How to stay the right side of a mountain rescue bill

Ski insurance. It’s a minefield out there. Does it cover off-piste? Mountain rescue? Bleugh. But never fear, there is another way

This is not a good start... | Callum Jelley

This is not a good start… | Callum Jelley

It’s all too easy to end up the wrong side of the hefty medical bill. Too many of us blindly tick a few boxes online, without so much as a first glance at the policy wording. In fact, according to a recent poll, 36% of Brits head abroad with incorrect insurance, relying on their EHIC cards to cover hospital fees and mountain rescue.

We’ve all heard the horror stories, of uncle Jim’s mate’s cousin who had insurance, but had to swipe his credit card when he was carted off in a helicopter. We all think it won’t happen to us, but do you really want to risk being £20,000 out of pocket? Didn’t think so.

Here’s a brief guide to sports-specific medical cards and policies that you can add to your existing travel policy. So now you can try that switch 360 with slightly less niggling doubt.

CARRÉ NEIGE/CARTE NEIGE

The Carré Neige is the best known of the bunch, and for good reason. It can be bought along with your ski pass in most French resorts, costing €2.80 per day. It covers you for transport off the mountain, either on or off-piste, and is instantly recognised by the French rescue services, meaning you don’t have to pay up front and claim back later. It’ll also refund your lift pass for days lost to injury.

It’s important to remember that, like all of the schemes mentioned here, it is not a full insurance policy but a top-up cover designed to act in tandem with your state or private health insurance.

The Carte Neige offers the same service, but on an annual basis and covering multiple countries for around €60.

SNOWCARE

Snowcare works in much the same way as the Carré Neige and can be bought with your lift pass in all Swiss resorts (for 5CHF), and some in Italy (€2.50 per day). It’ll cover you for on-slope rescue, transport to hospital by helicopter, medical expenses, transport home and legal assistance. Plus, it’ll refund your lift pass, ski lessons and rental for the days of skiing you missed.

However, it does not cover any accidents that happen off marked pistes, or that result from ‘dangerous’ skiing or alcohol/drug use, so go easy on the Grappa.

FOGG MEDI-CARD

Again, the Fogg Medi-card stops you having to pay up front for on-mountain rescue and medical bills. It’s recognised across European resorts (except for those in Scandinavia and Bulgaria), and consists of a plastic card with the carrier’s details and travel dates on it.

As soon as you show it to mountain rescue, ambulance services and doctors will know to invoice Fogg, not you. Likewise it will cover any hospital bills that aren’t covered by your EHIC. Unlike the Carte Neige and Snowcare offerings, this is included free with a Fogg Travel Insurance policy and not as an add-on to your lift pass. Annual multi-trip insurance starts from £59.

AUSTRIAN ALPINE CLUB

Although many Austrian ski resorts offer their own add-on insurance with their lift passes, there are
also a couple of backcountry-specific options that serve well. One is to become a member
of the Austrian Alpine Club (aacuk.org.uk). For around £40 (depending on age) you’re covered for worldwide mountain rescue, and in addition you get various extra membership benefits that
include access to mountain huts across Europe.

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