Insurance company makes wearing a helmet compulsory

By adamrowden, 13 Nov '12 at 09:55

The old debate of ski and snowboard helmets has been brought back into the forefront by a leading travel insurance company. Essential Travel have announced that they will no longer cover clients who refuse to wear a helmet when on the pistes.

The company have made the decision as a part of their ‘Use Your Head’ campaign, and they stated the following on their blog:

‘Essential Travel is choosing to support helmet wearers on the slopes and after seeing the facts we've decided to make helmets compulsory on our Winter Sports Insurance Policy. Our Use Your Head campaign aims to illustrate how important wearing a helmet is while skiing or snowboarding.’

This new ruling means that if you take out insurance with Essential Travel and then go riding or skiing without a helmet, you will be in contravention of their policy. If you then go on to have an accident and they can prove that you were not wearing a helmet, you will no longer be covered.

The company is taking a strong stand on an issue that is sure to spark debate. Stuart Bensusan, the company spokesperson, told the Daily Mail: “Whilst it is true that a helmet does not reduce all sports injury, it seriously reduces the risk of potentially fatal injuries.”

But how will the company know? Well, they have been pretty honest with this one. They admit that it is not always possible to determine whether you were wearing a lid. However, quite often, if you have an accident, the medical records can be examined to determine whether you were wearing head protection.

Helmets nowadays are not as heavy and ugly as they were in years gone by, and therefore more and more people are choosing to wear one.

In fact, Essential Travel carried out some research that showed that 77% of British skiers wear helmets when out on the slopes, which is a rise of 15% in the last two years. The company’s decision to make helmets compulsory was supported by tour operators including Neilson and Ellis Brigham as well as some pretty high profile figures in the winter sports world.

Jenny Jones, the British snowboarder is one of those. She said: “I'd definitely say wear a helmet, especially if you're going to go in the park or going to ride jumps.

“I've hit my head a lot of times, had a few concussions, definitely had a helmet with a crack in it and had to replace it.

“I've seen friends who have had head injuries and their helmets have definitely saved them.”

Obviously snowboarders have far, far more reason to wear a helmet than their skiing buddies. Catching an edge and the nature of the sport both combine to make head injuries far more common in snowboarding than in skiing. Some skiers will surely complain about the ‘nanny-state-ness’ of making helmets compulsory and some have also said that more emphasis should be put on educating people so that they choose to wear one as opposed to forcing them to do so.

What I have noticed is that people don’t like to be told what to do, even when it is for their own good. So, is this a vital step in making helmets compulsory across the pistes of the world, would that be a good thing? What do you think? Let us know, maybe we can get to the bottom of it.

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