Are You Diving Naked?
Are You Covered?
Several recent incidents got us thinking about dive accident insurance. The first occurred last August when a UK diver’s insurance carrier declined payment of nearly $70,000 for DCS treatment because he had exceed his policy’s depth limit. He was only able to leave Egypt after paying much of the local bill himself. Then early this year ten recompression facilities for several months refused to accept DAN’s “reasonable and customary” payments, instead presenting the stricken diver with bill.
Dive injuries and
related costs can run into staggering numbers. Last April a 10-year-old
Discover Scuba student was bitten on the arm by a moray eel while diving
Grand Cayman’s Sand Bar. The tab for medical attention, a private
Leer jet back to the States and physical therapy approached $100,000.
The family, despite having a dive insurance policy, had to put the money
Also, the fine print is where you’ll find that all dive accident policies require care to be prescribed by a medical professional, documented in an itemized bill, reported to the insurer in a timely manner and other important details. You’ll need to follow your policy rules to ensure coverage, no matter how basic the hospital.
Finally, all comprehensive scuba accident policies provide trip cancellation and interruption benefits if a medical condition precludes scuba. But, you’ll need travel insurance if you want broader coverage against airline cancellation, travel agency problems, and natural disasters.
The six biggest providers are: DAN, PADI, NAUI, DiveSafe, DiveAssure and Diver's Security Insurance (DSI). Each of these policies are secondary, except for DiveAssure which is primary. So, when you consider the limits of your insurance, add together both the benefits of your primary policy and your seconday policy. It may be that a dive policy with a lower limit suits you just fine.
The Preferred Plan adds nondiving medical coverage for accidents occurring outside the home country and trip cancellation/interruption coverage when an insured’s ability to dive becomes limited due to sickness or injury.
To control costs, DAN refers DCI cases requiring hyperbaric treatment to a member of its Diving Preferred Provider Network, as long as it doesn’t put the diver at risk..
PADI offers a range of dive-related insurance to PADI certified divers through Vicencia & Buckley Insurance Services. PADI diver protection plans include Silver ($54/yr), Gold ($75/yr) & Platinum ($99/yr), all covering DCI and other dive injury medical expenses. The plans provide $50,000, $100,000 and $275,000 of dive accident coverage, respectively.
PADI plans incorporate
dive-related death and disability benefits, and provide optional non-diving
accidental death and dismemberment coverage. All dive accident medical
coverage is per incident, rather than the more restrictive lifetime maximum
basis offered by some other insurers. However, how many incidents does
a diver have?
The Gold and Platinum plans provide medical and travel benefits for accident-related emergencies of any nature and dive trip cancellation and interruption benefits to divers and their immediate family. These may already be covered in your primary policy and trip insurance.
NAUI makes its three policies available to everyone: Standard Diver Plan ($30/yr); Deluxe Dive and Travel Individual Plan ($60/yr); and Deluxe Dive and Travel Family Plan ($90/yr). After a $250 deductible, these policies provide medical dive accident coverage of up to $50,000, $300,000 and $500,000, respectively.
The two top tier plans also provide medical benefits for non-diving accidents up to $10,000. After a deductible of $250, they also cover up to $10,000/$5,000 in diving vacation cancellation/interruption expenses.
A newer player, DiveSafe, Inc., administered by Willis Recreational Dive Programs, offers coverage to certified members of SDI, TDI, ERDI, IANTD, YMCA, NASE, WASI, ACUC, SSI and PDIC. The considerable appeal of DiveSafe is simplicity. It sells only a single policy ($60/year) with no depth limit or exclusions for tech diving, deductibles, options or pre-approvals. The maximum lifetime limit is $100,000 for dive accidents, enough to cover most dive accidents
The plan has competitive
diving vacation cancellation or interruption coverage, but reimburses
only for a covered diving condition. If you sustain a non-diving accident,
injury or illness, you’re on your own.
The newest insurer,
DiveAssure offers Gold ($75/yr), Platinum ($115/yr) and Diamond (starting
a $155/yr) plans. The plans are open to all certified divers and dive
students. None have depth or mixed gas restrictions.
Which Is Best?
If a plan fails to cover dive injuries other than DCI, or has depth restrictions, it isn’t suitable. If you don’t have primary insurance, maximum medical limits of $50,000 or less are inadequate. Beyond this, the policies serve different needs and not all are suitable for everyone.
For example, IF you only dive locally, you don’t need trip interruption coverage offered by most top plans and a can look to more basic plans. However, if you fly off to distant, venues and want generous benefits, consider DiveAssure Gold & Platinum and DSI v upgraded DiveAssure Diamond) .
If you dive frequently you may prefer coverage per occurrence rather than a restrictive lifetime maximum basis. Look at PADI, DiveAssure and NAUI v DAN Standard & Master and DiveSafe.
If you use Nitrox or other gas mixtures, you will want a policy without gas restrictions. Other than DSI, all policies cover you
If you want to traditional travel insurance benefits in your dive policy, consider the upgraded DiveAssure Diamond plan.
If you have a medical
condition that could result in trip cancellation, you may desire DAN Preferred,
one of the NAUI Deluxe Dive and Travel Individual Plans, and upgraded
DiveAssure Diamond v DiveSafe).
Don't get caught
Doc Vikingo 2006