The Insured Diver

Here’s what to look for when purchasing insurance.

Depending on your country’s insurance laws, you may find that you need at least some form of additional insurance coverage for diving mishaps. But what should you look for when comparing insurance options? It’s time to get acquainted with the fine print in your insurance terms.

Accident insurance

Accidents happen, and when they do, insurance often comes into play. Make sure that your existing health insurance covers accidents related to diving, ideally for both the cost of any search and rescue initiatives and any medical bills you may incur. Some insurance companies don’t cover any form of diving, or only cover some forms of diving. Some require you to document that you’re a healthy and able diver, perhaps by supplying them with a medical exam. Many insurance companies cover scuba diving, but not technical diving or rebreather diving, so make note of this as well if you plan on engaging in those activities. Also check to see if your accident insurance covers hyperbaric treatment if needed. And if you’re traveling to dive, you’ll need to make sure that you’re covered for accidents abroad, either through your health insurance or travel insurance.

Travel insurance

This brings us to travel insurance, which often covers expenses such as repatriation costs, legal help abroad and a number of other things. Make sure this coverage is also valid if the insurance claim is caused by diving activities. Search and rescue efforts and hyperbaric treatment are particularly critical, as these can run in the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars. Make sure the insurance doesn’t just cover the hyperbaric treatment itself, but also any cost incurred by extending your stay while the treatment is going on. Hyperbaric treatment can take several days, and you’ll want to make sure your room and board are covered, as well any rescheduled flights. Double-check your luggage insurance as well, as a duffel bag full of dive gear can easily exceed insurance coverage if your luggage is lost.

Rescue coverage

While perhaps less of a priority, rescue coverage will cover loss and sometimes damage to your equipment if this happens in the course a rescue effort. As anyone who has taken a Rescue Diver course knows, you may need to dump weights, fins, and perhaps even the entire scuba unit while bringing an injured diver ashore. If you’re unable to recover your gear, insurance with rescue coverage will cover the cost.

Liability

Depending the local legislation where you dive, you may need some coverage for liability as well. While usually only relevant for instructors and guides, some countries’ legislation does allow divers to sue their buddies in case of accidents.

Travel health and evacuation

Scuba divers, like many other adventurous travelers, tend to go off the beaten track a bit, and your dive plans may include countries with less-than-stable governments or health risks you wouldn’t find find in more developed travel destinations. Because of this, make sure that your travel insurance covers any specific travel health needs, and assistance or evacuation if needed. If your travel insurance doesn’t cover this, you may want to purchase extra insurance coverage, just in case.

Finding good insurance

It is possible that your own health, safety and travel insurance(s) cover you adequately. If not, there are a number of insurance companies that cater specifically to adventurous travelers, and many of these also cover scuba diving. The most obvious choice for divers is Divers Alert Network (DAN) insurance, which offers specific scuba-diver insurance packages. By reading the fine print and comparing these packages to your needs, based on the type of diving you do and your destination, your insurance will give you exactly what it’s supposed to: peace of mind.