Fun on the piste? Certainly!

Fun on the piste? Certainly!

Thanks to good protective equipment and clothing, skiing and snowboarding accidents are now less common than they used to be. Nevertheless, there are a few things that skiers and snowboarders should be aware of so as to ensure that snow sports remain fun. We'll tell you what you need to know.

Lost your skis or snowboard? Run into someone from behind? Although snow sports are now considered to be relatively safe, it is always possible for something to happen. But who pays in such a scenario? Read on to find out how you can play it safe.

In essence, similar principles apply for snow and road traffic. If you pay attention, behave considerately and only hit the slopes when you are physically and mentally fit to do so, you will be able to claim benefits in the event of a loss. By contrast, if you are drunk or have an accident off-piste, you can expect benefit reductions. Anyone who is skiing or snowboarding should be aware of the following seven facts:

1. Accidents during snow sports – who pays?

Accidents during your free time are covered either by your employer's accident insurance or by the accident coverage included in mandatory health insurance. Mandatory health insurance pays for people who are not in gainful employment and for those who work for the same company for less than eight hours per week. Accident protection must be included via the mandatory health insurance. People who work for more than eight hours per week for one employer in Switzerland are automatically covered for non-occupational accidents.

2. Accidents off-piste – a tricky subject

The situation is rather more complicated in the event of skiing or snowboarding accidents off-piste. However, similar principles apply as in road traffic: Should a car driver seriously flout traffic regulations and, for instance, ignore a red light, they will get a benefit reduction due to gross negligence. The same is true for snow sports: If you completely fail to observe the basic rules and race down the piste in daredevil fashion, you not only risk your life and the lives of others, but also benefit reductions. In extreme cases, the accident insurer may refuse to make any payments at all. Incidentally, most deaths occur off-piste – often due to avalanches, which are triggered by the individual in question in nine out of ten cases.

3. Rammed by another person

If, through no fault of your own, another person runs into you, mandatory accident insurance will pay your medical expenses. However, the insurer reserves the right of recourse against the individual who caused the accident, who is, if applicable, insured by their personal liability insurance. Incidentally, accidents usually happen on the piste. However, they are usually single-person incidents and rarely involve collisions with others.

4. No helmet

When it comes to wearing a helmet, skiing and snowboarding are similar to cycling. It is not obligatory to wear a helmet for these sports in Switzerland. However, associations stress that helmets can reduce or even prevent head injuries. However, they must be worn correctly. Failure to wear a helmet alone does not give accident insurance the right to reduce benefits – but the same is not true if the skier or snowboarder has entered into additional risk. Risks include speed record attempts, speed flying or venturing off-piste and failing to observe the customary caution. Incidentally, Switzerland has the highest ratio of helmet wearers in Europe. This is evidence that the information campaigns are having an effect.

5. Skiing or snowboarding while drunk

Many snow sports enthusiasts enjoy some mulled wine or a beer with a sausage after a great day on the slopes. Après-ski is now an essential part of the whole experience. But as the word "après" suggests, partying belongs after sport. In terms of insurance benefits, if you cause an accident while drunk, the situation differs from case to case. However, if you are traveling recklessly or too quickly under the influence of alcohol, you can expect to have your benefits reduced.

6. Lost equipment! Who pays?

In the event of theft, your skis or snowboard are insured via the additional cover "Simple theft outside the home" in your contents insurance. The theft of rented equipment is also covered. The additional insurance "Accidental damage to sports equipment" pays for damaged or broken sports equipment – provided it is included in the contents insurance contract. It not only covers damage to your own property but also to rented or borrowed sports equipment. If you do not have such additional insurance, claims of this kind can be reported to your personal liability insurance.

7. Personal responsibility is required

Many snow sports enthusiasts complain about rowdy individuals and fear collisions with other skiers and snowboarders. But the majority of accidents on the slopes are caused by the individual alone; they are the result of travelling too quickly, taking risks or being insufficiently fit.

If you stick to the FIS rules, you will take to the slopes safely and correctly

Rule 1: Respect for others
A skier or snowboarder must behave in such a way that he does not endanger or prejudice others.

Rule 2: Control of speed and skiing or snowboarding

A skier or snowboarder must move in control. He must adapt his speed and manner of skiing or snowboarding to his personal ability and to the prevailing conditions of terrain, snow and weather as well as to the density of traffic.

Rule 3: Choice of route
A skier or snowboarder coming from behind must choose his route in such a way that he does not endanger skiers or snowboarders ahead.

Rule 4: Overtaking
A skier or snowboarder may overtake another skier or snowboarder above or below and to the right or to the left provided that he leaves enough space for the overtaken skier or snowboarder to make any voluntary or involuntary movement.

Rule 5: Entering, starting and moving upwards
A skier or snowboarder entering a marked run, starting again after stopping or moving upwards on the slopes must look up and down the slopes that he can do so without endangering himself or others.

Rule 6: Stopping on the piste
Unless absolutely necessary, a skier or snowboarder must avoid stopping on the piste in narrow places or where visibility is restricted. After a fall in such a place, a skier or snowboarder must move clear of the piste as soon as possible.

Rule 7: Climbing and descending on foot
A skier or snowboarder either climbing or descending on foot must keep to the side of the piste.

Rule 8: Respect for signs and markings
A skier or snowboarder must respect all signs and markings.

Rule 9: Assistance
At accidents, every skier or snowboarder is duty bound to assist.

Rule 10: Identification

Every skier or snowboarder and witness, whether a responsible party or not, must exchange names and addresses following an accident.