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Columbus Direct ski research finds younger generation are more cautious on ski slopes

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Surprising research from travel insurance specialist Columbus Direct has found the younger generation are more cautious when it comes to safety on the slopes, with younger skiers and snowboarders being more mindful of safety and more likely to wear a helmet.

The Columbus Direct ski survey for 2013 found two thirds (66%) of 16-24 year olds will always wear a helmet on the slopes and, in comparison, almost half (48%) of those aged 55 and above said they would never wear a helmet.

In total, only 20% of Brits say they would wear a helmet if their insurer insisted. The worst again are the older generation with only 4% of those aged 45 and above saying they would wear a helmet only if their insurer insisted, compared to 26% of those aged 16 to 34.

Interestingly, over 90% of those aged 45 and above do not wear a helmet because they ‘never have’, which may mean this age group thinks they are experienced enough not to worry about safety gear.

Greg Lawson, Head of Retail at Columbus Direct says: “Like most insurers, cover under a Columbus policy is not based on a compulsory requirement to wear a helmet. However, we would encourage all skiers to take appropriate safety precautions when on the slopes and recommend wearing helmets and other protective gear. Falling onto compacted snow on the piste at speed can be like landing on concrete so it’s worth the investment.

Almost two thirds of those aged 16 to 34 say they are cautious on the slopes compared to only 37% of those aged 45 and above. 60% of those aged 45 and over will snowboard as aggressively as their ability level allows compared to 35% of those aged 16 to 34.

Lawson continues: “Many skiers often fail to purchase the correct level of cover for their needs. A standard single trip travel insurance policy is unlikely to cover winter sports automatically, so I recommend skiers check that they have included a Winter sports add-on and that this provides the specialist cover that suits their planned activity.

Many travel insurance policies often exclude more spontaneous activities such as going off-piste (especially outside of the resort boundaries or without a guide) but also perceived low-risk activities such as tobogganing, ice-skating and even reindeer sleigh rides! Many leisure skiers are also unaware that too much mulled wine over lunch at the mountain restaurant may render their policy invalid, so the inevitable corny conclusion is to stay off the wine but on the piste.”

The survey also found that half of Brits do not wear or carry any safety gear while skiing or snowboarding. Over 60% of those aged 45 and over say they do not wear any safety gear compared to 42% of those aged 16 to 34, again showing that the younger generation are more safety conscious. When it comes to the gender divide, the research found 61% of women do not carry any safety gear compared to 39% of men showing men are maybe more aware of the risks they are prepared to take.

The top 3 pieces of safety equipment carried on the slopes by Brits:

– Wrist guards – 26%

– ABS system – 18%

– Avalanche transceiver – 16%

Lawson concludes: “There are a variety of safety items that skiers should consider when going on the slopes in addition to a helmet. These can include standard protection such as wrist guards to protect you from fractures or, for those who venture off-piste, avalanche airbags and snow shovels should be considered.

Skiers tend to be creatures of habit, wanting the adrenaline rush that the sport can deliver time after time. Consequently, there is a greater accident risk on the slopes than on the beach so travel insurance is an essential trip purchase, even for the fittest skier. We want our customers to have a great holiday but also to be aware of the potential risks so that they maximise their time on the slopes and not in a hospital bed.”