A recent survey carried out by the Ski Club of Great Britain reports that 56 percent of skiers and snowboarders hit the slopes without ski insurance.

The price of taking out ski insurance and the thought of trawling through lengthy terms and conditions is enough to put many people off - so just how necessary is it?

Like any sport, ski accidents do happen. Statistically speaking, skiing is generally considered safer than swimming, horse riding, climbing, or playing football. That being said, if you're a beginner on the slopes, the chance of being involved in an accident is doubled.

The Association of Mountain Doctors in France dealt with 140,000 injuries last year, the most common being a sprained knee. Paul Thilo, vice president of consumer marketing at Direct Travel Insurance, said: "The French Mountain Doctors' report is a reminder that good travel cover is paramount when you're skiing or snowboarding. It goes without saying that the price of travel insurance is negligible when you consider the cost of medical bills and mountain rescue."

"It goes without saying that the price of travel insurance is negligible when you consider the cost of medical bills and mountain rescue"

Accidents not only put a major dampener on your holiday, but can incur huge medical costs to cover things like mountain rescue and transport back to the UK. World First Travel Insurance reports the average claim for medical expenses for injuries while skiing is £684.

Taking out ski insurance is the safest and smartest thing to do, especially as it is relatively inexpensive - as low as £13 per person for decent cover. The key to finding the right ski insurance cover at the right price is to invest a bit of time.

Martin Rothwell, managing partner for World First Travel Insurance, says, "Make sure you research the best policies. Whether you're hitting the slopes for the first time or you're a regular on the black run, you still need to make sure you've found the policy that's right for you and your holiday. It's far better to invest a bit of time before you travel to be sure you've got it right.  You never know how good your insurance cover is until you really need it and then, if it's the wrong policy, it's too late." 

Taking out ski insurance is the safest and smartest thing to do, especially as it is relatively inexpensive - as low as £13 per person for decent cover

Before deciding on a policy, check you're not already covered for winter sports with your bank or credit card. You should also have a clear idea of how much your equipment is worth (make sure you get adequate cover) and if you intend to participate in extra winter sports - heliskiing, toboganning, ski touring or ski racing - your cover should specifically mention it.

Direct Travel Insurance warns skiers to read all the terms and conditions and make sure it covers you for the following:

  • Medical and air ambulance costs including Search and Mountain Rescue
  • Personal liability up to £2 million if you are the cause of someone else being injured
  • UK physiotherapy to aid recovery from a winter sports injury on your return
  • Piste closure cover - due to high winds, too much or lack of snow (make sure you don't have to prove that 100 percent of all local resorts are closed - 80 percent is more reasonable).

The cheapest ski insurance from Direct Travel Insurance, covering you for all of the above, is £13 per person for a seven-day trip.

There are also safety precautions you can carryout to minimise your risk of an accident: Check the weather forecast if you're planning to go off-piste and make sure you tell someone where you're going; ensure you and your children always wear helmets; take regular rest breaks as most accidents happen when skiers are tired; and limit drinking on the mountain as alcohol can severely damage your coordination and reaction times.