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Eye-watering cost of medical treatment abroad makes travel insurance so important

Winter sports may be more popular than ever, but if you’re unfortunate enough to have an accident on the slopes the cost of private overseas medical is also rapidly on the rise. Thankfully, the majority of people who go skiing and snowboarding enjoy taking part in the activity without ever getting injured. But injuries are still common – and they can happen to anyone at any time.

When an accident does occur which requires private healthcare, the costs incurred are often much more expensive than most people realise.

According to recent research carried out by health provider Bupa Global, the sum needed to receive medical care for a broken leg can vary by up to £5,000 in popular skiing destinations around the world.

Canada topped the list as the most expensive place to get treatment – at a cost of £7,027. The cheapest overseas skiing location for medical treatment is Austria at £2,237. In the UK, you would expect to pay £1,930 for private healthcare following a ski accident.

These average figures were taken from Bupa’s aggregate claims data from 2014 to 2017, but holidaymakers could face even higher bills in future if private healthcare fees continue to rise.

In my experience, broken legs are one of the most frequent injuries I see when dealing with snowboarding and skiing accident claims. Head injuries, knee injuries, dislocated joints and broken arms are also commonplace.

Whether the injury has been caused by the individual themselves or another holidaymaker, the main contributory factors are usually speed and inexperience on the slopes.

This is why I always advise anyone who is going on a winter sports holiday to take out a suitable level of travel insurance cover – to help meet the costs should any medical expenses be incurred.

Whenever you buy travel insurance, don’t just buy the cheapest or most basic policy – always make sure it’s the right fit for you and your holiday. Otherwise, you may find you’re only covered up to a certain amount or not covered at all in certain circumstances.

In most cases, travel insurance will only cover the costs associated with medical treatment, lost luggage or a delayed or cancelled flight.

It will NOT compensate you for any pain or suffering you experience, loss of earnings or any care you may need on returning home.

Should you suffer an injury on a winter sports holiday, your first priority is to make sure you receive the necessary medical care; these expenses can usually be reclaimed through your travel insurance.

Once your well-being is taken care of and you’re back on track, weigh up whether the accident was your fault. You could be entitled to pursue a claim for compensation if your injuries were:

  • Caused by another skier’s negligent actions
  • As a result of a hidden obstruction you couldn’t be expected to anticipate
  • Due to teaching unsafe techniques or poor ski school instruction
  • Because of the negligent care of a ski guide or tour representative
  • As a result of faulty equipment (bindings, skis, ski lift or ski tow)

Having successfully represented many people, for more than a decade, involved in snowboarding and skiing accidents, I understand that thrill-seekers are often more concerned about when they’ll be able to enjoy the slopes again rather than any settlement they might receive.

But that doesn’t mean they should be left to endure pain or financial hardship whilst they recover – especially in light of the increasing cost of overseas medical care and the fact the injuries they suffer are often incurred through no fault of their own.

Should you or someone you know suffer an injury on a winter sports holiday one of our expert travel litigation solicitors will advise whether you can pursue a civil claim for compensation.

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