Top 6 Travel Insurance Providers for Action Sports

This article outlines a basic summary and comparison of 6 travel insurance providers who offer cover for the following action sports:

Skateboarding

Snowboarding

Surfing

Scuba Diving

Mountain Biking

 

The 6 travel insurance providers are:

  1. Dogtag (dogtag.com)
  2. World Nomads (worldnomads.com)
  3. Snowcard (snowcard.co.uk)
  4. Lloyds Bank Travel Insurance (lloydsbank.com/insurance/home/travel.asp)
  5. InsureandGO (insureandgo.com)
  6. SportsCover Direct (sportscoverdirect.com)

 

But why should you trust my opinion? 

Well, let me introduce myself, before I gave up the Mon-Fri 9-5 to become a travel blogger I used to work in travel insurance for over 7 years; the international medical emergency assistance coordination sector to be precise (further details on LinkedIn if you’re interested).  That should give you some reassurance that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to travel insurance.

In addition to my professional knowledge and experience in the travel insurance industry, I’ve also spent 8 full winter seasons working and snowboarding at various ski resorts around the world, from New Zealand to France, Canada and the USA, as well as various week-long snowboard/mountain biking holidays across Europe.  That should give you some reassurance that I’ve bought my fair share of insurance policies as a ‘punter’ too.

 

So why these 6 policies in particular?

The UK travel insurance market is vast even when you dial down to niche areas like action sports, so there are plenty of policies to choose from.  I have chosen my 6 based on:

  1. Feedback from friends who have used these policies in their worldwide adventures; including experienced snowboard, surf, scuba and mountain bike instructors at all levels
  2. My personal experience as a customer
  3. My personal experience as a travel insurance industry professional
  4. Extensive up to date research (September/October 2017)

 

Dogtag (dogtag.com)

  1. Top of the list purely because they were mentioned by the majority of my friends (and I had also heard of them before)
  2. Reviews on reviewcentre.com aren’t very good, but I’ve read a lot of these reviews and a large percentage of them complain about standard elements of insurance that everybody should be aware of (see ‘Travel Insurance – The least you should know’ for more info)
  3. Covers all 5 sports mentioned above
    • Covers a huge range of variation in each of the 5 sports
      • 16 variations of snowboarding
      • 4 variations of mountain biking
      • 3 variations of scuba
      • 2 variations of skateboarding
      • 1 variation of surfing
  4. PROS
    • Has a simple classification system for each variation of activity which ranges from the lowest level called ‘Sport’, through ‘Sport +’ and up to ‘Extreme’ and ‘Extreme +’. The cost of insurance rising along with the level of danger.
    • Offers cover for a wide range of nationalities in various currencies, not just those from the UK.
  5. CONS
    • In order to be insured with Dogtag UK, you have to have been resident in the UK for at least six out of the last twelve months.
    • Reviews on sites like reviewcentre.com allude to the reimbursement process being extremely slow.
    • No cover for those aged 69 or over

 

World Nomads (worldnomads.com)

  1. Second on the list because I’ve been a customer (but never made a claim) + mentioned by various friends
  2. Reviews on trustpilot.com are generally good (Nomadic Matt also offers a very detailed, if slightly biased review here
  3. Covers all 5 sports mentioned above:
    • 5 variations of snowboarding
    • 3 variations of mountain biking
    • 3 variations of scuba diving
    • 1 variation of skateboarding
    • 1 variation of surfing
  4. PROS
    • Can be purchased whilst you are abroad + extended too (whilst most other insurance policies need to be purchased BEFORE you start your trip).
    • Option when you pay for your insurance to make a ‘micro-donation’ to help fund community/conservation projects around the world.
    • Well known in the traveller/digital nomad community
  5. CONS
    • Slightly confusing classification of activities and sports (i.e. skateboarding comes under ‘Experience Activity’ as opposed to ‘Sport Activity’).
    • No cover for those over 70 years old

 

Snowcard (snowcard.co.uk)

