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Scuba Diving Travel Insurance

Need scuba diving travel insurance? Make sure you understand the conditions first

Are you sitting there wondering, "Can I get travel insurance for scuba diving?" The answer is Yes, but ... Keep reading to find out more about the conditions surrounding scuba diving travel insurance.

Can I get travel insurance for scuba diving?

Most travel insurance policies will cover you if you plan to go scuba diving provided that:

  • You hold an open water diving licence, which is the entry-level full diver certification
  • You are diving with a PADI licensed instructor or an instructor who holds an open water diving licence recognised in Australia

Common travel insurance conditions related to scuba diving

All travel insurance policies have conditions on scuba diving cover. Some require you to have obtained your open water diving licence in Australia, while others require you to not dive alone. One sneaky condition to be aware of relates to the depth of the dive: the deeper you dive, the greater the chance of complications. Some insurers will only cover you for dives up to 10 metres. However, most travel insurers cover you for dives of 30 metres.

If you want to dive any deeper, you may need to take out special cover. These policies typically cover you for dives up to a depth of 30 metres and include cover for diving equipment if it needs to be cut loose in an emergency.

Scuba diving insurance usually won’t cover you for:

  • Diving professionally
  • Reckless behaviour while diving
  • Search and rescue expenses
  • Your dive equipment while it is in use
  • Rented dive equipment
  • Diving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

How do the insurers in the finder.com.au panel treat scuba diving?

BrandIs Scuba Diving Covered?Apply for cover
1CoverYes, 1Cover offer scuba diving travel insurance provided you have a licence or are diving with a licensed instructor. You are covered up to a depth of 30 metres.Get Quote
AMEX Travel InsuranceYes, AMEX provide scuba diving insurance if you hold an open water diving certificate or your dive is supervised by a qualified diving instructor.Get Quote
AIGDiving underwater using an artificial breathing apparatus is covered provided you hold an open water diving licence or you were diving under licensed instruction.Get Quote
Budget Direct Travel InsuranceYou’re covered for scuba diving if you’re unqualified but with instructor or hold a licence. You are covered for dives up to a depth of 30 metres.Get Quote
Citibank Travel InsuranceYes, CitiBank provide scuba diving travel insurance if you hold an open water diving certificate or your dive is supervised by a qualified diving instructor.Get Quote
Columbus DirectColumbus Direct offer scuba diving insurance you as long as you’re scuba diving with a qualified diving instructor and to maximum depth of 30 metres.Get Quote
CoverMoreScuba diving is covered as long as you hold an open water diving certificate or your dive is with a qualified diving instructor.Get Quote
DownunderDu insure offer scuba diving travel insurance if you hold an open water diving licence issued in Australia or you were diving under licensed instruction.Get quote
Easy Travel InsuranceScuba diving is covered as long as your dive is with a qualified diving instructor or you hold an open water diving certificate.Get Quote
Fast CoverFast cover will provide scuba diving insurance provided you hold an open water diving licence issued in Australia or you are diving under licensed instruction.Get Quote
Go InsuranceScuba diving is automatically covered if you are qualified for the dive undertaken or with a licensed instruction, not diving alone, not diving in caves or ice diving or at depths greater than 30 metres.Get Quote
InsureandGoYou’re covered for scuba diving if you have a licence or are with an instructor, up to a maximum depth of 30 metres.Get Quote
iTrekITREK cover scuba diving insurance if you hold an open water diving licence that was issued in Australia or you are diving under licensed instruction.Get Quote
MultiTrip Travel InsuranceScuba diving is covered if you are qualified for the dive or are diving with a licensed instruction and not diving at depths greater than 30 metres.Get quote
Simply Travel InsuranceSimply Travel Insurance does offer scuba diving insurance provided cover you if you hold an open water diving licence that was issued in Australia or you are diving under licensed instruction.Get quote
Skiinsurance.com.auSki-insurance.com.au does offer scuba diving travel insurance as long as you are diving under licensed instruction or hold an open water diving licence that was issued in Australia.Get Quote
Southern CrossSCTI offer travel insurance with scuba diving cover if you hold an open water diving certificate or are diving with a qualified instructor.
STA Travel InsuranceSTA have travel insurance with scuba diving cover if your claim if you as long as you hold an open water diving licence/certificate or are diving with a licensed instructor.Get quote
Tick Travel InsuranceYou’re covered for dives up to a depth of 30 metres, as long as you’re supervised or with an instructor.Get quote
Travel Insurance DirectTID provide scuba diving travel insurance if you hold an open water diving licence or are diving under licensed instruction.Get Quote
Travel Insurance SaverTravel insurance saver cover scuba dives if you hold an open water diving licence or plan to dive with a licensed instructor.Get quote
Travel InsuranzYou are covered for scuba diving for dives up to 30 metres, if you hold a licence or you’re accompanied by a properly qualified instructor, and you’re not diving alone, on or in wrecks or cave or ice diving.Get Quote
Virgin MoneyYou’re only covered for dives up to a depths of 10 metres, unless you buy the adventure pack as an additional option. If you do, you’re covered as long as you’re not diving alone, not at a depth greater than 30 metres and you hold an open water diving licence recognised in Australia or are diving with an instructor licensed for these activities.Get Quote
Woolworths Travel InsuranceTo have scuba diving travel insurance with Woolworths you must hold an open water diving licence recognised in Australia or dive with an instructor licensed for these activities.Get Quote
Worldcare Travel InsuranceWorldCare provide travel insurance with scuba diving cover if you hold an open water diving licence issued in Australia or you are diving under licensed instruction.Get Quote
youGoTo have cover under this policy you must hold an open water diving certificate or dive with a qualified diving instructor.Get Quote

What will a regular policy cover me for scuba diving?

