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Dreaming of your next dive trip and wondering how to prepare? Read on for tips on how to choose the best scuba diving travel insurance for your journey.
It was supposed to be a fun dive with my friend. Everything was going well and the diving conditions were superb. During our safety stop, we were admiring the reef and my friend accidentally touched a lion fish. The pain was so intense, we needed to bring him to a hospital. Luckily, no serious injury happened to him aside from the initial pain, but he had to pay the hospital bill out of pocket because had no insurance. Moreso, he had no dive insurance. Fortunately, because of where we were, the hospital bill was cheaper than a certification course and he was able to pay.
But what happens when a serious injury occurs? Or, when it happens in a destination where healthcare is not affordable? The hospital bills tally into the thousands and your bank account is draining. Who is paying up?
In this guide, we’ll cover the ins and outs of the different scuba diving insurance options and what they’re likely to cover.
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Scuba diving insurance: What is it?
Insurance companies vary from each other in terms of what they offer, the scope of coverage, initial cost (your premium), and what you’ll pay in the case of an emergency (your deductible). If you’re getting insured “as a scuba diver” from an ordinary insurance company, your premium might be high. These blanket insurance companies might not be tailored for scuba divers when it comes to dive-related emergency services.
A scuba diving insurance protects you financially against the expenses incurred when you have a scuba diving accident. Dive insurance companies understand the risks of scuba divers and will often know more about what plans of action to take when an emergency happens. These companies primarily offer dive accident insurance coverage, medical treatments including the use of a hyperbaric chamber and emergency evacuation even in remote areas. For example, an ear or lung injury might be best seen by a medical professional familiar with scuba dive incidents, as these injuries tend to be specific to scuba divers. A scuba diving insurance company is your best bet at pointing you in the right direction for treatment.
These scuba diving insurance companies might also cover the cost of scuba diving gear if it’s lost, stolen, or damaged.
Recreational scuba diving insurance
Recreational scuba diving insurance usually comes into play when a scuba diver is traveling or diving regularly in their home location. This type of insurance will cover you in the event of an emergency, so long as you are diving within your certification level. For example, if you are an Open Water scuba diver, you likely won’t be covered if you’re diving around 40 meters as your certification level only allows you to dive up to 18 meters.
Recreational divers often opt for scuba diving travel insurance on a trip. This plan also covers the risks of general travel in addition to medical coverage for scuba diving.
Professional scuba diving insurance
Professional scuba diving insurance is offered to dive industry professionals. This may include increased medical coverage, defense costs for instructors and divemasters, and other special nuances that accompany scuba diving as a professional. This type of scuba diving insurance tends to be in effect year-round, or as long as the dive professional is working.
Tips for choosing the right scuba diving travel insurance plan
When shopping around for the best scuba diving insurance, you’ll want to make the most out of your premium by choosing the right plan based on your individual situation. There is rarely a one-size-fits-all approach to insurance. Every scuba diver’s risk tolerance, skill level, dive destination, and budget is different.
Consider the coverage
There are variations between insurance companies. Some insurance companies claim to cover scuba divers. However, when you read the fine print, you’ll see that they don’t include complex emergency services like airlift evacuation or use of a recompression chamber. Also, some policies are not enough to cover expensive treatments or may have a maximum claim limit. Of course, insurance costs rise as the scope of coverage widens.
Some key things to look for include:
Use of hyperbaric chamber
Types of dive covered (if applicable to you): Shark diving, cage diving, freediving, wreck diving
24/7 emergency assistance
Restrictions on certification
While there are limitations set on every certification level, this is also followed by your insurance coverage. For example, many insurance policies cover up to a maximum depth of 30 meters. If your dive profile usually exceeds these limits, make sure to have the right insurance plan. Same goes with other specialties like wreck diving, cave diving, shark diving, night diving and nitrox. If you’re doing these types of specialty dives, then make sure it’s declared in your policy and included in your insurance coverage. Some insurance companies offer two levels of coverage: (1) basic diving for a lower cost and (2) specialty diving with an increased insurance cost. No matter what plan you choose, if you exceed the limits of your current certification level, you will not be covered by your insurance policy in case of emergency.
