Travel Insurance for extreme sports abroad

By Emma Drew

August 11, 2016

Travel Insurance for extreme sports abroad

A Judo star was left with severe head injuries after a motor bike accident whilst teaching in Vietnam but at the time of her crash, her insurance company refused to pay for her medical treatment. 

The crash happened when the woman’s dress became caught in the wheel of the bike, causing her to fall off and hit her head on the road where she ended up in a coma in intensive care and fighting for her life.

The young woman, who was a frequent traveller and had participated in many worldwide sporting events understood the importance of travel insurance. Prior to her trip she took out a twelve month policy with a reputable high street store, but at the time of her crash, she was left in an ambulance outside of the hospital for over three hours before receiving emergency medical treatment when doctors realised her travel insurance was invalid. In the clause of the travel policy’s terms and conditions, it wasn’t clearly stipulated that the cover was only valid for 31 days per trip, but the accident happened four months into this particular trip, by which time the policy had expired and the young woman was deemed uninsured.

A case like this highlights the seriousness and importance of having the right type of travel insurance cover in place, especially if you are planning to use vehicles such as motor bikes whilst abroad as the medical costs resulting from an accident may not be covered within the remit of a standard travel insurance policy. This also applies if you are planning on taking part in any extreme sporting activities whilst on holiday. Extreme sports include jet-skiing, scuba diving, rock climbing, abseiling, white-water rafting, shark cage diving and bungee jumping.

Research by The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) found that those aged between 18-34 were least likely to take out travel insurance, saying it was far too expensive to pay the extra premiums on top of the costs of their holiday, especially as the more dangerous the activity is, the higher the premium increased for travel insurance. However, the cost of the extra insurance premium would be minor in comparison to the tens of thousands of pounds you could potentially have to pay for medical expenses and repatriation costs back to the UK.

The insurance cover available will vary depending on which travel providers you choose. Most travel policies will include standard cover for some sporting activities but will also give you the option to upgrade and extend your cover for any high risk sports. It is important to have an idea of the kind of activities you would be doing before you book your holiday to ensure you will be fully protected.

If you do take out a standard travel policy but once you are away decide to take part in an extreme sport you should ring your insurance provider to see if you can extend your policy cover. However, not all providers will be able to amend your policy once you have left for your holiday and therefore it is down to you to assess whether the risk is worth taking.

Furthermore, if you do decide to take the risk, you should read any documentation carefully before signing anything that states you agree to undertake any dangerous sporting activity as you could in fact be signing a disclaimer which could exempt the company from any responsibility of protecting you with their insurance cover in the event of an accident.

You should check the details of your policy for whether you need to be accompanied by a qualified instructor whilst taking part in extreme sports, especially if you have little previous experience in the sport you are participating in.

Safety should be your number one priority before booking your holiday and ensuring you have the correct insurance cover in place rather than relying on the false assumption that such an accident would never happen to you.

The young woman has fortunately since made a remarkable recovery, after a donations page was set up to help her with the costs of her medical treatment and repatriation back to the UK and is progressing back to fitness through her passion for Judo sport.


How can we help?

Howden’s travel policy provides instant cover for personal accident and medical costs. For more information please speak to your usual insurance representative or call us on 0121 698 8000.


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