The levels of medical care and evacuation methods we have access to today in ski resorts is generally excellent. Ski patrol staff are highly trained and experienced in assessing casualty situations and dealing with them in an appropriate and professional manner.
Ski resorts have a duty of care to their customers and will act accordingly to protect and secure the safety of skiers and snowboarders by using all available resources. All of this comes at a cost and without ski insurance you could be left with a massive hole in your wallet in the event of an accident.
It does not matter what level of skier you are and although fortunately, serious accidents are relatively rare, if they happen you will need to be evacuated from the mountain. In my own personal experience, I have dealt with many accidents that have occurred on the mountain. These range from suspected ligament damage, to broken legs, head and back injuries and avalanche rescues. Decisions need to be made quickly in those situations and there is no time to start taking risks with people’s health.
Several years ago, I dealt with an avalanche victim that did not have ski insurance. I was shocked when he told me this as we were off-piste and well away from any ski lift station. He knew the risks yet chose not to be insured. He required helicopter assistance as he had a broken leg, but did not want to pay the huge sum for the rescue costs. Other people became involved and he was brought down the mountain without helicopter assistance, which took several hours. This put him, in my opinion, in extreme danger and I strongly disagreed with what happened. He was lucky to survive.
More recently, I had the unfortunate scenario of a pupil in my group falling on a perfect piste on a perfect day. He fell hard onto his shoulder and we suspected a fracture or dislocation. We were joined by the ski patrol who called in a helicopter immediately. Within 30 minutes he was in a local hospital being treated and was out that evening. He did have a dislocated shoulder and without the helicopter rescue I believe that the injury could have become worse whilst on a bumpy stretcher ride down the mountain. Without ski insurance the helicopter rescue would have been impossible.
Fortunately these kind of incidents are rare, but the risk of anything happening without ski insurance is not worth thinking about. If you are choosing to ski off piste it’s really important to ensure your policy covers off piste skiing and what off piste skiing means in the context of the policy.
Personally, I would never go into the mountains without good ski insurance. I hope I never need to use it, but I know it’s there, and I’d rather be in that helicopter than figuring out how to get down a mountain with a broken leg.