It’s no secret that US costs for medical assistance rank among the highest in the world. Without proper Emergency Medical Insurance coverage, a claim could cost Canadians hundreds of thousands of dollars. And with winter just around the corner, it’s important to know which winter sport or activity is and isn’t covered by your travel insurance policy, so you can head down the slopes on your upcoming snowy vacation, worry-free!

Keep in mind that Emergency Medical plans are comprehensive enough that you typically won’t need special coverage to take part in recreational winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and even dog-sledding. But it’s also important to understand why claims are sometimes denied, regardless of emergencies, injuries or sickness resulting from winter sports and activities.

Common reasons winter sports travel insurance claims are denied

Emergencies that result from intoxication due to alcohol or drugs typically aren’t covered by travel insurance.

Intoxication from or abuse of alcohol and drug consumption

Abuse of alcohol or intoxication can be a major cause for emergency medical travel insurance claims, but they aren’t covered—so go easy on the après-ski!

The abuse or misuse of intoxicants—including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medication, controlled drugs and illegal substances—taken before or during your trip is also a major factor for claim denials.

What about marijuana? It became legal in Canada on October 17, 2018, and abusing or misusing it can result in claim denies too. Read more about cannabis use and travel insurance coverage.

Many winter sports or activities that go beyond recreational levels are covered by one type of Optional Sports Coverage.
  1. Not having the correct type of Optional Sports Coverage

Participating in, coaching, teaching, training or practicing for a number of adventure or extreme sports and activities, including competitions, require specific types of Optional Sports Coverage:

  • Athletes over 18 years old, on behalf of a registered team, league, association, or club, or those competing in a registered tournament or sporting event, can complement their standard Emergency Medical benefits with Contact Sports Coverage. This includes ice hockey, among other contact sports.
  • Outdoor thrill-seekers can match their adrenaline levels with added coverage through optional Adventure Sports Coverage. These snowy activities include backcountry skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing, downhill skating and freestyle skiing, high-risk snowmobiling, bobsledding, ice climbing, mountaineering up to 6,000 m and others.
  • Extreme Sports Coverage, is ideal for travellers who like their adventures more on the extreme side of things, with activities like motorized speed contests, motorized X Game sports, base jumping, mountaineering over 6,000 m and more.
Stay within the boundaries designated by safety authorities—they’re there for a reason!
  1. Engaging in out-of-bounds winter sports and activities

Even with the right Optional Sports Coverage, participating in, coaching, teaching, training or practicing in out-of-bounds areas is grounds for having travel insurance claims denied. Out-of-bounds mountain areas include those closed off to public access or those that can only be accessed by crossing a fenced, gated or roped-off area clearly marked as off limits.

As with any travel insurance product, make sure you read the policy to understand what you’ll be covered for. Winter sports and activities vary widely, which means they also vary in risks and potential injuries involved. If you do find yourself having to make a claim—and we hope you won’t ever have to—be sure to read up on how to speed up the claims process.

Have fun out there and be safe!


3 Reasons Why Travel Insurance Claims for Winter Sports Get Denied

Nov 27 2018