Dreaming of a deep blue diving holiday? With more tourists turning to the sport on their tropical holidays, scuba diving is no longer the forte of hardy adventurists. Getting well acquainted with crystal blue waters, rainbow coloured coral, and weird and wonderful sea-life can transform the wimpiest of swimmers into water babies!
But what if a perilous dive sets your heart racing for all the wrong reasons? Should you become seriously ill or injured while diving and need urgent medical assistance, travel insurance will be there to salvage the situation.
Which travel insurers cover scuba diving?
Do you have your PADI? Most insurers will cover scuba diving provided you carry an open water certificate or are under the supervision of a licensed instructor. Some will even require you to have earned your certificate in Australia, so check the fine print before you sign off. With that said, each policy will vary in what they will and won’t allow.
How low can I go?
Insurers like Online Travel Insurance and Virgin Money will only cover diving depths of 10m (although with an added premium Virgin Money allows you to increase the depth to 30m). Prefer a deeper dive? Policies from Budget Direct, Columbus Direct and Insure and Go will cover you for up to a 30m dive. Dependent on your bravery or level of expertise, it may pay for you to compare policies before diving in.
Diving insurers: Cover for serious scuba divers
Got some especially dear gear? Whether you’re heading to the barrier reef or Hawaii you might want to consider specialised scuba insurance which will cover your dive computer, BCD, regulator and more! Underwater warriors who regularly blow their budgets on scuba gear can choose one of the following insurers for their next trip:
DiveAssure: Designed specifically for divers, DiveAssure covers you for any lost diving days due to weather or medical issues. You’ll also be covered for up to 50% of cost as new for diving equipment including tanks, vests, regulators, dive computers and specialised photographic dive equipment. Both annual and single-trip policies are available.
PADI Insurance: Available only to registered diving instructors, PADI Insurance provides professional indemnity insurance for diving professionals and covers the cost of diving accidents.
DAN dive injury insurance: Includes cover for diving depth of up to 50m and will pay up to $300,000 for any scuba diving related injuries. Although lost or stolen diving equipment is not covered, any diving equipment that is worn on the diver's person that is "cut loose" and is lost or damaged as a result of a diving accident is covered. This coverage excludes watches, torn straps or buckles, or photographic equipment.
What's covered by regular travel insurance policies?
If your scuba dive trip takes a downward turn for any of the following reasons, comprehensive travel insurance will keep you afloat;
• Lost or stolen dive gear: Provided it is locked away, your diving gear (a pair of fins, a regulator and gauges) will be covered although every insurer will have a different set limit for each item. (1Cover will cover individual items for up to $750). You must also submit a police report within 24 hours of any damage or theft. Your diving gear would also not be covered while in use (so you wouldn’t be covered if a hungry shark nicked your camera)! Another option would be to insure your diving gear with your home and contents policy. Check to see if this cover would apply while away from home.
• Medical: In the event that you should suffer from a diving injury and require emergency evacuation or medical treatment, travel insurance has got you covered. Check with your insurer that you are covered for hyperbaric treatment in the event that you experience decompression injuries.
• Cancellation: Should illness or an accident on route to the airport cause you to miss a flight or cancel your trip, your policy will cover you.
• Liability: Travel insurance will cover you in the event that you are responsible for another person’s injury. Most comprehensive policies will cover you for up to $2 million in personal liability fees.
• Rental car excess: Need a ride to your diving site? A comprehensive policy will usually cover rental car excess, so you can get from A to B, worry free.
What’s not covered by standard travel insurance?
• Alcohol related claims: Drinking alcohol before a dive can lead to dehydration, impaired decision making and a host of other risks. Travel insurance will also not cover any claims related to alcohol consumption, both in and out of the water.
• Non-recognised diving license: Reckon you’re a self-taught scuba expert? If you’re planning on diving without an instructor you will need a valid diving certificate. Consider yourself warned!
• Diving below your specified depth: Most insurers will specify the maximum dive depths they will cover, regardless of whether you are licensed or not. Any medical aid required for injuries below this depth would not be covered.
• Late term pregnancy: The jury is out on whether scuba diving is advisable during pregnancy. But if you’re nearing the end of your term, it may be too late to buy travel insurance regardless of whether you plan to dive or not. Depending on your insurer, you may not be eligible for cover by week 26.
5 scuba diving safety tips
• Don’t drink and dive: Drinking both before or after a dive can pose dangerous consequences. Alcohol can diminish your reaction time and also cause dehydration, one of the prime causes for decompression illness or ‘the bends’. If you must drink, try to stay below 0.05%.
• Take five after a flight: Diving within 12 hours of a flight is a highly discouraged practice, putting you at risk of the bends and a potential embolism. It’s best to give yourself a full day’s break from diving after you arrive at your destination and before you fly back home.
• Blocked nose, puffy eyes? Don’t dive: Suffering from a cold or flu can prevent you from equalizing properly, leading to pain, accumulation of fluid and bleeding into the ear cavity. When in doubt, take plenty of recovery time before you dive.
• Dental work and diving don’t mix: Trapped air in a filling can cause pain and even physical trauma while diving. Some type of dentistry, particularly temporary crowns or caps, could literally explode inside your mouth and cause excruciating pain and put you at risk of foreign body inhalation.
• Fast ascension could cause tension: A fast ascension could lead to the bends and a potential embolism. Stick to a safe ascension rate of nine metres per minute and use your depth gauge to make sure you’re not ascending faster than this rate.
A scuba diving mishap can easily sink your trip. Before you jet off on the diving holiday of your dreams, think twice before settling on the cheapest policy you find. The wrong policy can cost you far more if it doesn’t fit your needs! Be sure to compare policies, do plenty of research and make sure you have adequate scuba diving travel insurance.
Are you a thrill-seeking tourist? If scuba diving is just one of your many preferred pulse pounding activities find out which other adventure sports are covered by travel insurance!