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Sports travel insurance

Whether you’re into skiing, cycling, golf, snowboarding or tennis, there’s nothing like pairing your favourite sports activities with a holiday. Get the right sports travel insurance to cover your chosen activities and you can enjoy your holiday with peace of mind.

What is sports travel insurance?

Travel insurance can cover low-risk activities, such as fishing, as standard. But it doesn’t typically cover more adventurous sports – like skiing or scuba diving – or the cost of lost, stolen or damaged sports equipment. To get the right protection, you’ll need to:

  • Add cover for your sport to your travel insurance policy.
  • Get a specialist sports travel insurance policy if your chosen activity isn’t covered by one of the sports cover add-ons available, or if you’re competing professionally.

What activities does sports travel insurance cover?

Here are some examples of activities that could be covered by sports travel insurance:

  • Cycling
  • Horse riding
  • Snorkelling and scuba-diving
  • Sailing
  • Recreational sports, such as golf, football and badminton.

Many providers divide sporting activities into risk groups and may cover more adventurous sports at a higher cost. If your chosen activity isn’t covered by your insurance provider, you may need to find a specialist sports insurance provider who can give you the extreme sports cover you need.

Be aware that every travel insurance provider has their own classification of what they consider low and high-risk sports and adventure activities. It’s essential when comparing policies, that you read each one carefully to ensure your chosen sport is covered.

What’s covered by sports travel insurance?

A typical sports travel insurance policy should cover:

  • Medical expenses
  • Emergency transportation, such as ambulance fees and repatriation if medically necessary
  • Holiday cancellation and curtailment
  • Lost, stolen or damaged baggage
  • Personal liability – damage costs if you accidentally injure another person or damage their property
  • Personal injury – a lump sum in the event of permanent disability or death.

When you consider that medical treatment and repatriation costs from the USA and Asia could be as much as £100,000, the cover that travel insurance provides is more than worth it.

Can I get sports equipment insurance?

Your sports travel insurance may include cover for the sporting equipment you want to take on holiday with you, but you’ll need to check your policy details to be sure. You may need to add on extra sports equipment insurance cover.

Some travel insurance policies with sports equipment cover will include the cost of hiring replacement equipment on your trip, if yours is lost or stolen. It may also include cover for any sports equipment that you hire during the trip in case, for example, your rented bike is stolen and the hire company holds you responsible.

If you’re taking gear like bicycles, tennis rackets, skis, a kayak, or a surfboard with you, check that your equipment is covered by the single item limit. That’s the maximum your travel insurance will pay out for one item that’s lost, damaged or stolen.

If you buy specialist golf travel insurance, it will normally include cover for your golfing equipment, but you’ll need to check you’re covered for the full value of your clubs.

What’s not covered by sports travel insurance?

Each travel insurance policy can be different, with each insurance provider categorising sports with different levels of risk. This means you should compare quotes to find the best fit for your holiday and get the cover you need.

You may need a specialist policy if you want to take part in:

  • Water sports – e.g. jet-skiing, parasailing and white-water rafting
  • Winter sports – e.g. skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling
  • Extreme sports -  e.g. rock climbing, bungee jumping and sky diving

There are also a few common exclusions to be aware of with any travel insurance policy:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions — your policy could be invalidated if you fail to tell your provider about any medical conditions that you then need treatment for while you’re away.
  • Claims resulting from drugs and alcohol — if you get injured while you’re under the influence, you may not be covered for treatment.
  • Claims resulting from you breaking the law.
  • Terrorism, natural disasters, and civil unrest — your travel insurance may only provide limited cover for travel disruption caused by terrorist acts or volcanic ash.

Frequently asked questions

For insurance purposes, what sports are considered extreme?

You may need specialist extreme sports travel insurance for the following activities:

  • Rock climbing
  • Bungee jumping
  • Mountaineering
  • White water rafting
  • Caving
  • Skiing and snowboarding
  • Hang gliding
  • Scuba diving.

Some extreme activities are considered too risky for insurance providers. You may struggle to get cover for sports such as:

  • Cliff diving
  • Free running
  • Scuba diving below 150 feet
  • Free climbing
  • Ice climbing
  • Rock climbing above 14,000 feet.

Some activities that you might assume are covered by a standard insurance policy, may be considered extreme by insurance providers, including:

  • Horse riding
  • Golf
  • Swimming with dolphins
  • Inflatable banana rides.

Read the full details of each policy to make sure your activity is covered.

Do I need additional cover for winter sports?

If you’re heading on a skiing or snowboarding holiday, you’ll need travel insurance with winter sports cover.

It may end up costing more, but specialist winter sports travel insurance offers more comprehensive protection for you, your equipment and your ski pass, so it’s worth comparing different providers.

Can I get sports travel insurance with a pre-existing condition?

Yes, you should be able to get sports travel insurance with a pre-existing medical condition. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll be covered for that condition. Pre-existing medical conditions must be disclosed when taking out the policy, and these are usually among the listed exclusions.

While a medical condition could mean that your premium may cost you a little more, not declaring it could invalidate your entire policy.

If you’d like to cover against pre-existing medical conditions, you’ll need a specialist policy, which could be much more expensive.

Can I get professional sports travel insurance?

If you’re going abroad to compete in a professional sporting event, you may need to get a specialist policy. It can depend on what event you’re competing in though, and in what capacity.

For example, if you’re combining a holiday with a marathon, you could find sports travel insurance will include cover for lost entry fees if the race doesn’t go ahead. But if you’re competing as a professional athlete for prize money, it’s likely you’ll need to find specialist travel insurance.

How do I choose the right sports travel insurance policy for me?

To find the right sport cover for your holiday, you’ll first need to consider what sports and activities you may want to do.

Once you have an idea of what you’ll be doing during your trip:

  • Start comparing travel insurance quotes.
  • When comparing, check each policy carefully to make sure the sports and activities you want to do are covered.
  • If you can’t find your chosen sport or activity on the list, call the insurance provider directly to find out if you can add it as an extra – some providers will charge you more for this, while others may add it to your standard policy at no extra cost.
  • Depending on the sports you want to do, you may need to take out a separate extreme or adventure sports policy.

What else should I be aware of when comparing sports travel insurance?

Here are some things to consider when comparing sports cover:

  • If you’re heading off a one-off sports holiday, you can get tailored cover with single trip travel insurance. On the other hand, if you’re planning two or more activity-filled adventures a year, you could save money with an annual multi trip policy.
  • If you’re planning a trip that lasts longer than 60 consecutive days, you may need, backpacker insurance with additional cover for your chosen sports and activities.
  • Be aware that some sports insurance providers will ask for specifics, such as anticipated altitude on a climbing holiday or immersion depths on a scuba diving holiday.  Be sure to have all necessary information ready when choosing a policy.
Author image Helen Phipps

What our expert says...

“Make sure you take your travel insurance policy with you on your holiday. That way, if you decide to try out a new sport, there and then, you can check to see if it’s on the list of covered sports. If it’s not, call your provider to see if it can be added.”

- Helen Phipps, Insurance comparison expert

What do I need to get a quote?

To find you a suitable quote, we’ll need some details including:

  • Your travel dates
  • Where you’re travelling to
  • Whether you want to add cover for winter sports
  • Any pre-existing medical conditions.

Once we have the information we need, we’ll send you a list of suitable quotes to compare.

Page last reviewed on 25 APRIL 2023
by Helen Phipps