Even though travel and diving go hand in hand, often the best travel insurance will prove very lacking if you have an accident while diving on holiday. By the same measure the best diving insurance will leave you wanting if you suffer an accident while undertaking any other activities during your holidays, apart from Scuba diving. So here are the fine points on dive insurance and what are your best options.
Standard travel insurance was not designed with Scuba divers in mind or, for that matter, any other types of sporting activities. It was primarily designed for people going on holiday to enjoy a typical vacation visiting a beach, staying at a hotel and doing rather little. A typical travel insurance is geared towards compensating you for flight and travel problems, illness while abroad, or basic emergency situations that may occur. It generally has a very limited cover and will exclude some types of holiday activities like scuba diving, skiing, and snowboarding. In general, pure travel insurance can prove rather lacking in cover for divers.
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A dive insurance is primarily focused on dealing with problems that arise from diving activities, is tailored for divers, and will cover various things from the cost of recompression therapy and hospital care needed as a result of a diving accident, to search and rescue operation costs and replacing equipment damaged or lost due to an emergency.
There is a distinct difference between diving insurance for professionals and for amateurs. While many aspects of coverage are similar when it comes to treating a diving emergency, where they differ is when it comes to third party liability. As a professional you are liable for your actions towards students and other divers you hold a position of responsibility for. Professional insurance will cover up to a limit the legal fees you may incur defending a lawsuit, as well as some compensation claims if you lose your case. Having liability insurance is always a good idea for diving professionals, and is actually mandatory to maintain your status with most training agencies.
There are three factors to consider when choosing a diving insurance: firstly, the limits on recompression coverage and how large it is; secondly, restrictions on the depth/type or even equipment used when diving; and finally, any limits on the time you can be away from home and remain covered by your insurance.
Recompression is expensive; depending on where you are in the world the costs can run from several hundred dollars per hour of therapy, to several thousand per hour of treatment. When you consider the absolute bare minimum recompression treatment is 2 hours in a chamber, and that on average a case of DCS (Decompression Sickness) will require several “rides” in a chamber each lasting several hours, you can easily see how the costs can mount up quickly. When it comes to choosing a dive insurance, make sure to read the fine print and that the cover for recompression therapy is unlimited or very large (to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars), otherwise you could run out of cover very quickly indeed.
A large number of diving insurance policies will have restrictions on cover, depending on the type of diving activity you are undertaking. Many policies will only cover you to your recommended training depth, so if you are an Open water diver and have an accident after a 20 m/65 ft dive, you may easily find yourself out of cover. Moreover, some policies will actually have a ban on some diving activities like technical or cave diving, or even impose a maximum depth limit on your coverage. Very commonly, policies will not cover you after a depth of 40 m/130 ft.
Quite a few insurance policies have trip or time coverage restrictions away from your country of residence. For instance, a quite common policy will cover you all year but only for trips of 90 day or less. If you embark on a long round the world trip, you will find that you have no coverage after 90 days since you have gone over the trip limit. Effectively what this policy means is that you have to return home every 90 days and start another trip.
Other policies have a different type of time restrictions. They will only cover you for a set number of days per year. So, if you were to have an accident early on in the year during one trip, that was sufficiently long to use up most or all of your year’s coverage, and then you had another accident later in the year, you may find you are out of cover, since you have been out of your home country that year for more days than you are covered for.
Choosing the right dive and travel insurance for you can be a little tricky but is a relatively straightforward process depending on how often you travel and dive and the level of cover you need. Before buying insurance first determine how often you travel and dive and your desired level of cover. And then match your requirements to the various travel and diving insurance policies available to you.