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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Accident of Schumacher... Skiing - hazard and exclusions of Insurers

People have to take decisions….they cannot keep telling it is somebody else’s call !! ~ for many computer eye strain and coffee spillage are the biggest risks …….. there are some others for whom the spectre of falling from a great height, being crushed under heavy equipment or bombed are all in a day's work.  In cinema, we often see the hero deeply perspiring, perplexed with the Q of ‘which wire to cut ?’ to defuse a bomb… he disconnects the red wire and heaves a sigh of relief.  

Personal Accident Policies of Insurers offer compensation in case of death or bodily injury to the insured person, directly and solely as a result of an accident, by external, visible and violent means. There are death only cover; coverage for permanent disablements and temporary total disablements. The proposal would elicit information on whether the proposer is engaged in Racing on wheels or horseback; big game hunting; mountaineering; winter sports, skating or ice hockey; ballooning or polo or sports of similar nature… these are considered higher category of risks.. !

Skiing is a recreational activity and competitive sport in which the participant attaches skis to boots or shoes on the feet and uses them to travel on top of snow. Aside from recreation and competition, skiing has been used for military purposes and travelling in areas that experience heavy snowfall.

Michael Schumacher, the ace racing driver, a  seven-time Formula One World Champion, widely regarded as one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time is still in trouble.  The heroic race ace suffered ‘catastrophic’ injuries in the accident and is last still fighting for his life in intensive care despite a scan showing a slight improvement in his condition.  Michael Schumacher’s skiing accident in Dec 29, 2013,  was a result of “extreme bad luck” and not because he was going too fast, his manager has claimed. Doctors put the 45-year-old into an induced coma after the accident  to reduce brain swelling and give him a better chance of recovery. Some reports suggest that the  attempt to bring him round was called off last week, leading brain injury experts to fear that Schumacher's chances of making a full recovery had decreased. Some hazard that the skiing accident may have been made worse by the camera attached to his helmet at the time of impact. Sad for his fans and family that he still remains in the same condition with everyone hoping of improvement.  

Away from the ace driver and the unfortunate accident, here is  something on European travel  insurers cracking down on skiers who have a tipple and then hit the slopes ~ reproduced from Daily Mail article of Jan 2014

Insurers are cracking down on reckless behaviour from skiers who ignore warnings on the slopes or fail to wear a helmet. The terrible head injuries suffered by Formula One ace Michael Schumacher - who was wearing a helmet - have highlighted the dangers of skiing. Every year around 10,000 Britons hurt themselves so badly while on winter sports holidays that they need hospital treatment. Serious head injuries and deaths are mercifully rare, but broken bones and knee ligament tears are much more common.

Insurers are clamping down on skiers' claims where the policyholder has been drinking alcohol ~ and the number of accidents is climbing as many resorts become more crowded and increasingly sophisticated equipment means even relative beginners can hit speeds of up to 30mph. Thousands of these winter sports fans face huge bills if they fail to take proper insurance, or get caught out by small print.  While basic medical costs in most European Union countries are covered by the European Health Insurance Card, this does not include other popular destinations such as the U.S. Being airlifted, or treated in a private resort hospital anywhere in the world, will also probably have to be covered by insurance. Yet one in three skiers takes no cover. And if you are forced to pay a medical claim from your own pocket, it can be astronomical.

Even relatively minor injuries such as a broken ankle can leave you with a £22,000 bill. A knee injury can cost £16,000 to treat once rescue from the slopes is factored in, according to insurer Aviva. Head injuries make up around a fifth of all accidents - with the cost of a serious blow as high as £100,000. The bill for being airlifted, or stretchered off a mountain by rescuers, can be as much as £9,000 in the Swiss alps. Because of the exorbitant costs, insurers are getting tough. Bob Atkinson, of website says: ‘Increasingly insurance companies are expecting people to follow the rules and regulations. If you fail to read or ignore clearly laid out conditions in your ski insurance policy, do not expect them to protect you.’

According to the post - hundreds of deaths on the slopes each year are linked to alcohol - yet glance at any social media website and you’ll see dozens of videos of skiers young and old joking about skiing while intoxicated. Research by insurer MoreThan has found how one in three skiers have more than seven units of alcohol in their blood - the equivalent of two large glasses of wine. The drink drive limit for a man is four units. Many insurers now have exclusions in place that mean they will at least question a claim if you have alcohol in your blood and will refuse to pay out if they think you were under the influence. And if a doctor deems alcohol played a part in your accident, it is highly likely you won’t be covered.  Other firms are toughening up on skiers who hit the slopes without the right equipment.A study last year by John Hopkins University in the U.S. shows how helmets cut the risk of serious injury in accidents. Research from insurer Direct Line found how the head experiences a force of two tonnes in a crash without a helmet.

Essential Travel is the only UK insurer which expects customers to wear a helmet. Other firms’ policies are less clear-cut. Some refuse to pay out if you fail to stick to local rules, such as in some parts of Canada which demand you wear a helmet. In Italy, anyone under 14 must wear a helmet. Other companies are now threatening to throw out claims when the policy-holder did not have the correct equipment or clothing - so a claim for hospital costs if you suffered hypothermia would not be covered if you went onto the slopes without a ski jacket.Experts also warn holidaymakers to beware of exclusions when skiing off piste - this is excluded by most policies unless you hire a guide. You may think off piste means skiing in wild untouched areas. However it can simply mean not being on the official slopes - so if you are cutting across from one run to another, and get injured, you may not be covered.

If you ignore weather warnings issued by a resort before going off piste you may have a claim thrown out. Be wary though because guidance can be confusing - as often resorts warn that the weather or snow conditions can be bad, but rarely actually tell you not to ski. Chris Radford, director of off-piste skiing website Henry’s Avalanche Talk, which studied ski insurance policies, says: ‘Insurance policies require you to follow resort advice, but resort advice will rarely tell you not to go out.  ‘Instead it is down to you to make the judgement call depending on how well prepared, knowledgeable and how good a skier you are. ‘But if your claim is thrown out on the back of that decision, the consequences can be devastating.’

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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