The costs of winter sports accidents involving skiers and snowboarders have increased by 70% over the past 15 years, according to the Swiss Accident Insurance Fund (SUVA).
Switzerland’s largest accident insurer found that costs had risen from CHF224 million ($228 million) to CHF379 million, or 3.6% per year, over this period.
Together, skiing and snowboarding accidents account for three-quarters of costs. Annually, 27,000 ski accidents cost CHF250 million, compared to CHF36 million francs for around 6,500 snowboard accidents.
Several factors are behind the high medical costs: faster high-performance carving skis, high-speed groomed slopes, and artificial snow, which can be harder and less resistant than natural snow.
Age also plays a role, SUVA spokesman Jean-Luc Alt pointed out: “Today, we see that ski accidents mainly affect people aged 40-59, who are less in shape.”
Older people may have to spend longer periods away from the office to recover after an accident, which increases the final bill, he added.
As skiing and equipment has evolved, the type of accident has also changed, explained Cédric Pérez, a surgeon from canton Valais.
“Single fractures have become multiple fractures, such as to the tibial plateau, which have become much more common. These require much bigger, more complex interventions.
And the recovery time can also be longer - up to six months - before someone can fully resume their professional activity,” he said.