Are the days of shredding in your beanie numbered? Win yourself a WL hat for your comments.

Jaques Alakka enjoys a piste shred in his beanie. If he’d taken out a new policy with Essential Travel, he wouldn’t be insured. Photo: Lolli

We get sent a lot of gumpf in this job – press releases, offers, the usual spam. Yesterday an email arrived that almost slipped through the net. It was from an insurance company. Sounds boring already eh?

As I was readying the ‘delete’ key, however, I glanced at the subject line. “UK Industry First: No helmet, no insurance”.

Yes, quietly thrown out onto the wintersports industry newswires was the bombshell that Essential Travel will no longer insure skiers or snowboarders who don’t wear a lid on the mountain.

“Research has revealed that 77% of skiers/snowboarders are now wearing helmets when they hit the slopes,” claimed the press release, probably accurately. It also revealed that “73% felt that they should be rewarded for the decision to protect themselves by paying lower travel insurance premiums.”

Again, this in itself does not sound massively controversial. If you’re one of the many snowboarders who wears a helmet, then perhaps you do feel entitled to a discount. Only, it’s not that simple. While Essential Travel say they will be lowering their premium by 15%, this is across the board. In other words, it’s not one price for those who wear a helmet and another for those who don’t: they will now refuse to cover those people who ski or snowboard without one.

Jamie Nicholls, the UK’s most famous helmet advocate. He’d be in line for a cheaper premium under the new insurance deal. Photo: Bullit

Whilst helmets are already compulsory in more and more snowparks, particularly in North America, this raises a whole new precedent. Forget arguments over style, and whether the no-helmet approach favoured in skateboarding is more ‘legit’; with Essential Travel, you would straight-up be violating your policy should you forgo a lid anywhere on the mountain. The obvious objection to this is that most injuries would not be avoided with a helmet. Knee damage, broken limbs, twisted ankles, bruised ribs – there are countless ways to hurt yourself snowboarding, and it seems unfair not to pay out if you weren’t wearing head gear.

Pre-empting this complaint was Essential Travel’s Stuart Bensusan:

“Whilst it is true that a helmet does not reduce all sports injury, it seriously reduces the risk of potentially fatal injuries. That alone warrants making wearing helmets compulsory, and we choose to completely support safety conscious skiers by rewarding them with reduced premiums and bonus discounts.”

Now, while that sounds well-meaning, it seems fair to assume that Essential Travel are not making this move out of the goodness of their hearts, or some moral imperative to keep us safe. No, the aim is to appeal to a growing market of lid-wearing potential customers and, quite possibly, to save them money in payouts. “Oh, you broke your arm without a helmet? Sorry, you’re not covered – read the small print.”

For now it is just one company, and of course you are free to take them up on their deal or not. However, if it does indeed prove a lucrative move, then you can bet your bottom dollar more insurance companies will follow suit. In short: are the days of wearing your beanie on the mountain numbered?

What do you think of the idea? Do you prefer riding in a beanie or a helmet? Is this a sensible marketing ploy or the thin end of the wedge? Have your say in the comments below, and our favourite one will win a WL beanie.

** Press Release in Full **

UK Industry First: No Helmet, No Insurance!

Essential Travel Announce Helmet Wearing Mandatory for Wintersport Insurance Cover

Research by travel insurance specialist, http://www.essentialtravel.co.uk, has revealed that 77% of skiers/snowboarders are now wearing helmets when they hit the slopes – a 15% increase since 2010 when the “Use Your Head” campaign was launched. The poll also confirmed that of these, 73% felt that they should be rewarded for decision to protect themselves by paying lower travel insurance premiums.

As a result, from November 1st it is mandatory to wear a helmet in order to benefit from the protection offered on all Essential Travel’s Winter sports Insurance policies – skiers who do not wear a helmet will risk invalidating their policy.

Essential Travel’s Stuart Bensusan comments: “Whilst it is true that a helmet does not reduce all sports injury, it seriously reduces the risk of potentially fatal injuries. That alone warrants making wearing helmets compulsory, and we choose to completely support safety conscious skiers by rewarding them with reduced premiums and bonus discounts.”