A regular travel insurance policy will also cover you for the normal things associated with travel. These include:

  • Overseas medical and hospital treatment. You’re covered if you’re injured in a diving accident and need emergency evacuation, medical treatment or hospitalisation (cover for hyperbaric treatment for decompression injuries will depend on the insurer).
  • Lost or stolen belongings including dive gear. You’re covered for individual items up to the benefit limits of the policy, providing a police report is obtained within 24 hours of discovering the theft.
  • Cancellations and delays. You’re covered if you miss your flight due to illness or an accident en route to the airport or if your trip is delayed due to circumstances beyond your control.
  • Liability. If you injure another person or damage their property, you will usually be covered for the legal fees and compensation.

Diving into the abyss

14119878779_b106186f9f_qVirgil spent years organising and saving for a scuba diving trip to the Caribbean. He wanted to explore the Cayman Trough, a curious patch of sea between Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

Virgil had scuba diving travel insurance, held an open water diving certificate and was diving with his close friend and licensed instructor Lindsey.

While on their dive, the pair came across the wreck of an old fishing vessel. Not wanting to pass up the opportunity to explore a real-life shipwreck, Virgil swum through a rusted gash in the boat's hull.

In his haste, Virgil’s primary regulator got caught on a jagged piece of metal, tearing a hole in the line. Panic set in.

With Lindsey nowhere in sight, Vigil clambered towards the surface, forgetting his emergency ascent procedures. Not even halfway up, Virgil blacked out due to hypoxia.

Lindsey was able to get Virgil to the surface and drive him to a local hospital, where he spent two weeks recovering in the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.

Virgil contacted his insurer but was informed that he was not covered, as his policy excluded diving in wrecks or caves. This left Virgil with a hospital bill of $5,000, which meant he was left with a pile of debt on top of the cost of the holiday.

What are the risks of scuba diving?

As scuba diving involves entering an alien (and sometimes hostile) environment and being totally dependent on an artificial breathing apparatus, it involves a higher level of risk than some other adventure activities. Common risks associated with scuba diving include:

  • Barotrauma. A too-rapid descent can cause an air pocket to develop in the middle ear, resulting in severe pain and injury to the ear.
  • Decompression sickness. A too-rapid ascent to the surface can cause ‘the bends’, where the body absorbs too much nitrogen, which can cause paralysis and death.
  • Pulmonary embolism. A too-rapid ascent can also cause the lungs to swell and even burst.
  • Sea creatures. While shark attacks are rare, they can and do happen, along with the risk of bites and stings from a variety of sea creatures.
  • Defective equipment. A broken depth gauge can lead to decompression sickness. A bad regulator can lead to drowning.

Tips for staying safe when scuba diving overseas

There are general safety rules that apply any time you are scuba diving and there are also rules that are particularly important when diving overseas. General diving tips include the following:

  • Only dive if you are fit to do so (don’t dive if you have a cold or a hangover).
  • Check your gear thoroughly to ensure everything is in good working order and then do a buddy check of your fellow divers.
  • Plan your dive. If diving with a group, listen to your instructor or dive guide regarding the planned route and what to look out for.
  • Monitor your air gauge and make sure you have enough air left to get back to the boat.
  • Descend and ascend slowly during every dive.

When diving overseas, you should also do the following:

  • Thoroughly check rental dive gear, as safety standards may not be as high in the country you are visiting.
  • Only dive with reputable companies using licensed, seaworthy boats and well-maintained dive equipment. Make sure you check your instructor’s credentials.
  • Don’t fly for at least 24 hours after scuba diving, as the aircraft’s pressurised environment can trigger decompression sickness if you still have excess nitrogen in your system.
  • Make sure you have appropriate travel insurance and that the kind of diving you plan to do is fully covered.

What to do if you injure yourself overseas

The first steps are simple:

  • Make sure you or any members of your travelling party aren’t in any future danger.
  • Contact the relevant authorities.
  • Contact your insurer when safe to do so.

Collecting documentation for your scuba diving travel insurance

If the incident was reported to the authorities, request a copy of the police report.

If you’re hospitalised, make sure you ask your doctor to provide a medical report. This will ideally:

  • Be written on a page displaying the hospital’s letterhead
  • Include the date of the incident
  • Specify what injuries were sustained
  • Advise whether you are fit for travel
  • Describe any future treatments that may be required
  • Provide the contact details for your physician

Additionally, hold onto any X-rays or scans.

Tip: If you’re paying for anything as a result of the incident, such as medical bills or the food while you’re in hospital, pay with card and not cash so that there is a transaction history you can refer to.

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Richard Laycock

Richard is the senior insurance writer at finder.com.au and is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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