Sports in this context can relate to any activity with a higher than standard risk. Examples might include: –
- Winter sports like Skiing and Snowboarding
- Cycling / Mountain biking
- Hot Air Ballooning
- Parachute jumping
- Gliding from water or land surfaces
- Horse Riding
- Bungee Jumping
- Pot Holing
- Scuba Diving
This list is not exclusive but gives an idea of the type of activities we will explore in this post.
If you are travelling for an activity then you probably have questions around the following topics: –
- Is my equipment covered?
- Am I covered whilst doing my sport / activity?
- If I crash are my medical bills covered?
- Is evacuation covered?
- What if I’m racing?
- Is what I’m doing professional?
- How about family or friends that I’m travelling with?
- What if I get injured before the trip?
1) Is My equipment covered?
Most travel insurance policies will cover your belongings up to a certain value. If you have good quality equipment like a bicycle or snow board it is highly likely that the limits will not cover your equipment in the event of damage
The most common solution to this is to make sure that your equipment is listed on your home contents policy under “World Wide All Risks”.
Expect to pay about 1% of the value per year for this. It is worth it as it will cover your stuff at home as well as over seas.
A quick example from real life; I had a crash on a bike that was less than 2 weeks old and bent the frame at the rear. My home insurance paid for a new frame with no fuss or complaint.
2) Am I covered whilst doing my sport / activity?
Many travel insurance policies have specific exclusions such as no racing, and no professional involvement in sports or activities generally.
If you get anything from doing your sport including sponsorship, paid travel. paid meals etc then you may be classed as participating for compensation and thus professional. This will almost always mean you are not covered. In this scenario ask the event organizers whether they have arranged cover.
If your sport is not listed on the policy then ask before you travel, e.g. Am I covered for scuba diving? What is the maximum depth that is covered? Do you cover decompression treatment?
For Winter Sports it is common to find a rule which states that you may participate within the bounds of the resort. In deep snow this essentially rules out off-piste activity – as you would not be able to see the markers if they are under the snow.
Read the policy as it relates to your sport or activity. Triathletes in particular should heed the no racing rules which usually specify no racing except on foot, or more generously except on foot or swimming.
If you crash your bike in a race you will not be covered for repairs, evacuation or medical treatment – under most policies. Remember there are two kinds of cyclists – those that have crashed, and those that haven’t YET.
3) If I crash are my medical bills covered?
This is the main purpose of travel insurance, as it is the biggest cost you are likely to face. Providing your cover does not exclude the activity you were doing, you should be covered up to the limit of the policy.
Note that different policies have different claims procedures – the Rolls Royce standard which is expensive allows you to simply present a card and all the bills get paid. Nothing to worry about.
More usually, you may need to pay the bills and claim them back.
Clearly in the event that you have a large medical bill this may not be feasible. Please make sure you have a policy that will provide a hospital guarantee – without this you may not be able to get treatment.
4) If I crash is evacuation covered?
If you stack your bike, or break your leg on the side of a mountain, getting down is not funny.
A full medical evacuation by helicopter is serious money. You do not want to be the one paying those bills.
Evacuation cover is not unusual but please make sure your policy has it.
It is worth knowing that your activity is covered in advance. You don’t want to call that Chopper in, and then find out you shouldn’t have been racing, and the insurance company won’t pay the bill.
5) What if I AM racing?
Please speak to the race organizers first and find out whether they have cover for participants. Clearly this is the best possible outcome but may depend on the size of the race and the quality of the organizers.
If you are racing cars, or boats, or anything with an engine please speak to a broker as there are specialist policies available that can cover you. They may seem expensive… until you have to make a claim, when they will seem like the best investment you ever made.
If you are in a bicycle race or a triathlon simply speak to your travel insurance provider. Our policy does not cover bicycle racing but we can add it in specific cases for a very small additional premium. I assume that other providers would also do this.
6) Is what I’m doing professional?
Your sport’s governing body may have a definition of what is and isn’t professional but that may not be relevant to an insurance company. You may be classified as professional if
- Your flights are paid or subsidised
- Your accommodation whilst travelling is paid or subsidised
- Your meals are provided (as opposed to being included in the fees that every participant pays)
- You receive prize money
- You receive prizes with a monetary value
- You have previously been paid or otherwise rewarded for participating in similar events
Essentially the insurance company is looking for reasons not to pay in these scenarios. Clearly the risks for professional athletes are much higher than in amateur activities.
If you have any doubts please check with your insurer and be straight about what you do or do not get in return for participating. If there are prizes for the top 3 finishers and you expect to come below 100th place you should be fine!
If you are classified as professional speak to a broker who should be able to arrange appropriate cover.
7) What about family or friends that I am travelling with?
In the event that you are hospitalized, or worse yet killed whilst travelling most policies will have clauses that cover things like repatriation of children, or the cost of flying a relative out for a compassionate visit.
There should be cover to repatriate you after treatment – you may need special accommodations for your return travel although generally unless there is a medical reason you will be in standard economy class seating.
You should carry a copy of your policy documents with you in your suitcase so that relatives, or friends can easily contact the insurance company in the event that you are not able to do so.
8) What if I get injured before the trip?
This is an area that appears to be very misunderstood. If your travel insurance starts on the day that you travel you have no cover should you get sick, or injured or otherwise be unable to travel before your trip. Despite this I regularly see people requesting their cover to start on the day they travel – even with annual multi trip policies.
Most policies will include 30 days cover prior to travel, so that for example if you get hit by a car, or as happened to one of our members – her husband was diagnosed with a critical illness, and are unable to travel the cost of your flights and hotels will be refunded.
Typically event costs such as race fees are not refundable but there are plans out there that will cover event entry fees. Clearly these are not the cheapest policies you will find on a comparison website
If you are going on an activity based, or adventure type holiday there is a lot more to think about than a standard family trip to a beach resort. Travel insurance is not expensive compared to the cost of the trip, or the cost of your equipment.
If you plan to enter multiple events in a year, get a decent annual policy, or better yet join a travel club where most of the leg work has been done for you.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions – any decent broker will be happy to find out the answers if they don’t know.
You may also want to read our post on whether you should get Travel Insurance?