter sports holiday doesn’t turn into an expensive affair, snow enthusiasts should check their insurance coverage before their first descent – and update it if necessary.

In order to be prepared for all eventualities, three policies are important: accident and occupational disability insurance (BU) as well as private liability insurance, explains Bianca Boss from the Association of Insured Persons (BdV) in Hamburg.

In the event of permanent disability, the accident insurance pays the contractually agreed lump sum and/or a pension. The accident insurance also covers extensive search, rescue and recovery costs, which statutory health insurance companies usually only partially cover – at least up to the agreed sum insured.

It also covers transport home or to a nearby hospital. “Depending on the contract, accommodation for relatives may also be insured,” says Zunk.

Occupational disability insurance kicks in when you can no longer work in your job for health reasons. Good policies pay insured people a pension if they can no longer perform their job to at least 50 percent for six months or more.

The catch: the protection is not cheap. For monthly pensions between 1,000 and 2,000 euros, annual contributions of between 490 and 880 euros can be due. The amount of the contribution depends on the health of the insured person and their profession. Pre-existing conditions and a high occupational risk can also make taking out BU insurance extremely difficult.

Private liability insurance is also essential. This is because the same applies when skiing: Anyone who causes an accident and harms others must pay for the resulting costs – up to an unlimited amount and with all of their assets. This can drive the person responsible into financial ruin. To prevent this, liability insurance covers all costs that the person who caused the damage may incur.

It is important that the insurance sum is high enough: According to Stiftung Warentest, it should be at least ten million euros flat rate for personal injury and property damage. The protection should also apply abroad. Very good protection is available for less than 100 euros per year.

Health insurance for abroad

Anyone who goes skiing abroad should definitely have international health insurance, recommends Sandra Klug from the Hamburg Consumer Advice Center. According to her, such a policy costs around ten euros a year.

The advantage of international health insurance is that, in the event of an emergency, holidaymakers do not have to pay the treatment costs themselves. In addition, the provider usually pays for medically necessary repatriation to Germany – something that statutory health insurance companies generally do not do.

However, given the Corona pandemic, skiers should carefully check whether their insurance offers sufficient protection and will also pay out in the event of a travel warning.

The general rule is: “Hands off short-term policies,” advises Boss. Although such insurance policies, which promise 48-hour accident protection on the slopes, for example, have become rare, they have not completely disappeared from the market.

“A short-term policy is not worth it,” stresses Boss. They are usually too low in terms of benefits – and then again too expensive for the relatively small number of vacation days in the snow. Especially compared to good and inexpensive annual policies, which are always worthwhile. After all, an accident can happen every day, not just during winter sports.