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The surprise destination where travel insurance claims have surged by 40% 

Hold onto your ski hats… As snow sports holidays to Japan continue to rise, 1Cover Travel Insurance has seen a whopping 40 per cent rise in ski-season claims for the country. 

Hold onto your ski hats… As snow sports holidays to Japan continue to rise, 1Cover Travel Insurance has seen a whopping 40 per cent rise in ski-season claims for the country. 

While this growth could be partly attributed to the yearly increase in Aussies travelling to Japan (the Asian nation welcomed almost as many Aussies in 2023 as it did in 2019) the number of claims is still alarming – and could rise further still.

“With Covid vaccination requirements waived as recently as May of last year, the numbers for this year’s snow season appear poised to surpass pre-pandemic levels, which were already robust,” 1Cover Travel Insurance spokesperson Natalie Smith says.

Mountain ski resort Shiga Kogen, Nagano
Shiga Kogen, Nagano

According to Smith, the relative affordability and stellar ski conditions in Japan have helped lure Aussie snowhounds to Japan. 

But the icy twist is the surge in ski-related injuries, which Smith says should serve as a reminder to travellers about the importance of having adequate travel insurance coverage.

“During peak snow season in Japan, accidents leading to leg fractures and knee injuries are unfortunately common,” she states. 

“Such injuries can swiftly derail your holiday budget. A mountain rescue alone can easily incur costs upwards of $5,000. Factor in potential repatriation expenses, often necessitating business-class fares ranging from $10,000 to $15,000, plus additional accommodation, and the financial burden becomes significant. And that’s before considering any unused pre-paid holiday expenses or additional medical bills. 

“Be sure to check what your policy includes as you won’t typically be covered automatically for skiing.”

Travel insurance
Travel insurance is vital for snow sports

Smith also warns thrill-seekers to pay particular attention to the risks linked with backcountry skiing and boarding. 

“Backcountry skiing is particularly popular in Japan’s ski fields. However, the allure of untracked and remote terrain poses unique dangers,” she says.

“Generally speaking, you are covered for skiing in backcountry areas, if you are within the boundaries of your ski resort. 

“However, heli-skiing and off-piste skiing outside of resort boundaries are excluded from our policies and not covered by most Australian travel insurance policies.” 

shutterstock 769310470
Snow sports are fun. Make them safe too.

To minimise risk, Smith warns Aussies to just tread carefully when hitting the slopes for skiing or snowboarding adventures.

“The numbers say it all. Even the most seasoned of skiers are prone to slips on the slopes,” she adds. 

“Snow lovers should always approach every run with caution and prioritise safety. Be aware of avalanche risks and always wear adequate safety gear, including a helmet. Not doing so could be potentially life-threatening.”

On the mountain, Smith advises travellers to not push beyond their limits, avoid skiing alone, ensure they have the appropriate safety equipment (like helmets), stay informed of weather forecasts and have an emergency plan – including knowing the contact information for local authorities.