By making ski helmets mandatory for insurance cover, Essential Travel are able to offer:

15% discount on Essential Travel Winter sports insurance premiums
Discounts with Neilson Holidays (up to 25%), Ellis Brigham (10%), Tail-Wags (10%) and Facewest (10%)
In addition, Essential Travel are also donating £1 for each policy bought to the brain injury charity https://www.headway.org.uk/home.aspx

** Ends **

  1. Rowena Pabo

    Insurance is vital your website has lots of great info. We appreciate you spreading anything you recognize.I will take a note of your web site

  2. Kerry

    Where will it end, you have to wear wrist guards or we won’t cover you for broken wrists?

  3. Joe Emerick

    I wear a beanie-helmet combo, so I’m happy either way. What’s their classification of a helmet? Wish they’d hurry up with these…
    http://vimeo.com/43038579

  4. caroline

    The desicion to wear a helmet is usally down to what riding i’m doing, the weather conditions, and who i’m riding with! Off piste with the team lid goes on everytime, soft piste riding with typical chalet girls, beanie. But whatever day your having it comes with risks. What i do notice is that when i have a helmet on i do ride alot harder and faster and if i’m in full body protection i foolishly seem to think i’m indestuctable and will risk alot more especially off piste in the trees. Which usually leads to a fantastic day of nailing sweet lines or occassionally sweet trees nailing me! Most of the injuries i’ve pick up have been when i’m wearing a helmet as a consequence of pushing it. If you can get insurance cheaper for wearing a helmet, then fair enough, but will they also do “no claim bonuses” for the majority of people who ride carefully and don’t have accidents???

    1. Simon Dedman

      +1 for no claims bonuses idea – brilliant!

  5. Skifi

    Congratulations to all of them!!!Very good effort!!!Keep going!!!

  6. Kezza

    I always wear a helmet and have had two totally random saves by them … A skier threw his skis over his shoulder in a gondola queue and smashed me on the head with the metal blades!!! Beautiful dented helmet and just a mere headache for moi… And walking home après ski …. Slipped on ice and helmet scrapped along a wall ….. Who says they only save you on piste :-) hi five and total welcome this idea

  7. simon andrews

    I actually cannot think of a legit well reasoned excuse for not wearing a helmet, i mean would you head to the backcountry without your gear and knowing the conditions?. whilst it might not cover knees etc at least a blow ACL won’t leave you dribbling in hospital. I think there needs to be way tighter controls on wearing helmets in ski resorts, I wear mine ALL the time having had a few rather nasty concussions, on the groomers its more to protect you from other people! sticking a helmet on isn’t much to ask really in the grand scale of things is it? and if it stops you becoming a vegetable then so much the better!

  8. Tim Waterworth

    I wear a helmet on-piste, off-piste and in the park. The way I see it my brain is my only real asset. Anything that can reduce the severity of of head injuries has to be a good thing. It is obviously personal choice if people want to wear a helmet or not. It is also personal choice whether to buy insurance or who to buy it from. ET are hoping to attract lots of custom with lower prices, and this helmet policy may be taken up by competitors. However, it’s a free market, and if there is demand for it then policies that don’t stipulate compulsory helmet wearing will be available at greater cost. This is how insurance works: they look at the risk and set a premium that they can profit from but that is not so high that no-one will pay it.

    @You-Can Call-Me Al: Whilst you wouldn’t personally be making an insurance claim after a fatal accident, your grieving family will benefit from the payout, hopefully covering the cost of repatriating your body and funeral. If you were medevaced by helicopter before dying in hospital your family would be pursued for the £50000 or so that the non-UK rescue services charge and any medical expenses incurred antemortem, which would be covered by decent insurance polices (always read the small print).

  9. Simon Dedman

    Playing devil’s advocate here, I can see that lowering everyone’s premiums by 15% will be offset by the reduction in ‘rare but megapricey’ payouts for brain injury. Subsequently this move could be WELCOMED by us: it allows those who always wear a helmet to benefit from cheaper premiums.

    Among everyone else, there’s a split: those that manage their risk & those who don’t. For those that do, hopefully this precedent by E.T. results in a snow insurance company doing micro-tailored insurance, whereby your fee is the sum of your individual premiums for each risk type. One could choose their own place on the premium-payout relationship curve, which would change by a standard amount if you’re in armour. That is, you’d pay a lower premium for wearing armour on the body part, and get a higher payout if you subsequently injure it, and vice versa. This would allow us to benefit from a much fairer system, tailored to each individual, with the side benefit that it would give everyone the opportunity to better understand the relative risks of their sport, leading to more informed decision making on buying/wearing armour and potentially cheaper premiums all round: rather than a blanket system, learners who might otherwise go without armour would be incentivised buy & wear it, since the upfront costs will be offset by the reduced insurance, thus lowering injuries/fatalities (and pricey payouts). Similarly, experienced folk won’t have to overpay for their actual risk level.

