Skiing: Six Percent Solution?

On Ira Dinkes's second day of snowboarding last winter, he broke his wrist. The injury rendered useless his $319 season lift pass at New Hampshire's Loon Mountain. So this year he's purchased protection: ski-pass insurance. For 6 percent of the price of a season pass, Skier Insurance Services of Kalispell, Mont., will refund your money if you accidentally kiss a tree; the company pays up to $15,000 in evacuation costs and $10,000 in death and dismemberment benefits. In its first month, SIS has signed up 75 people. But as their numbers grow, will an avalanche of complaints follow? Though ski lodges advertise season passes as nonrefundable, many have an unwritten rule that refunds money to anyone with a season-ending injury. Now a growing number of slopes are making season passes truly nonrefundable and passing the hassle of sorting refund claims to SIS. "In years when there's no snow, it always seemed like there were more refund requests for 'medical' reasons," says Bret Loeb, ticketing manager at Aspen. Most life-insurance plans would cover an incident, and some mountains already cover evacuation costs, but that didn't stop Tessa Coker from an SIS plan: "I'm very prone to injury."