A grudge purchase or the best investment I have ever made?

After finishing my A-Levels in the summer of 2003, a few of my close school friends and I decided we would spend a season skiing in the French Alps. Having saved and saved, with my bag packed and my skis waxed and sharpened, I was ready to go.

The day before my flight, my mum asked me if I had sorted out my insurance. I hadn't really considered it so told her that I would do it when I was out there. To which she responded, "Tom, I really think you should sort it out now, you never know." "Yeah, but what are the chances of me having to make a claim plus it'll cost me a load of money that I don't want to spend," I replied.

She persisted until I turned on my laptop to search the internet for a quote. A google search churned up some prices, some low and some high. I soon realised I didn't really understand why some quotes were more expensive than others, so I picked up the phone. After a few phone calls, I was put through to a very helpful agent who went through the different options and educated me about the covers. He inquired as to whether I needed cover for going off-piste. I thought that as I was out there for a whole season, it was probably wise, so I asked what it would cost. It was an extra £20 I but decided to include it. I opted for the 'silver package' and begrudgingly paid the £100 for the policy, thinking how £100 was a lot of money to have spent considering that my chances of needing to make a claim were slim. However, I printed off the document; stuffed it into my ski jacket and off I went.

On day seven into a four-month season, there was an almighty snow blizzard. The morning after, we got up nice and early to enjoy the fresh powder. We got to the top of the mountain and decided to take the black run down. One of my friends was a very experienced skier and pointed at a ledge we could jump off.

"Come on, let's do that jump!" he said. It looked pretty high, but there was so much snow. I thought if I fell it wouldn't hurt anyway. When I landed, I hit a rock that was covered in snow. I felt this almighty crack, and whilst at the time I felt no pain as soon as I lifted my leg, I realised it was in two pieces. An excruciating amount of pain then kicked in, and after a loud cry for help, my friends soon arrived at the scene. Around twenty minutes later, a paramedic arrived. I was in agony but managed to get the words out "am I on or off-piste?"

He didn't reply, put me in the wagon and off I went to the nearest first aid centre. On arrival, a doctor came along, "Monsieur, do you have insurance?" with an almighty sigh of relief, I replied, "Oui!". He checked through the document, nodded his head and led me into the operating room. An hour later, my leg was put in a cast, medication and crutches were given to me, and a two-hour ambulance took me back to my apartment. The next day an ambulance then drove me to Geneva airport where three seats on an aeroplane were booked for me to return to the UK. I spent the following week in the hospital where I had my legged pinned in three separate places.

I still cringe at how much out of pocket I would have been had I not taken out that policy. It would have cost thousands of pounds and could well have financially crippled my parents. I certainly wouldn't have been able to afford to pay for all the treatments, ambulances and blood wagons.

We all take risks in our personal and business lives, and that day I took what I thought was a calculated risk. Unfortunately, it went wrong but on reflection had my mother not insisted on me taking out the insurance and I had not chosen to listen to the agent who arranged the cover for me it could have been a lot worse. My advice, don’t leave it to chance, it doesn’t always work in your favour, in your personal or business life.

Was that the best £100 I've ever spent?

Definitely! Written by Tom Simcox - MD of Simcox Brokers Ltd.

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