    On the side topic of armour, I think all learners would benefit from the full set – helmet, wrists, knees, coccyx, the lot. As well as protecting you from inevitable lower frequency, higher risk crashes, it minimises the aches & confidence losses you get from regular spills and edge-catches, which slow your advancement. Once you’ve improved until your probability of error is nearly-none, then you’re more justified if you decide that, for example, you’d prefer to your mincey day of cruising blues to be done without a helmet, in order to allow your stinking hangover to breathe ;)

    After the dystopian future, I thought it’d be nice to paint the ‘glass half full’ picture!

  10. Maverick

    The purist in us will shun helmets and will sigh at the thought of covering our ‘Whitelines’ beanie up while cruising the slopes.
    I had to convert after having kids as i needed to lead by example and must admit it has saved my nut a few times.

    Sadly the over the top ‘Elf & Safety’
    regulations thrust on a lot of resorts & insurance companies means more of us will be forced to comply if we want to be sure of being covered.

  11. Galli

    So what constitutes a helmet ?
    I’ve worn my Protect since missing a day on the slopes with concussion but who decides if my helmet is up to the standard ?
    Motorcycle and bicycle helmets meet a standard – at least in the UK – is it the same for Snowboarding helmets ?
    Maybe it’s time to design a beanie with a hard shell insert :-)

  12. Dunx

    This is about one thing and that’s this insurance company saving money. If head injuries mean lots of large pay outs, then why wouldn’t they insist on you wearing them and lower premiums accordingly. I don’t mind if you don’t wear a lid, but I started wearing one when I had kids.

  13. Chris Moon

    Been boarding 7 years now and after 2 years ago racing my bro in megeve I caught an edge on a pot hole on the piste and managed 3 full cart wheels down the run before smashing my head off what felt like concrete only to realise it was piste. Thank f**k I wore my helmet. I now won’t even freestyle or anything without my lid. So in short I think more people should wear them as its there to save lives and if Jamie Nicholls can look sick in one SO CAN YOU!!!!

  14. Alex Deif

    Screw the fashion concious helmets these days look good, why not wear one. I’ve always boarded with one and seen plenty of muppets who have ruined holidays because they didnt were one. Mines saved my head numerous times, least of all when I went into a lift pylon. Might help if they were more affordable.

  15. charlie

    I used to have to wear a helmet to ride the big park in Whistler. You get used to it, and it doesn’t really matter about style because everyone knows you just have to wear it to ride there.

    I can fully see why people want to, especially in pipe or training on icy jumps, backcountry incase of rocks, or even just being crashed into by a sketchy tourist.

    That being said, I haven’t worn a helmet in 2 years now in Europe.

    Personally I just really don’t like the feel of riding with a helmet, I also find I hit my head a lot more, I don’t know if thats from the extra weight or in my head or just me, whatever. Also I find I get whiplash more often in things like simple ragdolling in powder.

    Im not saying wearing a helmet is good or bad, or my points are right or wrong, it’s just how I like to ride.
    Something about being told what I have to do when Im snowboarding… yea while snowboarding… come on…

    Whats next, not allowed to go riding on a hangover? That’s way more dangerous!

  16. Simon Greenwood

    I’ve been snowboarding for about four years now and only on my last holiday to France did I decide to buy and wear a helmet (for seven separate weeks before that I had only been beanie’d up). I’ve made the decision to wear a lid for two reasons: I’m actually more conscious of unforeseen head injuries than I used to be, now that I’m tackling kickers, boxes, powder, off piste and generally flying around a lot quicker than before, but also because I’m one of the ‘cool kids’ sporting a helmet cam.

