As a rule, recreational divers are meticulous when it comes to planning a dive holiday: they’ll spend hours assessing the pros and cons of alternative live-aboards, dive resorts or operators. They’ll corral all the latest gear and gismos, from custom-made wetsuits to computers to cameras. It’s a sizeable investment of time and money, so it’s perhaps surprising that the majority of divers leave home without adequate travel insurance.
Travel insurance specialists, World Nomads recently commissioned research into the travel habits of divers, canvassing representatives of dive shops, tour operators, accreditation bodies and the dive media. According to Ian Jackson, Head of Research for World Nomads, “What really surprised us was the uniform consensus that the majority of divers were under-insured on their dive trips – particularly for equipment and emergency evacuation”.
Typically, if they take out insurance at all, divers will opt for either a policy with an emergency evacuation provider or rely on ‘regular’ travel insurance.
“The trouble with this,” says Jackson, “is that neither option covers everything. Many travel insurance policies don’t provide for remote area evacuation or for hyperbaric chambers. Nor do they fully cover divers’ extensive and expensive equipment. On the other hand, emergency evacuation providers do a great job of getting you out of a dire situation, but don’t provide cover for additional medical expenses or for lost or stolen gear”.
Jackson cites the example of a man who suffered internal organ failure that was directly attributable to the diving he’d been doing. His evacuation insurance got him to hospital, but didn’t cover the cost of the additional necessary medical treatment or his repatriation home. “The bill came to $200,000”, he says.
Some of the best dive sites are in the remotest corners of the world and just getting there can be an adventure – one that can wreak havoc on delicate camera equipment and other bulky dive gear. And once you’re there, even if you don’t admit it aloud, there’s that dark recess of your brain that frets about sharks, stingers, rogue currents, sinking boats, the bends, and all manner of underwater hazards.
It won’t make all the scary stuff go away (and what fun would there be in that, anyway?), but knowing you have enough insurance to get you out of trouble can give you the peace of mind to get on with enjoying your scuba diving trip.