Planning a Sporting Vacation? Consider an Add-On to Your Travel Policy

Some folks like to lie on the beach during their vacations, while others like to mix it up a bit with some adventure sports. If you're in the latter category, your head may be filled with visions of grand outdoor experiences. But have you thought about your travel insurance? If your answer is yes, you may want to check your policy. It's common for insurers to exclude coverage when an injury occurs during certain sport activities. Which activities? Well, that depends entirely on the insurer and what they define as an extreme sport.

Why Do Insurers Not Cover Some Sports?

As a rule, insurers don't like risk. Some sports come with a higher risk of injury. The reason for not covering these sport injuries is quite simple: insurers are trying to protect their interests. That doesn't mean they won't act in good faith, however. Any exclusions should be clearly outlined in your policy, which is why it's essential for you to read the fine print.

Are All Sports Created Equal?

What one insurer may exclude, another may not. That's why experts recommend signing up for a policy that avoids general language like "hazardous sports," without providing a specific explanation of what that means. If you are unsure, call the company before you leave so you understand what's covered and to avoid a dispute later on. Your insurer may provide coverage if you are doing normal recreational activities, like golfing, swimming in designated areas, or downhill skiing at a resort. But an insurer may balk at contact sports like hockey or football, or adventure sports like ice climbing, paragliding, or snowboarding. Very risky sports, like base jumping, might be specifically excluded. But even here there's room for technicalities. According to CAA-Quebec, some coverage may be available for rock climbing injuries if you are only participating in Class 1-3 climbs. Mountain biking may be OK, as long as you're staying on designated trails. Scuba diving might be fine, as long as you're taking a course from a recognized professional.

What If You Are a Professional Athlete?

Insurance becomes even trickier for those who engage in these sports for a living. If you are a professional athlete, your professional association will likely cover you in the event of injury at a sanctioned event. But if you engage in your sport while on vacation, or at a non-sanctioned event, you may have to pay out-of-pocket for related medical costs, or have your own coverage.

Insurance Policy Add-Ons for Sport

There is good news if you want to partake in some out-of-the-box outdoor activities while on vacation. Some companies offer sport travel insurance, with specific add-on packages for different categories of sport. These may cover contact, adventure, or extreme activities. Here again, it's essential to read the fine print. One insurer may consider mountain climbing below 6,000 meters as "adventure" sport, and above 6,000 meters as "extreme." So like with any policy, you should understand what you're buying, so you can have peace of mind when you're enjoying the outdoors.

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