    However, I do not agree that everyone should wear a helmet. I believe it’s important for kids and for people in snowparks, but for the average skier or snowboarder I think it should be left up to the individual to make the decision themselves. I will therefore not be supporting this insurance company by taking them up on their offer of cheaper winter sports insurance because I am now wearing a helmet. Most of my friends don’t wear helmets, although I think they may start to switch to wearing one like I have done, as we’re all attempting bigger and better (and potentially more dangerous things), but I believe it is entirely their decision not to wear one, and shouldn’t have their health insurance compromised as a result. There will also be times when I won’t wear my helmet, particularly if I know we won’t be doing anything ‘extreme’ that day. I’d much rather just wear a beanie than a helmet as well. It makes you hotter, it’s more cumbersome, and my goggles don’t fit perfectly with it.

    Surely this company should also be encouraging winter sports lovers to be wearing all sorts of protection? Wrist guards, elbow and knee pads, back protection etc. I believe most injuries suffered by skiers and snowboarders are not head-related whereas arm, leg and back are far more common. Where will it end? I’m not a fan of this decision and I really hope it doesn’t catch on. But you can bet that if it does, there will be other industry-specialist companies who will offer traditional, old-fashioned ‘you don’t need a lid to get our insurance’ winter sports cover, who will market themselves at all of us. I’d rather pay a bit more and support something I believe in than get a discount for something I don’t. I implore everyone else to do the same.

  17. Rachel

    By making something compulsory only encourages people to avoid doing it to be cool. I’m a lid wearer, because lucky for my elbows and wrists, I don’t have the reflex of putting my hands down when I fall over….. I take it on the chin, so to speak. I’ve knocked myself out before wearing a lid, 20 mins confusion and forgetting who my boyfriend was, plus a black eye was as bad as it got. I dread to think how much worse it would have been without my lid.

    I just think we should all be looking out for each others safety on the hill, that way we can enjoy it more for longer. People ride differently, people fall differently, we should be encouraging each other to wear what you want on the mountain so you can ride your hardest and feel comfortable. Where do you draw the line with what is compulsory and what isn’t? And totally ridiculous if you were to brake your wrist but your insurance is invalid coz you were not wearing a helmet.

    Let’s face it, a rule never stopped anyone doing something they really wanted to do, snowboarding is about freedom and making decisions for yourself. I think pros riding in safety gear will have more of a positive effect on safety on the hill as they are the superheroes we all look up to and we need to realise no one is invincible.

  18. Vicks

    What if you were to slip over and hit your head in a mountain cafe, or you get taken out walking that last stretch across the piste to the apres bar? I’m not sure I like the grey area terminology around protecting my grey matter. I have a lid, but I don’t wear it 100% of the time on the mountain.

  19. Joel Jeffery

    I think the days of wearing a beanie are numbered regardless of what the insurance companies do. Most people used to consider whether it was ‘cool’ or not to wear a helmet, now it is compulsory in so many parks in North America the question now seems to be ‘how many beanies can I fit under my helmet?!”
    If you want to ride park, and the rest of the mountain at least in North America you aren’t going to keep your helmet next to your favourite rail, or carry it around when you aren’t riding park for a couple of hours.

    Regardless of whether you want to wear a helmet, it obviously reduces your risk of getting a serious injury – just like wearing a seatbelt in your car. Less serious injuries = less time spent getting people off the mountain, which helps save money for the guys running the mountain. It makes sense for all resorts to make helmet wearing compulsory, particularly in the park.

    At the end of the day insurance companies are there to make money, so there is obviously a commercial advantage for them this policy. If you take out a policy which requires you to wear a helmet, then just wear it! Besides, even if you did want to take out a policy with Essential Travel & not wear a helmet, then you could always ride with someone who can shove one on your head if you get injured!

  20. Dan Wakeham

    I think it makes total sense. If you were going to do 40-50mph on any other form of transport (motor bike) you would put a helmet on. Especially if you were going to jump that bike.
    Is there a clause for drink riding?

  21. whitelinesmag

    Congratulations to Andy, Will and Gavin Robbie – you’ve all won a WL beanie for your comments. Hit up sam@whitelines.com with your address and we’ll fire them out.

  22. david

    Wearing a helmet is cool anyway now a days! I remember in ’97 (when i started riding) getting a few negative comments about my helmet but i had grown up riding bmx and mtn bikes so it was the done thing. Hence why i wear impact shorts and shin/knee guards….Its not like you can even see them! Its not there to use but its there when you do make a mistake. It also means ill be able to ride the next day rather than be off snow for a few days/weeks or worst case the season. So of course this is good for the insurance companies, but its also good for me. I intend to hopefully use insurance companies the least amount possible in my life!

