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How much does ski rescue cost in the French Alps

Posted by Ski Property Shop on April 6, 2022

The mountain is a risky environment, whether you are a beginner or an expert, whether you are on or off the slopes. An accident can happen quickly and in all of the 300 French resorts, the trackers-rescuers carry out around 40,000 interventions a year.

Of course, they are not the only ones to help in the mountains. At the same time, when the word help is used, one often wonders what costs they can generate if something bad happens. Investigation.

Who provides mountain rescue?
In the demanding and difficult environment that is the mountain , three services intervene in the name of relief : – the police with the sections and mountain detachments of the republican security companies (CRS), – the gendarmerie, with its gendarmerie platoons of mountain (PGM) and high mountain (PGHM), – firefighters from the SDIS, with the mountain groups of firefighters (GMSP).

Unlike rescue in the ski area, entrusted to the municipalities, mountain rescue falls under the organization of rescue by the State in areas of intervention where it compensates for the de facto inability of the municipalities to act..

The aid thus committed by the State is by definition free of charge, no financial compensation is requested from the municipalities or from the people rescued. Their volume is ten times less than that of the emergency services on the ski area, but falls within a much higher risk zone, unlike the ski area which appears to be very secure.

How much is charged for rescue on the ski slopes?
On the ski area, free access is a distant memory and it is better to check your insurance policy or simply take out daily insurance when buying your ski lift pass.

Municipalities, which are responsible for organizing relief on their territory, most often call on private companies. They must then bear the cost and they are the ones who have the freedom to set the price of the intervention, because the law of February 27, 2002 abolished the fixed scale common to all the massifs.

If the rescuers are required to intervene and no insurance has been taken out, the costs will be borne by the injured party . We are then talking about 300 to 500 euros on average for an intervention at the national rate.

rescue french alps helicopter

Average rates for rescue in maintained and marked ski areas
► About 50 euros for rescue to intervene mainly on the toboggan runs and on the bottom of the track or at the foot of a ski lift and involving minor care.

► About 150 to 200 euros for rescue operations in the near runway area.

► Around 340 euros for rescue operations in remote runway areas, generally more than 1 km from the rescue station.

How much are the rescue costs outside the marked ski slopes?
If your off-piste ski outing, unfortunately, ends in an accident or injury requiring rescue, be aware that it will cost you around 630 to 700 euros for off-piste rescue located in areas accessible by gravity by ski lift.

If the rescue must intervene in an area located in a remote sector not accessible by gravity by ski lift and according to certain specificities, the invoicing is generally done based on the following hourly costs:

► Lifeguard cost/hour during the day: around 45 euros

► Cost/hour of lifeguard on night shift: around 75 euros

► Cost/hour grooming snowcat: approximately 195 euros

► Cost/hour of the ski lift with the personnel necessary for its operation: approximately 342 euros

► Cost/hour scooter, quad or any other vehicle: around 25 euros

► Cost/flight minute of a helicopter + crew chartered to a private company: around 30 euros

What about mountain rescue?
Outside the ski areas and as seen above, free is the principle, except for the intervention of the doctor. This is partly covered by social security, but without mutual insurance, the remaining part can be very high. We are talking about a price of up to 1,500 euros per hour. The 20% remaining payable by the patient can therefore represent a substantial sum.

Don’t forget to insure yourself in the mountains against accidents in the ski area
It is strongly recommended to have insurance when you go to the mountains and in case of an accident in the ski area.

Insurance via your credit card
Some insurance is included in your generally top-of-the-range bank card or in the ski lift pass (it is often to be requested at an additional cost).

To benefit from the insurance of your credit card, you must use this card when renting skis or paying for the ski pass. Some take care of your repatriation, in the event of an accident abroad: which can be practical!

Multi-risk home insurance
In addition, if you have multi-risk home insurance, it is certain that you have civil liability cover, which covers you in the event that you cause an accident. The damages you will have caused are covered by your insurer but not necessarily those you will have suffered.

It is therefore important to take a good look at what is indicated in your contract. In addition, this insurance includes the holiday guarantee , which insures the rental of your accommodation during your holidays.

Individual accident insurance or personal accident cover
If you have this type of insurance, you are probably already covered for damages suffered during a skiing accident. Check whether the practice of this activity is not excluded from the risks covered in your contract.
Mutual health insurance
If you have this type of insurance, it is likely that hospitalization costs and care if you have an accident are covered. Here too, you have to look at what is written in your contract.

If you are not covered
We recommend that you take out snow insurance with your insurer. It will allow you to be reimbursed for medical expenses in the event of an accident, also to cover your ski pass, an unused lesson, equipment rental, compensation for damage caused to another skier as well as assistance costs and/or or repatriation.

The price of this insurance is calculated per person per week, you can also take it for a single day.

Ski insurance in the event of an off-piste mountain accident
You love off-piste and you are used to this practice: it is therefore essential that you take out specialized insurance (alpine club, sports insurance). If you have a Gold or Premium credit card, you may already be covered off-piste. On the other hand, it is important to check the conditions of your contract because in certain situations, you are only covered if you are accompanied by an instructor.

If you do not have this type of bank card, it is therefore important to take out specific insurance. Most contracts do not cover off-road accidents.

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