Significant changes have allowed skiers who have chosen the slopes of Italian ski resorts to be welcomed back for the 2021-2022 winter season. In fact, the legislation has introduced an additional new rule, which is valid from 1 January 2022. The law (article 30 of Legislative Decree 40/2021) states: “The skier who uses the alpine ski slopes must have a valid insurance plan that covers his civil liability for damages or injuries caused to third parties. It is obligatory for the manager of the equipped ski areas, with the exclusion of those reserved for cross-country skiing, to make available to users, at the time of purchase of the transit permit, an insurance policy for civil liability for damage caused to persons or property.” This civil liability insurance is known in Italy as RCT insurance.
It's easy to comply with the law. Guests can arrive at their destination and activate the policy the same day, directly at the gate (if they didn't manage to do so before leaving their home country). The policy costs about €2 to €3 per day, and users can purchase plans that cover the whole season (or a week or month), to avoid the burden of paying for every day separately. If a skier doesn’t get insurance, they risk fines from €100 to €150 and the cancellation of their ski pass.
Equal liability in the result of an accident on the slopes
The rules also specify: “In the case of a collision between skiers, it is presumed, until proven otherwise, that each of them has contributed equally to causing any damage that may have occurred.” This means that, for better protection for both parties, it would be useful to take out an additional accident insurance policy, which is, however, not mandatory.
There are two important points worth remembering. The regulation prohibits skiing in a state of intoxication (both by alcoholic beverages and/or toxic substances) and requires wearing a helmet while practising sports (for those over 18). These points relate to RCT coverage. Think of a scenario where an accident on the slopes is caused by a drunk skier – in the case of a positive alcohol test, the weight of responsibility would change; it is therefore important to check exclusionary clauses within the policy, otherwise there is a risk that the company will not pay the claim.
If, on the other hand, the skier had an accident while not wearing a helmet, the decisive factor would be the accident policy: if it had not been stipulated, the provider might not cover any per diem or costs for medical expenses.
30,000 winter sports accidents per year in Italy
It could be argued that the introduction of RCT insurance will make the practice of winter sports on slopes more rigid, but this is not the case. In Italy, there are more than 5,700 km of downhill slopes, served by more than 1,700 ski lifts. Millions of downhill skiers and snowboarders ski these slopes every year. In the face of these numbers, every year there are about 30,000 accidents on the slopes; five per cent of these require hospitalisation.
Insurance becomes a way to make the many skiers pay attention and remind them that the slopes belong to everyone and are not a ‘jungle’ in which there are no rules.
What about fraudulent claims?
In Italy today, 18 per cent of insurance claims are potentially fraudulent. The role of service providers and international travel assistance companies in ensuring claims are genuine will be essential. Staff comprising forensic doctors and specialists, as well as teams of lawyers and experts who can correctly assess the dynamics of the facts, will serve to reduce the potential for fraudulent claims. In the case of fraud, the Witness Registry Database and the Injured Persons Registry Database of the Institute for Insurance Supervision (IVASS) also provide support.