    Ive worn a helmet ever since i started riding and done seasons all around the world and definitely noticed the massive increase in helmet wearing. This new policy is a good thing even though we all know insurance companies are there to make money!

    Wear a helmet and probably just as importantly get a lesson and/or some coaching and youll be less likely to have to replace your favorite helmet!

  23. will

    I won’t engage in the whole helmet debate, but I will say that I don’t wear one, and if I was that worried about getting hurt snowboarding probably isn’t for me. However, that is MY choice, and for those who choose to wear one, that is THEIR choice. I wouldn’t visit a resort that insisted I wear a helmet, and I wouldn’t take insurance with this money grubbing company either. And nor should you, even if you’re so afraid of life you wear your helmet to the bar, and here’s why..
    Because once they see they can get away with this other companies will follow suit until helmets are compulsory across the board (pun intended).. and then what? Wristguards? Leashes? Bubblewrap? Hi Viz Jackets?
    How about if your insurance is void if you’ve been drinking alcohol? Or the visibility is poor? Or there’s a y in the day? These companies are constantly looking for ways to make more money, pay out less, and pretend it’s for your own good and the only way to stop them is to show that we won’t pay.. and this clause might not bother you, but the next one probably will.
    But fuck it, who cares, I’m in it for the snowboarding, not the politics, worst case scenario: insurance isn’t compulsory.. yet

    1. whitelinesmag

      Congrats Will, your vision of a dystopian future in which we all have to wear bubble wrap to get on the lift has earned you a beanie :) Drop us a line with your address and we’ll get it out to you – sam@whitelines.com

  24. Dmitry

    Hey guys, you should’ve given away a helmet not beanie for that matter!

  25. colin aries

    Has essential travel brought shares in Giro?

  26. Joe Richard

    Need insurance for being a snowboarder?
    Does anyone know if skydivers cannot get life
    insurance for not having a helmet?

  27. Dan Gibbons

    I wear a helmet now because I’ve got one. If I’m going to push my riding to up a notch I expect to slam a few times learning something new. So why not?

    Insurance is a waste of money if you don’t have to claim but if you have to use it, it’s a god send. And no one who rides a motorbike doesn’t wear a lid. It makes sense.

    I’ve just paid less than £40 on insurance for a week in Mayrhofen. No mention of safety gear. So until it’s local law at the resort, it’ll be up to the rider anyway. No need to fuss.

  28. Chris JH

    don’t agree with the boying off people that dont wear helmets that’s their choice. i choose to wear one myself self simply because ive smashed my noggin enough times and dont wanna risk putting myself out of riding or worse on a stupid stack. besides, helmets nowadays looks pretty sick, just dont buy a shit one

  29. Chris Cracknell

    Total bullshit, what next, we must all wear body armour?

  30. Si D'Arcy

    I was going to write a long story weighing up the benefits of wearing a helmet vs the rights of choice.

    But then I realised that my helmet has saved my life and not wearing one is about as badass as riding one handed on a bicycle.

    1. FredTheShred

      Over a decade ago I’d mock my mate for wearing a helmet, which I’m slightly embarrassed about now. Since I got one, I could never imagine riding without it. I also believe that wearing one gives you a little confidence boost to push yourself harder too, so on balance, might not be a whole lot safer.

  31. Andy

    How will they know if you were wearing a helmet when you were injured?? Are they going to send spies to all the resorts in the world??

    1. whitelinesmag

      We were wondering this ourselves Andy. Have a beanie and let us know if you get busted ;) Hit up sam@whitelines.com with your address.

  32. Gavin Robbie

    I must admit, it does smell of a publicity stunt. Will there be any proof that they’ve cut prices by 15%, or will it be in line with general increases in price so that you don’t really notice the difference.

    I think its easy to get carried away with a different argument. As Mr Rad Shot said earlier, this isn’t whether helmets are a good idea, its whether making them compulsory to obtain insurance cover is good.

    I personally wear a helmet whenever I’m riding and quite frankly it feels weird if I don’t. But I don’t think this is necessarily something that should be celebrated. If they make money off it, then why won’t other companies follow suit. Again, it would perhaps be fair enough if they were giving a choice by insuring everyone but giving lower premiums for those wearing a helmet, but that’s the case – its a blanket ban for anyone not wearing a helmet. If it becomes industry standard, then it is basically banning beanies via the back door!

