(Spoiler Alert: It’s all good! He’s mended and has a season pass in hand for this winter.)
This young man spent two weeks in a hospital 2,000 miles from his family, before they arrived to take him home where he recuperated for the rest of the semester.
As a mom, this story really bothered me, mostly because this student was a long way from home and it took a few days in hospital before even his friends could visit him. I figured it had to be a pretty scary experience for him and his parents.
Soon after this happened, I read something about Safe Descents Ski and Snowboard Evacuation Insurance. I wanted to discover how this insurance might help other families and individuals.
I wanted to know what the insurance covers, how it covers it and where it’s available. I wanted to know if insurance I already have provides the same coverage.
What is Safe Descents Ski and Snowboard Evacuation Insurance?
To answer my many questions, I talked to Safe Descents to better understand the product. And while this is not a full representation, here’s a summary.
Safe Descents Ski and Snowboard Evacuation Insurance offers up to $25,000 in coverage for transportation costs associated with accidental injuries while riding a lift, skiing or snowboarding, and participating in a ski or snowboard school while at a resort.
- Field Rescue: Transportation off of the mountain to the nearest medical facility or hospital. Typically this is done by ski patrol, but if another entity is involved the insurance would cover the cost.
- Emergency Medical Evacuation: Transportation from the base of the resort to the nearest medical facility or hospital capable of providing appropriate treatment.
- Medical Repatriation: Transportation to a hospital or medical facility near the injured skier or snowboarder’s home.
- Companion Travel: The cost of a medical escort to accompany the injured skier or snowboarder, or their children, back to their home.
The cost is $4.75 per day or $56.99 for the entire ski/snowboard season (from November 1, 2018 – April 30, 2019).
Safe Descents does not charge a deductible. Safe Descents evacuation insurance does not cover medical or other non-transportation expenses. It is not travel insurance. It does not cover accidents outside of resorts, say in the backcountry or while heli-skiing. It does not cover skiing or snowboarding at resorts in Canada or other destinations outside of the U.S.
Coverage varies depending upon which plan is purchased. Additionally, you must buy the plan in the state where you live, not in the state where you are skiing. However the policy will cover you throughout the U.S.
This makes Safe Descents evacuation insurance different from European evacuation insurance, which can be purchased at resort ticket windows as a lift ticket add-on.
Do You Need It?
This is one of those questions that only you can answer. It depends upon your perception of risk and what your health insurance may or may not cover.
While some health insurance policies might cover medical transportation, it depends upon the specific policy and the deductible. Other insurance, like homeowners, would not cover these evacuation costs. If you do have insurance that covers some of these costs, Safe Descents will cover whatever your other insurance does not cover up to $25,000.
As for my son’s friend, I have no idea what sort of insurance his family had in place. However, if they didn’t have coverage, I do think that having evacuation insurance might have helped them avoid significant expense and the anxiety of being separated during a difficult time.
Stay Safe While Skiing and Snowboarding
With all this talk about accidents, let’s remember that skiing and snowboarding remain relatively safe pursuits.
Here are some measures skiers and snowboarders can take to significantly reduce their risk.
- Always wear a helmet.
- Know, understand and follow the skier and snowboarder responsibility code.
- Unplug to minimize distractions like music, texting or talking on the phone.
- Be respectful of everyone with whom you’re sharing the slopes.
- Ski and ride defensively. Be aware of your surroundings and be ready to avoid obstacles, hazards and collisions.
Teach your children about skiing safety, model good behavior and, if it makes sense for your family, consider purchasing skiing and snowboarding evacuation insurance.
To facilitate this post, I interviewed a representative of Safe Descents and discussed the product with my husband who is in the insurance industry. My husband provided his independent opinion. He does not work for, or benefit from, Safe Descents. As always, all opinions are my own and are exactly what I would tell my family and friends.
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