Life insurance for Scuba Divers

Enjoy your fair share of scuba dives? Getting life insurance is less scary than you think.

Scuba diving is not without its risks, but compared to other more extreme sports it can be a relatively safe pursuit, as long as certain procedures are followed to minimise the dangers. Insurance companies do not automatically place scuba divers in the high-risk category and it is possible to obtain life insurance at an affordable price when you include scuba diving amongst your hobbies or pastimes.

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What types of risks does scuba diving include?

Some of the risks that scuba divers can face include:

  • Barotrauma. Injury to the middle ear by descending too fast before you have time to equalise the pressure.
  • Decompression sickness (the bends). The formation of nitrogen bubbles in the bloodstream as a result of surfacing too rapidly.
  • Nitrogen narcosis. Impairment of judgement and sensory perception from absorbing too much nitrogen.
  • Oxygen toxicity. The body absorbs so much oxygen as a result of diving too deep that it becomes toxic.
  • Pulmonary embolism. Swelling and possible bursting of the lungs as a result of ascending too rapidly.
  • Sea life. The risk of being stung or bitten by any of a wide variety of sea creatures, from sharks and moray eels to jellyfish and stonefish.
  • Defective equipment. Broken or faulty equipment such as regulators and depth gauges leading to accidents, more often when equipment is rented.

Injury and death statistics for scuba diving

There has not been a great deal of research carried out in Australia regarding deaths and injuries from scuba diving. A report by researchers at Deakin University in 2016 estimated the annual fatality rate from dives in Queensland and found the following:

Fatalities per 100,000 divesVariance
Queensland residents0.120.05 - 0.25
International visitors to Queensland0.460.20-0.91
Overall0.480.37 - 0.59

The study concludes that a small portion of dives result in fatalities. However, it's important to understand that scuba diving can still affect your life insurance premium, depending on the nature of your regular diving practice.

What type of information may you need to provide?

Despite the lack of statistical data, most insurers consider scuba diving to be not without risk, and in order to insure you they may require more information about your scuba diving activities. This could include:

  • The type of scuba diving you do
  • The training you have received
  • Your level of experience
  • Any licences or qualifications you hold
  • Any memberships of scuba diving clubs or associations
  • The number of times you scuba dive per year
  • Whether you participate in competitions or record attempts
  • Whether you are a recreational or professional diver

What specific diving factors may affect how much you pay and how you are covered?

There are several specific factors an insurer will take into consideration when assessing your level of risk:

  • Your experience and training: the more times you have dived without incident and the higher your degree of certification, the more likely you are to be viewed as lower risk.
  • The type of safety equipment you use and whether your dive gear is regularly maintained.
  • The types of locations you dive in: an open-water recreational diver will be viewed more favourably than a cave diver or spear fisherman.
  • How often you dive: some insurers have limits on the number of dives you can do in a year.
  • How deep you dive: recreational diving between 9 and 15 metres is viewed favourably, while any depth greater than 40 metres could make you uninsurable (or increase your premium considerably).

Three ways life insurance can cover you

Most insurers will cover scuba divers for life insurance, providing your level of risk is not too high. The three ways they will normally cover you are:

  • By charging you a premium loading. This is a percentage loading of anywhere from 25 to 300% over the standard premium, depending on your level of risk.
  • Excluding cover all together. This means that any injuries or death resulting from your participation in scuba diving will not be covered by your policy, although you’ll still receive all the other benefits of life insurance protection.
  • Covering you without extra charge. In some cases, an insurer may choose not to charge you any extra if you scuba dive.

Am I covered professionally?

The short answer to this question is ‘no’. Most normal life insurers will not cover you if you scuba dive for a living or are paid to participate in scuba diving in any way, as the perception is the more times you dive, the greater the likelihood of an incident occurring. In this case you would need to find a specialty insurer prepared to cover the higher risk and an insurance broker would be able to assist you in finding the cover you need as a professional diver.

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Picture: Shutterstock

Maurice Thach

An insurance researcher and writer for finder.com.au who loves finding an answer to the question "Am I covered for ________?" Maurice has also completed a Tier 1 Life Insurance and a Tier 2 General Insurance Certification under ASIC's Regulatory Guide 146. This means he can confidently provide general advice for life insurance and non-life insurance products.

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