    If this is a success, it may well be the thin end of the wedge – if statistics show that wearing wrist guards, back protectors or impact shorts reduces insurance payouts (Cos lets face it, its to do with the money insurance companies payout, not whether its good for us snowboarders!), then, logically, why wouldn’t they stop covering anyone not wearing all of them. And this would be a pain for me, cos I’ve tried them all, I don’t get on with them and in my opinion I don’t need them…

    1. whitelinesmag

      Good points well made Gavin, have a beanie :) Hit up sam@whitelines.com with your address

  33. Gordon Jilks

    If you ride piste there are tw@ts that ride dangerously around you (and usually mobbed). In the park I’m quite likely to hit my head at some point and off-piste a big rock could be hiding anywhere. Helmet for the ride and beanie for the bar every time for me.

  34. FocusFreesports

    Wont be long until you wont be covered unless you go out in the latest battle-armour offerings from Dainese, RED, Forcefield, etc etc etc.

    It could go so over the top with compulsory equipment that it’ll become cheaper to not get health insurance but just equipment insurance to cover breakages/theft of the helmets, knee pads, wristguards, back protectors and the like.

  35. James Langston

    I think the UK scene’s attitude towards helmet wearing is pretty good on the whole, due in no small part to the indoor freestyle scene making helmet wearing the norm, and socially acceptable…no british rider I have ever spoken to has a negative thing to say about wearing a helmet.

    The USA on the other hand…attitudes towards helmets seem much more negative, very few american pros wear helmets in video parts and resort locals and rippers are all far too cool to be seen wearing them.

  36. mike vidler

    i wear one when i,m in the park and if i,m going down sketchy off piste but not on the piste.i would see wrist guards as being more use seen more broken arms than head injurys also i dont think it should be compulsory just strongly advised as it is now

  37. Martin Ritchie

    Here’s a link to the ‘Moving Forward’ film that Rick Thompson mentioned earlier – http://youtu.be/VZnALI7Lz1A – well worth a watch.
    Even not wearing a helmet, Danny Toumarkine is one lucky fella!

  38. Martin Ritchie

    I can’t see how Essential Travel are going to make more money out of this – you either wear a helmet and get their cover -15% cheaper, or don’t wear a helmet and buy their cover at full price which is invalid anyway because you’re not wearing a helmet… anyone who wastes money doing that must’ve had a bump on the head!

  39. Jeff Aitchison

    This is all well and good that heads are protected but I think it is just an underhand way of not paying out. Just another excuse to extort money from the perceived wealth of the ski and snowboard industry. If you injure
    yourself without a helmetthey don’t

  40. Chris Dainton

    I find that I am more inclined to push myself to my limits and beyond when wearing a helmet. It’s a false security though isn’t it. If you’re bombing down a slope and hit something at any speed then these helmets won’t save your nogging.

    Added to this is the fact that you’re more likely to get a neck injury (whiplash) whilst wearing a helmet, due to the added weight, in any or all falls.

    Also, if my friend had a fall and hurt him/herself whilst not wearing a helmet, and I was wearing a helmet, then hey presto – my friend is now wearing a helmet…

    I’m a great advocate of wearing a helmet, contrary to my above comments, but this seems like an ill thought out scheme which runs the risk of dirtying the name of Essential Travel.

    After all, “freedom is the right of all sentient beings” – Optimus Prime!!!

  41. RadShotPics

    The question isn’t: are helmets a good idea? The question is: should it be up to an insurance company to make us wear them? It would no doubt save some horrific injuries if we all wore helmets to drive a car, or cross the road… Should they start adjusting their car/life insurance policies accordingly? You know, to keep us all safe and *cough* make more money *cough*?

  42. Hagop

    I’ve been wearing a helmet since I started riding in 1999. It’s saved me from at least 3 potentially fatal injuries, and probably 20 minor ones that would have ended my day or week of riding. As far as I’m concerned, the more people who wear them the better. Kids growing up riding should not be able to point at adults who don’t wear helmets and say ‘you have to look like that to be cool’

  43. sam

    Comment from James Allen (was too long for him to post):

