Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass offering credits and free pass insurance coverage for next season
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While snow was still falling, most lifts stopped turning for the year at ski resorts across the U.S. because of coronavirus concerns on March 15, 2020. That date was roughly a month earlier than the normal closing date — or several months earlier, depending on the location. It also came as many areas of the country were gearing up for spring-break skiing. This meant that many skiers and riders who had purchased ski passes for the year didn’t get to put them to full use. Refunds aren’t really in the vocabulary of the ski pass programs … unless “non-immediately” precedes the word “refundable.” Snow-loving families could easily have hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars tied up in ski passes they didn’t really use.
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In the past few weeks, the Ikon and Mountain Collective ski-pass programs have released plans for discounts on next season’s passes for this season’s passholders. The Ikon Pass is also offering those who purchase a 2020 – 2021 Ikon pass to have that purchase, instead, count toward a 2021 – 2022 ski pass, if the passholder decides by early December not to ski next season.
But during the 42 days since the abrupt end to the 2020 ski season, the biggest ski-pass program, Epic, has been very quiet.
That all changed today when Epic announced that its 2019 – 2020 season passholders will receive credits of 20% to 80% toward next season’s passes, based on how much they used this season’s pass. On May 13, 2020, those who didn’t use this season’s pass at all will receive a credit of 80% toward a pass of equal or greater value. Those who used it for fewer than five days will receive a pro-rated credit based on how many days it was used. Those who got in five or more days on the slopes will receive a flat 20% discount on next year’s Epic Pass purchases.
Related: Which annual ski pass is best?
Those who had the Epic Day passes, will receive a credit toward next year based on the number of days used. Epic will send out personalized emails with the credit amount and codes to use beginning on May 13.
On top of that, those who buy Epic passes for next season will receive free Epic Coverage, which will provide full or partial cash refunds to passholders under certain scenarios, such as resort closures because of COVID-19, terrorism or war. It will also cover full or partial refunds for personal job loss, local orders preventing travel, pregnancy, personal illness, etc.
Understanding how this refund and coverage works requires a bit of math and strategy, as refunds will be based on your preferred ski week and resort (or you can take the default “core season”), how much you used your pass or purchased days, etc. Additionally, only closures at Vail-owned resorts are covered — not any potential closures at partner resorts, such as Telluride. You have until late November 2020 to select your priority resort and ski week for coverage purposes if you don’t want the default core-resort coverage option. For example, if you care the most about whether Vail is operational March 8 – 12, 2021, you could choose that for coverage. In that case, a closure in December or January wouldn’t affect your specific refund coverage, nor would a closure at a different resort.
Those moves already put Epic in the lead when it comes to how ski-pass programs are reacting to coronavirus. However, Epic is taking it a step further by extending the time frame to get the lowest prices of the season until Labor Day. Typically, the best spring ski-pass deals require a very early commitment and usually dry up right about now for next year, but obviously we are living in times that are anything but typical. Current plans are available at current prices until Sept. 7, 2020. If you decide to make a purchase, here’s a rundown of the best credit cards for ski-pass purchases.
As usual, Epic has a few different tiers of passes on offer, ranging from the full Epic Pass that is $979 for adults; the more restrictive Epic Local Pass that is $729 for adults, and Epic Day Passes for those who plan to ski just one to seven days at Epic resorts in a season. With a minimum 20% credit for current season passholders, those prices drop to $783 and $583, respectively. Those with younger or older skiers in the family can brush up on various kids-ski-free and seniors-ski-free offers before committing to purchasing any child or senior passes.
Although Epic is holding the line with the other ski pass programs that refunds for last ski season are going to be few and far between (even for those who had various types of pass insurance), the program’s offerings for next year are thoughtful and detailed. I’ll continue to hold out on committing to a ski pass for the time being, but come this September, I hope it makes sense to take Epic up on its offer of built-in coverage that includes protection against COVID-19-related closures.
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