As the days grow shorter and summer becomes a memory, many of us will be turning our thoughts towards planning a winter vacation, especially one involving winter sports such as skiing. Travel insurance is an often overlooked part of holiday planning, but if you plan on taking part in sporting activites then it really is essential. A normal travel insurance policy will probably not be up to the standard you need for winter sports, and if things go wrong you could be left facing a huge bill. So what features should you be looking for in a policy? - Injury Cover No matter how accomplished a skiier you are, hurtling down a mountain is always going to be more risky than simply lying on a beach working on a tan. And if you do have an accident, a mountainside isn't the easiest place for medical services to reach. If you're unlucky enough to need a mountain rescue or airlift to hospital, you'll be facing a bill running into the thousands even before you get medical attention. This sort of expense is likely to be specifically excluded on a standard insurance policy, but will be an integral part of almost any winter sports cover. - Equipment Most winter sports require expensive equipment, and where there are valuables there's always the chance of theft. Your insurance should provide enough cover to fully replace your equipment with brand new items if necessary, right there at the resort. Even if you plan to hire your equipment, the hire company will probably require insurance - and your own policy is likely to be cheaper than the standard one they'll try to sell you. - Liability Even the best skiiers or snowboarders can be involved in an accident in which someone else gets injured. Whether or not an accident is your fault, you could end up being taken to court and this is usually a long and expensive process. A decent insurance policy will cover costs from any legal proceedings and / or compensation payments. - Closure of Piste If bad weather (or warm weather!) means that the pistes are closed and you can't ski, your policy should pay you compensation to cover the costs of any pre-booked lessons or lift fees, and many will even include a payment simply to cover the inconvenience of not being able to ski. - Off Piste A final point to note is that a standard winter sports policy will probably only cover you for accidents that occur when skiing on designated pistes. If you plan to go off-piste, then make sure your insurance will cover this - you'll probably have to pay a supplement. As with most kinds of insurance, paying out for travel insurance can seem like a waste of money. However, if you find yourself caught up in an accident on the mountainside then the costs involved can be truly frightening and you'll be glad you took the time to arrange adequate cover in advance!