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Break a leg! With emergency costs of $1.86 million, can you really afford that ski trip?

October 2, 2018 Insurance No Comments Email Email

Last year, more than 1000 Cover-More Travel Insurance customers were involved in winter sports related accidents resulting in almost $1.86 million in emergency expenses. Fortunately, these travellers were not left out of pocket thanks to their travel insurance policy.

One of these travellers was 14 year old Tom Karbowiak from Central West NSW who was on a dream ski holiday with his family and some friends in France when things took a rough turn.

An experienced skier, Tom was on his way back from a ski lesson with a friend when he decided to investigate what he thought was some nice looking powder on the side of the slope. Mistaking ice for snow, he lost his footing and hit the ice hard.

After lying there for a few minutes, Tom and his friend skied back to his family who took him to the nearest medical centre. X-Rays showed no broken bones and there were no clear signs of internal bleeding, so he was soon released. However at midnight that night, his symptoms worsened and he was rushed to the nearest hospital via ambulance.

Due to a snow storm, the ambulance took a harrowing two hours to reach the hospital, during which time Tom kept fainting. Tom’s parents were fortunately able to travel alongside him and his mother Alison Karbowiak, recalls the journey as every parent’s worst nightmare.

“The level of stress that comes along with seeing your child suffering, while in a strange country and hours from the nearest hospital, is absolute torture,” Alison recalls.

“We always travel with insurance, I just like that peace of mind. Prior to the trip I’d checked we were fully insured for everything. I didn’t expect we’d need it, but when this happened – it was such a relief not to have to worry about debilitating ambulance or hospital costs so I could just focus on my son. ”

Once Tom arrived at the hospital, further tests revealed his spleen was damaged beyond repair and the doctors had to perform emergency surgery to remove it. The operation was fortunately successful, and Tom then spent the next 11 days hospitalised while he recovered from the splenectomy and abdominal trauma.

Had it not been for the Karbowiak family’s travel insurance policy, they would have been liable for a whopping $62,121 in costs, including emergency medical costs, flights, accommodation, taxi expenses and fees for missed pre booked transfers.

Says Alison: “If we’d had to personally cover these costs, the long term implications on our future would be terrifying. It would have drained our savings, affected our ability to cover everyday bills and taken away our freedom to make education choices for our sons. I honestly don’t know how we would have survived. Fortunately everything was covered so we could just focus on getting Tom better.

“In speaking with friends following the accident, I was shocked at how many people asked us if we had insurance. For the sake of a few hundred dollars, I don’t understand how anyone could risk it.”

Cover-More Travel Insurance today announced their top 5 most expensive winter sports related claims for 2017 as follows:

Snow Boarding Canada Tibia & fibula fractures, wrist fracture, rib fracture $94,987
Snow Skiing United States Left radius fracture, closed fracture $76,605
Snow Skiing United States Injury to knee $76,167


Snow Skiing France Abdominal trauma, Splenectomy




Snow Boarding Japan Fractured tibial plateau



With close to 50,000 people taking out Cover-More Travel Insurance for winter related sports during their travels in 2017, it’s clear that many take the risks seriously – but these figures are a wake-up call for anyone considering not taking out travel insurance to save a few bucks.

Says Cover-More Travel Insurance Executive General Manager, Direct to Consumer, Global, Glenn Broadhurst: “With travel insurance policies as low as $70 for winter related sports, it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind when you’re looking at cases such as these.

“Imagine having to foot the bill for a $100,000 ski trip accident. It would be life-changing in the worst possible way.

“People work hard for their holidays, and an accident is the last thing you need while you’re trying to unwind and enjoy your well-earned time. We’re proud to be able to assist these individuals, and all our policy holders when things don’t quite go according to plan on their holidays.” 

Top five ways to avoid injury on the snow slopes: 

Most skiers and snowboarders would say the rewards of the slopes outweigh the risks, but there are things you can do to help prevent an injury during your winter holiday. Dr Stephen Rashford – Cover-More’s Chief Medical Consultant, shares his five top tips:

  1. Ensure your ski gear fits well

A common mistake is for skiers to wear poorly fitted boots. It’s important they are not too stiff or narrow, but rather shaped to turn easily using gentle ankle and knee motions. Ensure you are fitted in a reputable ski shop or rental shop to avoid dangerous footwear, and check the condition of your equipment frequently.

  1. Wear a helmet

A lightweight, well-fitted, highly visible helmet is recommended to help prevent head injuries in the event of a collision.

  1. Work on your fitness in the lead-up

At least 20 minutes of weight training per day combined with other cardio or sporting activities is recommended to build up optimum fitness for taking on the ski slopes.

  1. Know your limits

Only ski on terrain you can confidently manage. Also make sure you stay rested and take breaks as needed.

  1. Avoid alcohol and drugs

100% clarity is important when participating in winter sports, so save the drinks for the bars – and leave an ample amount of time between drinks and the slopes.

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