    Since I started shredding at the age of 12, my parents always said, “if we buy the pass, you wear a helmet”. Fair enough, I thought this was the best approach for bringing up young boarders. Last year, I started going up on the weekends with friends, and did a week in Val Thorens, which I payed for entirely myself. Even knowing that I wouldn’t have to wear a helmet, I still did. I actually got a nice new one right before going. Here is why: Me and my dad were doing a deep powder day late last year in a tiny resort called Greolieres-les-nieges. We dropped down onto the un-pisted side of the mountain and started heading around the side of the to get back to the town. At some point I lost him in the trees, not a big worry, I carried on towards the bottom of the resort. I waited for him there and he turns up 10 minutes later, and he walks straight past me. I tap on his shoulder, and he turns and asks “who are you?” he then did the same thing to my mother and my brother who were in a cafe nearby. He couldn’t remember anything, and was totally confused and disoriented. I picked up his helmet to see that it had strips of bark and a dent in it. He hit a tree, HARD. 30 minutes later, his memory slowly recovered fully and he was fine, but that was the scariest half hour of my life. If he had stayed that way, I would have lost my father into his own mind, he would have forgotten how to do his job and everything about his life. If he wasn’t wearing a helmet, he would definitely been killed.

    Just for that one story, I will always wear a helmet, and I certainly believe that everyone under 18 (during which the brain is more sensitive and forming) should have to wear a helmet. After that, they should be allowed to choose for themselves. I think this should be an agreement made when your purchase your ski-pass. Helmets are so cheap. Shops like Decathlon in France offer EXTREMELY cheap helmets that are EXCELLENT quality, light and strong, with a nice choice of decals.

    Ride safe.

  44. Conor Lucas

    I think it should be the riders choice, however, countless people worry how they look on the slopes and therefore do not wear a helmet. Snowboarders look up to the pro’s just as in any other sport and it seems to me that if more pro’s were to wear helmets, Joe Bloggs would wear one too. I agree with the reduced insurance as it acts as another incentive for people to get a lid on. Personally though i see this as the insurance companies finding another way to make more money and the problem should be addressed through the resort instead.

  45. George Blomfield

    Helmets are great but making them compulsory runs counter to the history, spirit and nature of our passtime. Would you be keen to hear that insurance companies would not pay out if you had ridden a black run, gone out in flat light or otherwise ” increased your risk of potentially fatal injuries”
    When you’re happy to let the suits decide how much risk you can or cannot take maybe its time to hang up your boots and dust off your stamp collection.

  46. Steven Peace

    The trick now would be to get an insurance policy with the helmet at perches. The two products could work hand in hand now with sponsorship deals and also promote the wearing of helmets through the riders.
    If thought out properly every one can profit including the buyer.

  47. karl reed

    Been riding for over 15 years now & have had helmets ever since my 1st child started ski-school, about 10 years ago now, as it was a must for her, and it was the only way we could convince her to wear one. Besides the lid protecting me from my own inability to stay upright, especially in the park, I’m more aware now of it protecting me from other riders behaving like dicks. No they dont prevent a lot of injuries but atleast you’re able to recall them.

  48. James O'Hara

    BLLLAAARRRRGGHH CAPITALISM INSURANCE EVIL!! you lot make me sick! Oh wait no one has done that yet (well one person kinda)… there will be a market for this as the previous comments show but there have always been ways around this stuff (dislocate your knee on an off piste kicker with basic insurance and have your mates drag you back to the piste on your board before getting the lifties. Helmets are the sensible way to go but in the end it’s your choice, whether your insurance demands it or not.

  49. Hayden

    Helmets are a good idea, obviously. But making someone wear one will not catch on I shouldn’t think/hope. People should wear them, but not because they have to! That’ll create a negative outlook on them!

    Anyway, I vote not the end of headwear on the slopes as we know it.

  50. Rick Thompson

    Sounds like a ploy to make money, insurance companies don’t care about you. But if it encourages people to wear a helmet then it can’t be all bad. I used to just wear a helmet only when it’s compulsory at domes but when I saw Danny Toumarkine in Moving Forward(Skull in stomach), and having had a few lucky breaks myself, I thought why not wear a helmet all the time, it’s better than brain damage.
    Also seeing a few pro’s/sponsored riders wearing helmets in this years snow flicks is encouraging.