Restrictions on duration and destination
Do you dive regularly at home? Or, are you someone who only scuba dives on a trip?
If you are a regular year-round diver, you might want to opt for a general scuba diving insurance. If you only scuba dive while on holiday, scuba diving travel insurance might be a better fit.
In general, general scuba diving insurance plans are renewed annually. But while you are insured for a year, there could be restrictions on the duration of a single trip, like insurance policy only covering dive trips lasting for 90 days and below. Likewise, some policies may restrict their coverage as to the number of diving days per year. So be sure to custom fit your policy according to your diving lifestyle.
Scuba diving travel insurance is best for those of us who take dive trips. In this case, it might be more affordable to buy a dive insurance plan solely for the destination and the duration of your trip. Some insurance companies offer regional plans, lowering the costs of your insurance so long as you stick to diving within their set region. Even so, read the fine print carefully.
Chantae, another writer at The Salt Sirens, went on a dive trip to East Timor. She selected the ‘Southeast Asia’ option for scuba diving travel insurance and assumed it included East Timor. Just as she was about to depart, she took a closer look at the fine print and saw that East Timor was excluded from the coverage region. This left her scrambling to find another insurance company.
As every scuba diver finds out the hard way, investing in your own set of scuba gear is not cheap. A dive computer, BCD, and regulator already runs the cost of diving quite high–even on the most budget set-up. If you have your own gear, it’s wise to get a scuba diving insurance that covers the cost of your equipment. This is especially important if you’re diving with camera gear, which is fragile and expensive.
Add-ons and top ups
Scuba diving spans beyond the act of scuba diving itself. On the way to the dive destination, problems or accidents may happen. A common dive insurance bundle is travel insurance. Having this means you are covered even in non-diving related emergencies. Trip cancellation is another bundle you can purchase with your dive insurance, where you can claim for a reimbursement in the event of bad weather or an illness prior to the dive. Oftentimes, insurance with scuba diving included will also include other adventure sports activities like multi-day treks and bungy jumping.
Claim Payment Policy
Claim payment policy is one of the most important parts of scuba diving insurance. There are two ways to claim your scuba diving insurance.
The most common is reimbursement where you need to shell out money from your pocket and submit the receipts afterwards for reimbursement.
Direct payment is when the insurance provider pays for the costs directly.
If you don’t have a large savings account, we recommend choosing an insurance with a direct payment claim policy.
The best scuba diving insurance providers
There are a range of insurance providers that offer scuba diving insurance.
Divers Alert Network
Considered the most famous dive insurance provider, Divers Alert Network (or DAN) has over 30 years of experience in handling and managing dive accidents. Endorsed by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), DAN has an extensive list of diving medical resources and 24/7 access to medical professionals experienced with common diving-related injuries.
You can choose from DAN’s three different plans that can be bundled up with insurance on equipment and general travel insurance. While there are no mileage restrictions on any of the plans, the premium plans are distinct and sought after as they offer unlimited medical expenses and hyperbaric treatment.
If you are a frequent traveler that wants to go scuba diving in different destinations, World Nomads is a worthwhile consideration. While they are classified as general travel insurance company, World Nomads provides coverage for riskier activities like scuba diving under their high-tier plans.
World Nomads has a variety of insurance plans and the insurance policy is custom fitted on what you plan to do. On top of this, they have an extended coverage that includes gear insurance and all kinds of diving emergencies.
If you’re looking for a dive insurance company that has a direct payment claim feature, then consider having an insurance with Dive Assure. They are recognized as one of the experts in dive emergencies and hyperbaric treatment.
Dive Assure offers insurance packages for every diver with no gas or depth restrictions. Their bestseller is their premium insurance package where you can enjoy higher financial limits, emergency travel expenses and gear insurance. Nonetheless, all their insurance holders have 24/7 access to dive physicians.
We hope you never need to use scuba diving insurance. However, we will never know when an accident will happen. If in the event you do need medical treatment, it’s better to be prepared through the coverage your insurance policy provides.
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