  1. Third on the list because I’ve been a customer (but never made a claim) + mentioned by a couple of friends
  2. Oddly only one review on trustpilot.com (albeit a 5-star review) and very few other reviews online despite an extensive search.
  3. Worryingly the Financial Conduct Authority website currently displays this message for Snowcard
    • Status: No longer authorised
      (Reference number: 302185)
      This is a firm that can no longer provide regulated products and services, but was previously authorised by the PRA and/or FCA.
  4. ONLY covers 4 of the 5 sports mentioned above
    • NO mention of skateboarding on website or policy wording
    • 5 variations of mountain biking
    • 3 variations of snowboarding
    • 2 variations of scuba diving
    • 1 variation of surfing
  5. PROS
    • Has specific levels of cover for amateur competitive mountain biking which even distinguish between two named events in France (Pass’Portes du Soleil and Megavalanche)
    • Well known in the action sports community (for good and bad reasons)
  6. CONS
    • Confirmation required from FCA whether company is still authorised to sell regulated insurance products and services
    • Can only be used by UK & Channel Islands residents
    • No skateboard cover
    • No cover for those over 75 years old

 

Lloyds Bank Travel Insurance

  1. Fourth on the list because I’ve been a customer and I used them to help me get home when I broke my collarbone snowboarding in Bulgaria in 2017
  2. Multiple reviews on reviewcentre.com + trustpilot.com are very bad, mostly complaining about the lack of active help during issues abroad. I must admit that my personal experience was probably made far easier due to my detailed knowledge of what to expect and how to guide the situation.
  3. Covers all 5 sports mentioned above BUT with very limited variation:
    • 2 variations of snowboarding (on and off piste)
    • 1 variation of mountain biking (no racing)
    • 1 variation of scuba diving (including a caveat that you are not involved in air travel until more than 24 hours have elapsed after your last dive)
    • 1 variation of skateboarding (stressing the use of helmet and pads)
    • 1 variation of surfing
  4. PROS
    • Comes free with higher level bank accounts
    • No need for separate insurance policy number or paperwork (linked to bank account number)
    • Automatically active when you travel, does not need to be activated before you go
  5. CONS
    • Requires a Lloyds Bank account in order to access cover, cannot be purchased separately
    • Only covers up to 31 days travel a year
    • Can only cover Winter Sports OR Children, not both at the same time
    • No cover for those aged 76 or over

           

InsureandGO (insureandgo.com)

  1. Fifth on the list because I’ve been a customer (but never made a claim) + professional experience
  2. Oddly, the majority of reviews on reviewcentre.com are very bad (382 One star reviews), yet the majority on trustpilot.com are very good (12,128 Five star reviews = 75% of reviews)
  3. Covers all 5 sports mentioned above BUT with very limited variation:
    • 2 variations of snowboarding (snowboarding and snowboarding in fun parks)
    • 1 variation of mountain biking
    • 1 variation of scuba diving
    • 1 variation of skateboarding
    • 1 variation of surfing
  4. PROS
    • Large range of options and prices, short term and long-term cover
    • Huge number of positive online reviews
  5. CONS
    • Cannot be purchased if you have already left the UK
    • Very laborious to find which sports are covered on the website, information spread across multiple pages and policy booklets
    • Those aged 66-86 have a maximum trip duration of 31 days

 

SportsCover Direct (sportscoverdirect.com)

  1. Made it onto the list based on professional travel insurance industry experience
  2. Reviews on trustpilot.com and reviewcentre.com are generally positive
  3. Covers all 5 sports mentioned above:
    • 10 variations of snowboarding (with specific levels of competition cover)
    • 4 variations of mountain biking
    • 1 variation of scuba diving
    • 1 variation of skateboarding
    • 1 variation of surfing
  4. PROS
    • Huge range of different options for individual, team and amateur competition cover
    • Top up option to add new activities/sports to your policy whilst you are travelling
  5. CONS
    • Only covers persons who have been a resident of the United Kingdom for at least the last 6 months
    • No cover for those aged 75 or over
    • Would not provide me with a quote when accessing the site from Mexico

 

In the weeks that follow I will also be writing an additional article comparing and contrasting these 6 providers specifically in terms of snowboarding in the run up to winter 2017/2018.

 

What have your experiences been with these companies?

Do you have other recommendations for action sports travel insurance policies?

Please comment below to give your answers or send a message via Facebook/Instagram/Twitter

 

Please also feel free to ask me any questions about the general travel insurance process and what your expectations should be.  Even if I can simply offer you peace of mind that you are being treated appropriately.