  51. Martin Lee

    Seems pretty fair to me, if you don’t want the 15% discount choose a different company.
    However, I’d be keen to read the small-print, just to make sure they don’t expect helmets to be worn for the duration of the cover. What if you fall out of bed? Fall over at the airport? :P

  52. Martin Ritchie

    I wear a helmet when I’m mountain biking, and when I cycle to work. I wear a helmet on a motorbike, when go-carting, or driving my car on a track day. It makes sense – these can be dangerous sports or activities. So why should skiing or snowboarding be any different?
    Whether it’s cruising pistes in resort (or hooning about at Mach 10), indoors on a freestyle night, or going off piste – protecting your head should be everyone’s first priority.

    A friend of mine had a bad fall in resort and was lucky to only get concussion – couldn’t remember his girlfriend (who was there), his family or anything for 24 hours. And he was lucky.
    Some say you they look silly wearing a helmet – well, you’d look even more stupid in a hospital bed wired up to a life-support machine that’s keeping you alive while your parents wipe the dribble off of your chin.

    I think this move by Essential Travel is a good idea, and I hope the rest of the insurance industry follows their lead and insists people wear helmets to qualify for cover.

  53. Dale Ashworth

    Break wrist, ride home, get changed. Do you have to wear your helmet to the medical centre?

    An excellent way to get your company name out there while ensuring nobody takes your policy.

    Dummy week away, £47 for a week of grade 4 cover. Rip off.

  54. You-Can Call-Me Al

    This seems a little unfair! I wear a helmet if I’m having a park day or riding back country, but If I’m just blasting pistes I prefer a beanie every time. I’m also a lot less likely to make an insurance claim if I suffer a fatal head injury.

  55. Raf

    The UK is a bad place for insurance. Look at the ‘deals’ we get on our cars. I can see this becoming a norm very quickly if they do well this season.
    I for one vary my helmet use. I don’t want to risk my insurance being voided because I decided to take it easy and not wear one.
    Lets look for insurance abroad.

  56. Karl Blackburn

    Personally I think it’s a good idea. I wear a “skid lid” on the mountain as I don’t want a local charger ( usually french!!) to give me a new hair line if I don’t make a landing. KP was wearin a helmet at the time of his injury what would of happened if he wasn’t??

    1. asphinctersayswhat

      when you go as big as KP post a vid of it fella ; )

  57. Mark Toshack

    Never heard of the company, but I have always worn a helmet even to the UK snowdomes. I think everyone should wear helmets but that is my opinion which will not be the same as a person who rides without. Entirely up to the individual.

  58. Iain Mack

    I caught a heel edge and had concussion and after effects for months and had a helmet on.
    A neurologist said from the damage to the helmet it would have been a life changing injury without the helmet. Beanies for the Cafe but helmet always on the slope.

  59. Boardgrrrrl

    Your noggin is a pretty important piece of kit. My question is why WOULDN’T you want to wear one when throwing oneself down a mountain at pace?

    And don’t give me any shit about looking like a tool. That argument is as old as my knackered 2002 Nitro board.

    1. asphinctersayswhat

      Well i see the helmet police/sensible folk are out in full force once again…ride terrain suitable to your ability if your going somewhere/trying something new, stepping it up a little bit then use your common sense & maybe stick a lid on…

      Its usually the folk who are out of their depth, haven’t had a lesson in their life and are usually to busy listening to the justin blieber in their helmet earphones & sipping on their camelbacks that they are oblivious to whats going on around them who mess themselves up…

      Anyway rant over…I’ll make my decisions on what i wear & when

  60. Tinu

    I didn’t even own a helmet in my first 5-6 years of riding. I smashed my bulb against trees, lifts, ice, skiers and was lucky enough not to remain retarded. Fortunately, i took my hardest bumps with a lid on. First one was in Slovakia against a rock slightly covered by snow, which left me with a killer headache for the rest of the day. I took the seccond one in Austria, riding under the lift, where I hit a fence pole. I layed there for a while not knowing what the hell happened. I recall them as funny stories, but if i wouldn’t have had a helmet on…I don’t even want to imagine. Bottomline, fuck style, wear a lid; you can’t be lucky forever.

  61. Kerrie Cotman

    This is going to be a not bad idea executed poorly! i have been snowboarding 14 years, yes i have seen some nasty injuries on dendex but snow doesn’t react the same. i always wear a helmet in the park but not on the pieste, for obvious reasons. i dont wear a helmet when i am skateboarding on the streets and that is on concrete, it should be up to the rider not the company!

    1. Adam Skinner

      ok i dont know what just happened but that was me that wrote that, Facebook went glitchy and signed into a different user!

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