Austrian Alps For Members

Should I take out insurance before skiing in Austria?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Should I take out insurance before skiing in Austria?
Two people in a gondola at a ski resort (Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI / AFP)

As the winter sports season heats up in the Austrian Alps, the focus is on snow conditions rather than insurance matters. However, it's essential to consider certain aspects related to insurance coverage during this time.


The phrase "hitting the slopes" often evokes thoughts of skiing effortlessly down snow-covered inclines, but in a literal sense, it implies falling and incurring injuries on the ski slope. 

Once an accident occurs, dealing with the aftermath becomes an uphill battle.

Regardless of whether you're planning a short-day trip or an extended vacation in the mountains, it's prudent to think about the insurance coverage you might require in the event of mishaps. Even the most proficient skiers, snowboarders, or snowshoers aren't exempt from occasional accidents.

In Austria, health insurance is compulsory, and most people are already insured through their employers or families. Because of that, many people believe they wouldn't need to take out insurance before a ski trip.

However, a significant exception exists to what public insurance, such as the Österreichische Gesundheitskasse (ÖGK), will cover.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Am I liable for ambulance costs in Austria?

No air rescue

The ÖGK acknowledges its commitment to covering the expenses of air transport within the country by aircraft in cases of life-threatening emergencies where urgent air transport is necessary. However, the condition for this coverage is medical validation of the necessity by a doctor and approval by the insurance company.

The insurance mentions a crucial exclusion: incidents categorised as "accidents in the practice of sport and tourism on the mountain" are not covered—an occurrence that's not uncommon in a country with Alpine terrain.

In practical terms, if an accident in Vienna's streets requires air transportation to a hospital, ÖGK is likely to bear the associated costs. However, if an identical accident occurs while cycling in a mountainous region, the bill for air transport may be directed to the injured person's home address, as it falls under the exemption outlined by the insurance policy.

READ ALSO: Everything foreigners need to know about the Austrian healthcare system

It's also important to note that "air rescue" is not only being airlifted somewhere, but it could be necessary if you get lost or thought missing, for example. And costs for helicopter use can quickly add up to thousands of euros.

On its website, ÖGK reiterates that it “recommends taking appropriate precautions. Otherwise, an emergency can quickly become a big financial problem”.

The “appropriate precautions”, according to expert lawyers, would include buying private insurance  – or checking the terms of any insurance policies you already have.


What should I do?

If you plan on going to the mountains - even if not for skiing or snowboarding - it's worth it to take out specific insurance. 

There are countless options, from private insurers to specific associations (such as the Austrian Alpine Association, the Austrian Ski Association or the ÖAMTC), with yearly membership fees that include insurance.

Another option is checking with the local mountain rescuer service, a community of voluntary workers that have partnerships with private insurers - you can donate and get yourself (and your family) insured at the same time.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also