The approaching winter sports season is proving the launchpad for two new travel insurance policies.

Preferential Direct and Longford Insurance have both issued reminders that annual travel plans can work out cheaper than single-trip policies.

Preferential's gold annual multi-trip cover includes the attraction of 17 days' free winter sports cover.

This includes Avalanche cover which pays up to £300 if the insured's European ski resort is closed due to a snow deluge.

Prices for the cover begin at £45 per person or £60 per couple.

Other features of Preferential's gold annual multi-trip cover are: piste closure insurance, available if skiing becomes impossible because of a lack of snow, and winter sports equipment cover up to £250 for lost, stolen or damaged goods.

Personal accident worth £25,000 is available if a skiing injury causes permanent disability and there is £5 million worth of medical cover for hospital-related expenses.

Large savings are also possible under Longford Insurance Schemes' annual Travelplan cover.

They claim a family of five who take three holidays a year, including a skiing excursion, can save more than £400 with their annual travel plan.

John Bull, director of Longford Insurance, said: "Switched on skiers planning a second or third holiday of the year know it makes sense to buy an annual travel insurance policy. And in the run-up to Christmas, saving money with annual cover can only be a good thing."

Travelplan offers annual Europe-wide cover and 17 days' free winter sports cover, at a cost of £157 for a family of five.

Benefits include: lost ski pass cover up to £500; off piste and snowboarding insurance; £25,000 of personal accident cover and delayed baggage cover.

Agents are eligible for 20% commission on all Travelplan policies.