More than a million UK skiers will grab their bobble hats and head for the slopes this winter. Unfortunately, around one in 10 of them will suffer an injury and need medical treatment during the holiday. As most tour operators do not allow customers to travel without insurance the real trouble starts when your cover is not adequate. An estimated Â£7.5 million a year is claimed on winter sports insurance. 'You are twice as likely to suffer an accident on a winter break than a summer vacation,' says Michael Liddel of Sainbury's Bank. When it comes to choosing a policy, make sure you check the small print. Sainsbury's Bank estimates that during 2003, up to 63,800 claims worth about Â£25.5m were rejected because skiers had inadequate cover. Buying travel insurance has never been easier but with such a wide range of providers and policies, here's how to choose cover which is right for you. Standard travel insurance does not generally include cover for skiing and other winter sports. If you have an existing annual policy, you should find it easy to buy a top up. If you are buying a fresh policy for a ski trip then do not be tempted to settle for the small amount of reciprocal cover provided by the E1-11 form. This may provide for some basic medical costs but it will not pay for a mountain rescue, which could set you back several thousand pounds if a helicopter is needed, and it does not cover additional repatriation costs. Nor does it stretch to North America, where even a relatively minor injury can cost several hundred pounds and the average bill for torn ligaments is around Â£2,500. As a guideline, good winter sports policies should include the following: Personal accident cover of Â£2 million for medical expenses. This should include rescue and repatriation cover and the cost of physiotherapy on your return home. Many policies also offer some compensation for missed skiing or snowboarding lessons, passes and equipment hire which have been paid for in advance. Personal liability and legal cover (if you responsible for someone else's injury) of at least Â£2 million. This is particularly important if you are skiing in the US where American skiers happily sue resort and lift companies and will sue you if you are unlucky enough to be involved in a collision. Be aware that your claim may not be met if an accident occurs after a few âapres skiâ drinks. Piste closure and avalanche cover. Some insurance policies pay out if the pistes are closed because there is not enough snow or if risk of avalanche or high winds force lift closure. But most do not pay out if the reverse happens and the pistes have to be shut because of too much snow. If you are unlucky enough to suffer in this way, check the requirements of your policy - you may need a signed and dated report from the resort manager in order to make a claim. If skiing at an alternative resort is offered then you are unlikely to have grounds for a claim. Equipment cover. Do not assume that hired kit is insured by the hire company. If you arrive without it you may be forced to take out the hire company's own cover, at considerable expense. Theft of snowboards and skis from mountain restaurants has increased substantially, particularly in Europe. Many insurers insist that cover is in place only if equipment has been left in locked racks and some insist on skis being split and stored separately. You may want to check whether your lift pass is covered for loss or theft. Maximum levels of cover are around Â£600 for personal equipment and Â£500 for hired. Snow boarding and other activities. If you are feeling adventurous, bear in mind that most insurance policies stick to the basics. Nearly a quarter of those taking part in winter sports in 2003 were snowboarders. The sport has grown in popularity by more than 200% in the last three years but do not assume your insurance will automatically cover you. Check your cover beforehand if you are considering snowcat skiing, heliskiing, skidooing, bobsleighing, glacier skiing, tobogganing and ski races. Off-piste. For those intent on heading off-piste, things become trickier. Watch out for policies that do not cover going off-piste, even if it happens unintentionally. Approximately one in five fall into this bracket. Most will provide cover but look out for small print requiring you to be with an instructor or be an experienced skier. Cost of cover Many single trip winter sports policies cost more than annual policies and so anyone going abroad twice a year or more, could make significant savings with an annual world wide multi-trip policy that includes winter sport insurance. But make sure you do not exceed any limits to the number of days of winter sports cover provided. To get the best value for money, do not cut corners and avoid leaving insurance until the last minute. UK holidaymakers waste up to Â£235 million every year by settling for the cover offered by their travel agent instead of shopping around.