Switzerland recently experienced dramatic, life-threatening weather, when floodwaters swept through the south-eastern Lostallo in the Alpine valley of Misox in Graubünden. Although tragic, natural disasters caused by extreme weather are not an uncommon occurrence in alpine regions.

According to the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC), 114 people died in mountain accidents in the Swiss Alp s last year. From these nearly 2/3 were foreigners. Some of these deaths were related in part to extreme or changing weather conditions. And these statistics do not included those that occurred through extreme sports such as paragliding.

  • Men are largely over-represented in this fatality number, with 82 deaths (compared to 32 for women).
  • The 21–40-year-old category is also the most common age group for these accidents.
  • Hiking is at the top of the accidents resulting in death (51 deaths), followed by mountaineering (29), ski touring (11) and skiing off-piste (7).
  • The SAC explains the drop in the number of deaths in these last two sports by less frequentation of the mountains during the winter of 2022-2023 due to the lack of snow.

Insurance Cover

Basic insurance cover is often not enough to cover all costs in the event of an accident, and those going out into the nature should check with your insurance provider to see if you have supplemental insurance cover for sport activities including hiking. Some key points to note with regards to accident insurance:

Accident insurance: obligatory for all Swiss residents

  • For most of us, accident insurance is managed by our employer. For those without an employer, it is usually added to your health insurance as an extra product and costs a few francs extra per year.
  • It is obligatory for every employer in Switzerland to provide accident insurance for their employees based in Switzerland – unlessthe time worked is less than 8 hours per week.
  • The key differences between accident – sickness – and health insurances cover are:
    • Accident insurance covers medical costs because of an accident.
    • If you are an employee, the insurance also covers 80% of your salary, in the case of absenteeism from work because of the accident.
  • Sickness insurance covers potential loss of salary because of absence through illness.
  • Health insurance covers medical costs linked to the treatment of an illness.

Accident Insurance:  Claims process

Basic mandatory Swiss accident insurance covers private accidents worldwide. That said, it may not cover gross negligence or highly dangerous activities (such as flying with a wingsuit!) but does cover most mountain sports, on and off piste skiing. For all risks, extra insurance is purchasable from most Swiss insurers.

If you suffer an accident, you must inform your employer as soon as possible, even if the accident does not cause any loss of work time. The employer then has to file a report to their accident insurer. You require this report to be handed over to the medical professionals treating you. This also enables any resulting costs from medical institutes to be forwarded to your insurer.

The report contains references that all parties require to attach documentation associated to the accident such as invoices and medical reports. If further treatment is required by another practitioner, they will require the same report to add the costs of their services to it.

If for some reason the employee receives an invoice for accident treatment, they should be able to forward this to the insurer with their accident reference number from the report directly to the insurer or through their employer.

  • In the event of the employee being unable to work as a result of an accident they receive 80% of their salary from the third day of absence.
  • For the first two the employer pays 100%.
  • From the third day, an employer may choose to top up the extra 20% if they so wish.
  • As in the case of sickness, a medical note is required determining the percentage of absenteeism and for what period of time.

The cost of accident insurance varies from provider to provider and once set up may vary each year depending on the provider and the history of accidents in your industry. The employer always pays the professional accident insurance and the employee usually pays the non-professional insurance from their salary.

Professional accident insurance is engaged because of an accident at work or going to and from work. Non-professional accident insurance is used because of an accident that happens during private, non-work time.

The employer’s costs for accident insurance may vary considerably depending on how risky the work is. The chances of an accident sitting behind a laptop filling in data and writing blogs is much lower than for a fireperson or a football player!

  • Standard insurance does not cover a private ward stay. This has to be added on top by the employer or the individual.
  • It also does not cover medivac/rescue in all cases. For this it is advisable to subscribe to the popular and top quality Swiss REGA services  emergency number 1414. REGA emergency-number

Not all mountain areas are covered by cellphone. If you are going out into the wild, its advisable to have a modern iphone 14 or later setup to transmit satellite emergency calls, or a satellite system like Garmin Inreach.

Precautions

If you are going out into the nature for a hike or bike or any other kind of sport, remember to first check your insurance plan to ensure that you are properly ensured. The golden rule is “never assume”. Always check with your insurance company first. They will be be willing to inform you about the insurance and the rules!

Danger and Numbers to call

Alarm signals

If there is an imminent danger to the population of Switzerland, a siren is sounded. There are two types of alarm signals:

  • The general alarm is sounded if there is a danger to the population. Sirens are sounded with a regularly ascending and descending tone, lasting one minute and repeated once in the following five minutes
  • The water alarm is used solely for alerting people living downhill from dams. The signal consists of twelve low tones lasting twenty seconds at ten-second intervals

The annual siren test takes place on the first Wednesday in February. You can find more information on alarm signals on the website of the Federal Office for Civil Protection (FOCP).

The free Alertswiss App informs you about natural disasters such as floods or forest fires and alerts you on to dangers such as chemical or nuclear power station accidents and potential terrorist attacks.

 

Emergency Numbers

Police

117

Fire service

118

‹Helping Hand› counselling helpline

143 (CHF 0.20 per call)

Ambulance

144

Toxicological information centre (in case of suspected poisoning)

145

Pro Juventute helpline for children and young people

147

SBB Transport Police

0800 117 117

Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) Helpline (consular services)

From Switzerland:
0800 247 365
From abroad:
+41 800 247 365 or
+41 58 465 33 33

Fig1: Swiss Emergency numbers
Source: ch.ch

 

In Summary

Accident Insurance is obligatory in Switzerland and is the responsibility of the employer. For those who are unemployed, it should be added to the basic insurance at an additional cost. Always check with your accident insurance provider that you are covered for the types of activities you are involved in – especially in your leisure time. Never assume! When in doubt, always call your insurance provider and ask.

 

Swissroll GmbH was founded over 20 years ago. During this time our team of experts has worked with hundreds of companies and literally thousands of contractors. Also cross border workers. Beyond our core function of payroll management, we offer advice to workers about which engagement model best suits theirs, and the client’s needs. This includes giving advice in French, German and English and on social security, tax as well as working remotely and what to do in the when looking for accommodation. We also advise on accident insurance! Call or contact us now on: enquiries@swissroll.ch