Mandatory ski liability insurance in Italy
As the Easter holidays approach and some last-minute bookings for the 2022 ski season are made, for those planning to ski in Italy, it is important to be aware of legal requirements to have liability insurance. Together with Paola Voghera of SCF Studio Legale in Milan, an expert lawyer in personal injury and snow sports, we consider this matter further.
References to skiers or skiing include snowboarders and snowboarding.
On 1 January 2022, Italy took a significant step by making it law for skiers to have third party liability insurance, for children under 18 to wear a helmet when skiing (previously the requirement was up to age 14) and prohibiting skiing whilst intoxicated.
Whilst for many responsible skiers these requirements are the norm, giving legal effect to them emphasises their importance. Estimates suggest that pre-pandemic each winter season in Italy saw approximately 30,000 snow sports accidents including about 20 deaths per year.
Accidents between skiers are unfortunately a frequent occurrence and where a person is proved to be at fault, then a liability to compensate the injured victim arises. Given collisions often occur at high speed then injuries can be very serious with significant (and costly) implications such as medical treatment, long rehabilitation, absence from work and associated loss of earnings, care and assistance to name a few. Damages for injury can also be sought. These expenses/losses can be claimed from the at fault party but only recovered if that person has sufficient money to pay or adequate insurance to provide an indemnity.
A blanket legal requirement for all skiers to have insurance to cover against this can only be considered a sensible step therefore. The law imposes a duty on ski resorts to make liability policies available. There is no minimum indemnity level imposed by the law but the suggestion is that given ski injuries are often very serious and can sometimes involve fatalities, then for the policies to have value as intended, levels of indemnity need to reflect likely compensation levels.
Policies can be bought in resort and are estimated to cost approximately €2-3 per day. An assessment of current availability shows that limits of indemnity can vary in different resorts.
Prudent tourists have always purchased travel insurance including winter sports cover which will include public liability coverage when skiing. Checks should be made as to whether this satisfies the requirements of the law and evidence of the insurance should be carried whilst on piste, if the 'in-resort' insurance is not purchased in addition.
The advice to skiers is that checks should be made in advance, before travelling, to know exactly the requirements of the resort to which they are travelling.
Fines of €100-€150 can now be imposed on those skiing without insurance or without a helmet as well as ski-passes being confiscated.
For those found to be skiing whilst intoxicated, (which includes alcohol and drugs) fines of €250 - €1000 will be imposed. In terms of levels of permitted intoxication, the suggestion is that this will be similar to drink-driving levels in Italy. Police are responsible for testing and will likely use breathalysers, similar to those used on the road.
Irrespective of the mandatory requirement in Italy to have liability insurance and to wear a helmet, these are things that sensible skiers should always do.
If a legal requirement is needed to ensure participants conduct themselves responsibly when skiing by having liability insurance, wearing a helmet and not being intoxicated then it is to be encouraged. Indeed, it may not be too long before other countries with ski resorts follow suit.