Skico: Refund policy not dead
Aspen Times Staff Writer
The Aspen Skiing Co. said yesterday that the pass insurance program being offered for the first time this year is meant to supplement, not replace, its longstanding policy of offering refunds on a case-by-case basis.
David Perry, Skico’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, said the insurance provides certainty for pass holders.
“We felt we were adding the insurance option as a benefit,” he said. “It provides a clear picture and additional security of what the pass refund is.”
Perry was responding to an article in Tuesday’s Aspen Times that reported the Skico was replacing its longtime refund policy with an insurance option that requires customers to pay a premium.
As the average age of the Skico’s customers increases, they become more concerned about injuries and the possibility of losing their investment in a season pass, Perry said. The insurance program gives customers added assurance that their investment won’t be lost if circumstance turns against them.
“My thinking was that we had a somewhat arbitrary policy that was difficult for people to bank on,” he said.
Perry stressed the company will continue to consider pro-rated refunds for pass holders who are unable to finish out the season for medical reasons. As in past years, the decision will be made on a case-by-case basis.
Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle was quoted in Tuesday’s edition as saying skiers who think they might get hurt needed to pay for insurance. Perry said he and other managers were on a retreat earlier this week and Hanle didn’t have all the information he needed to respond to questions about the issue.
The addition of an insurance option brings Aspen into line with other resorts around the world. Pass insurance is nearly universal in Canada and commonplace in Europe and Japan, Perry said.
To insure their passes, Skico customers pay a premium of 6 percent on the purchase price – $61.74 on a $1,029 early bird premier pass. Insured skiers who miss more than 30 consecutive days on the hill due to injury or illness are eligible for a refund that reflects the lost time. If, for instance, they miss half the season with a broken leg, they’ll receive $514 from the insurance company.
The Skico receives 10 percent of the premiums collected by Skier Insurance Services, the Kallispell, Mont.-based company that’s administering the insurance program. This is the first year that pass insurance has been offered in the United States, according to Skier Insurance Services owner Ron Iverson. As of Tuesday, Aspen and three other areas had signed up.
Perry pointed out that the Skico has never promised refunds on passes or any other tickets. “Ski passes have always been nonrefundable – in all prior years, including last year,” he said. But the company was always flexible about the policy, offering refunds in deserving cases.
“We will continue to be understanding and supportive of our guests, and provide refunds in appropriate situations,” Perry said.
Perry wasn’t sure what the company would do with its share of the insurance premiums, which are impossible to estimate because this is the program’s first year. But he suggested the money might help cover the cost of refunds that will likely be given out later this season to unlucky, uninsured skiers.
Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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