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How to Travel with Sports Equipment

traveling with snowboards
Allianz - traveling with snowboards

Should you rent gear or pack your own? That’s the eternal question for active travelers. Renting can be expensive, the equipment may be poor-quality, and it’s just not the same as using your personal gear.

Traveling with sports equipment, however, can be a challenge — and a risk, if your stuff gets lost or damaged.

Allianz Travel Insurance is here to assist with tips for keeping your gear safe in transit.

Travel Insurance for Sports Equipment

Did you know that sports equipment is excluded from coverage in many travel insurance plans? Things like bikes and skis are considered high-value items (and are also attractive to thieves), and so many plans won’t protect them. The OneTrip Premier plan can!

OneTrip Premier includes up to $1,000 in benefits to repair or replace sporting equipment that’s lost or damaged by a travel carrier, or stolen, while you’re on your trip. It also includes sporting equipment rental coverage, which reimburses you up to $1,000 to rent replacement gear if yours is delayed, lost, stolen or damaged.

There are a few things you need to know about travel insurance protection for sports equipment:

  • For equipment that is lost or damaged, insurance will pay the lowest of the following (up to the maximum limit): its actual cash value, the cost to repair it, or the cost to replace it. So, for example, if your snowboard binding gets damaged in transit, and the cost to fix it is lower than the board’s actual value, your insurance would pay for repair — not to replace the entire snowboard.
  • You need to provide original receipts for any lost items. Insurance can cover up to 75% of the actual cash value for items without a receipt. Don’t have the receipt? Contact the shop where you bought your gear to see if they can provide it.
  • You must have taken reasonable steps to keep your sporting equipment safe and intact and to recover it. Did your mountain bike get stolen because you left it unlocked outside your hotel all night? Well, insurance might not cover that loss.
  • If your gear is lost or stolen, make sure you file a report (including its description and value) within 24 hours with the appropriate local authorities, travel carrier, hotel, or tour operator. If you’re not sure how to do that, or you need help with language interpretation, contact 24-hour assistance.
  • Damage to sporting equipment can only be covered if the damage occurred while it’s being transported by a travel carrier. Crash your bike on the trail? That damage won’t be covered by insurance.

OneTrip Premier includes other protections for active travelers, such as reimbursement of fees for sports activities if you must miss the activity for a covered reason. Read your plan documents to get the full details.

How to Travel With Skis and Snowboards

Ski and snowboard gear is big, bulky and heavy. The solution? Invest in a high-quality roller bag for your winter sports equipment. An extra-large bag (as long as it fits your airline’s size requirements) can be a good choice because you can use it to stash winter clothing. Be sure to check the airline fees for checking your equipment! Some airlines may charge the standard checked-bag fee, while others may hit you with higher fees for oversize/overweight bags.

What about your boots? Stow them in your carry-on luggage if possible, Men’s Journal advises: “It takes a long time to make ski boots comfortable, and the only thing worse than being without them on the slopes is slipping into a new pair of hard, plastic foot binders and starting over from scratch.”1

If flying with your snowboard/ski gear is too difficult, and you don’t want to rent it at your destination, consider shipping it instead. Companies like Luggage Forward and ShipSkis offer door-to-door pickup and delivery worldwide. Travel insurance won’t cover shipped items, however, so consider buying additional protection.

Can travel insurance cover losses related to skiing or snowboarding? That depends. Heli-skiing, or skiing or snowboarding in an area designated unsafe by resort management, are excluded from travel insurance coverage. Normal recreational skiing and snowboarding are not generally considered high-risk activities that would be excluded from travel insurance coverage (unless you’re training for, or participating in, an amateur or professional competition).

Read more: Travel Insurance for Your Ski Trip

How to Travel With Surfboards

Despite their size, surfboards are fragile. They can easily get cracked, dinged, dented or broken. When you’re flying with a surfboard, taking some extra time to pack it properly can make a huge difference. Surfer Today advises using five layers of protection: foam insulation for the rails, tail and nose; bubble wrap all over; a board sock over that; beach towels for added padding; and a heavy-duty surfboard bag to hold it all. If you’re traveling with multiple boards, place padding between them (use wetsuits or rash guards to save space) and strap them together.

Airline policies and fees for surfboards vary dramatically. Some charge just the standard checked-bag fee (righteous!), while others may charge hundreds of dollars for excess/oversize luggage (gnarly).

Can travel insurance cover losses related to surfing? It can. Surfing is not generally considered a high-risk activity that would be excluded from travel insurance coverage (unless you’re training for, or participating in, an amateur or professional competition).

How to Travel With a Bike

Planning a cycling adventure? You may want to consider renting a bike at your destination, because flying with a bicycle isn’t that easy. If you’re set on bringing your own, just make sure you pack your bike with care.

All airlines require bicycles to have the handlebars and pedals removed and tires deflated.2 But that’s just the beginning: Depending on how you’re packing the bike, you may also need to take off the seat, front or both wheels and the rear derailleur. Placing spacers in the forks and under the brakes can help prevent damage in transit.

The simplest way to pack a bike for travel is in a cardboard box (with plenty of padding). A bike bag or bike travel case offers more protection, however, and can reduce the amount of disassembly you have to perform. Remember to pack the tools and accessories you need to put the bike back together, as well as an air pump and spare parts. And, just like with other sports equipment, check your airline’s fees and policies on flying with bicycles.

Can travel insurance cover losses related to cycling? It can. Cycling is not generally considered a high-risk activity that would be excluded from travel insurance coverage (unless you’re training for, or participating in, an amateur or professional competition).

How to Travel With Scuba Gear

Flying with dive equipment can be pricey, but serious divers prefer to bring their own gear — especially their mask, regulator and dive computer. Pack all your dive equipment carefully, keeping airline weight limits in mind. If your gear is too heavy to check without incurring overweight fees, consider renting items like wetsuits, dive weights and fins at your destination.

Sport Diver has some other tips for traveling with scuba gear:

  • Don’t put dive logos/insignia on your luggage, because that will catch thieves’ attention.
  • Put your dive computer inside a foam koozy for extra protection.
  • Tuck your mask inside of an open-heel fin pocket.

Can travel insurance cover losses related to scuba diving? That depends: Deeper and riskier dives may not be covered. Most travel insurance plans exclude losses if they involve free diving at a depth greater than 30 feet (10 meters) or scuba diving at a depth greater than 100 feet (30 meters) or, for uncertified divers, diving without a certified dive master. OneTrip Premier, however, includes the Adventure & Sports Exclusion Change, which waives exclusions for some losses due to participating in certain higher-risk sporting activities (including diving deeper than 100 feet.)

Need to find out if your specific activities can be covered? Just ask! Contact us anytime.

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