Do You Need Insurance For Your Japan Ski Trip

Do You Need Insurance For Your Japan Ski Trip

Yes! You Need Insurance!

Several years ago I had my first serious injury while skiing.  I have skied for 30 years, taught skiing for 2 decades and I also snowboard.  I was skiing in Japan, on an early season powder day. Bad visibility, and not overly good conditions, but there was no way I wasn’t going to go hard.  I’d been waiting months to put the skis back on. After skiing for a couple of hours, I ran into some friends and despite contemplating calling it a day, I decided to do one more run.  The fateful one more run.

Without sharing gruesome details, I managed to break my ankle in a pair of ski boots.  It was excruciatingly painful. Despite the pain, I got myself off the mountain; without patrols help. Stubborn as I was, there was no way I was going to use the safety sled.  30 years of skiing, there was no way I was going to get in the bucket.

At the bottom of the hill I walked to the truck, and somehow managed to pry my boot off my broken foot and then drove home.  Manual transmission, using the clutch with a broken ankle. Not the smartest thing to do.

After praying for 24 hours at home that my ankle was “just sprained” (who wants to be out for the season only 3 weeks in)  I finally bit the bullet and went to the Doctor. That was it, my ankle was thrown in a cast and I was down for the count. A minimum of 8 weeks for recovery.

Injuries Without Insurance Are Expensive

Now I would love to regale you with my amazing recovery and how fast I was back on the hill, but that’s not really the point of the story.  The point is skiing & snowboarding are high-risk sports, and even the most experienced enthusiast can get hurt. You’re not invincible and it could easily be you.

When I was at the clinic having my ankle taken care of, there was an injured boarder who was having some trouble communicating with the nurses.  I know some Japanese, so I stepped in to help as best I could. After breaking his collarbone and getting a sling he owed the clinic 40,000yen (~$400).  A pretty expensive injury. He didn’t have enough cash on him and he was going to get his parents to transfer him the money so he could pay.

Injuries are not cheap when you don’t have ski travel insurance.  I was lucky, I live in Japan and have Japanese medical insurance.  My visit was much cheaper (3,000 yen or ~$30). An unexpected injury during your stay without proper insurance coverage can really add up.


Do You Need Insurance For Your Japanese Ski Trip

My automatic answer is yes. The proper insurance can be worth its weight in gold, so that you don’t end up in the same situation as the boarder above.  It’s important to note that I said proper insurance. Many credit cards offer travel insurance, but some activities such as extreme sports and other adventurous holiday pastimes may not be covered by your credit card policy.  Make sure you know what you are covered for before you go.


Special Note on Backcountry

Backcountry is becoming more and more popular every year.  Many insurance policies even those including skiing and snowboarding do not cover backcountry.  Usually, you need to purchase additional insurance to cover this activity and more often than not, you must have a professional guide in order to qualify.  The devil is in the details so make sure you know what is and is not covered.

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