More than 2.5 million British adults who have been on winter sports holidays admit never checking whether they have taken out appropriate insurance, new Abta research reveals.

Members of the travel association reported two British ski-related fatalities and 197 significant incidents on the slopes overseas in the past 12 months.

However, the figures represent just those cases reported by members – and the association believes the total number of ski and snowboarding incidents to be much higher.

Overall, just over one in five (22%) people who have ever been on a winter sports holiday never check their insurance – rising to more than a quarter (28%) of people aged 55 and over.

Meanwhile, younger generations take the most care with their winter sports holiday cover, with only one in seven (15%) 18 to 24 year olds saying they never check if they have the right insurance.

Holidaymakers are also urged to wear a helmet at all times when taking part in winter sports. Many insurance policies request a helmet to be worn regardless of the local legal requirements.

Abta has teamed up with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and The Ski Club of Great Britain to provide advice from pre-departure to après ski.

The association’s destinations and sustainability director Nikki White said: “Thousands of people are hitting the slopes each year without the right travel insurance.

“Many wrongly assume they are automatically covered for winter sports as part of their travel insurance, putting them at risk of costly medical bills if they have an accident.

“As we head into the winter sports season we advise holidaymakers to check their insurance cover before travelling. It’s also important that holidaymakers get themselves ski-fit in order to be safe on the slopes.”

Susan Crown, FCO head of consular communications and engagement, added: “As the ski season gets under way, we recommend anybody heading for the slopes ensures they are well prepared so they have a safe and enjoyable holiday.

“It’s important to know that the FCO cannot pay medical bills if you are hospitalised abroad nor can we fly you home, and unexpected medical costs or returning to the UK can be very expensive.

“That’s why it’s worth taking a few minutes to be sure all planned activities are covered, and any medical conditions declared.

“This small step can help ensure that you get the support you need should anything go wrong. We want to encourage British nationals to #SkiSafe this winter.”

Ski Club of Great Britain CEO Darren Neylon said: “It’s really important to get fit ahead of your ski holiday, even if it’s just a bit of cycling or running at the weekend in the months ahead of your trip – regular exercise could help prevent injuries and make your slope time more enjoyable.

“Make sure your insurance covers you for all the activities you are likely to do in the mountains as many don’t cover off piste, touring or après ski activities like sledging or ice skating.

“It’s also worth checking that there are no age or medical condition exclusions applicable before you travel.

“More people are choosing to wear helmets than ever, in fact 97% of skiers and snowboarders who took part in our 2018 consumer research said they owned a helmet.”