General exclusions when it comes to surfing cover
- No cover medically if you are under the influence of drugs and alcohol
- No cover medically if you participate professionally or in a paid capacity
- No cover for personal liability
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It's easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of planning a surf trip overseas without giving a second thought to travel insurance. But before jetting off it's crucial to ensure you have the right cover in place to protect you from massive overseas medical bills or damage to your boards. Just imagine if you hit the reef and required a medevac to the nearest hospital a few hours' flight away... your health insurance won't be there to cover the $10,000 plus medical bill.
Continue reading through guide to find out how the different Australian insurers cover surfing on different travel insurance policies.
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Surfing is only as risky as you make it and taking precautions can limit the risks considerably. Nevertheless, accidents do happen and some common risks include:
A good comprehensive policy will cover you for medical emergencies, so if you wipe out on a coral reef and receive cuts that need medical treatment, you will be covered for the cost up to the benefit limit.
There is a condition in many policies that you must have been taking reasonable care at the time you were injured (i.e. paddling out at Pipe if you have only been surfing a few months). If the insurer can show you put yourself in harms way, they may be able to reject your claim on the basis you did not take reasonable care to protect yourself.
Jasmine had completed her second day of surf lessons on her Costa Rican getaway. Confident with her newfound knowledge and familiarity with the board she had been using, Jasmine paddled out to the takeoff zone, eager to catch the towering sets of blue waves. After having some mild success on her first few attempts, Jasmine was hit in the back by a local surfer. When Jasmine tried to claim for her medical treatment and the next two days of hospital stay, she was unfortunately denied. Her travel representative explained that her claim was denied because she had surfed in a known advanced area, with only two days of experience, hence putting herself in harms way.
As with coral cuts, cover for shark attack injuries would depend on whether you behaved in a reckless manner or not. If you deliberately surfed in waters known to be shark-infested, your insurer may consider this reckless behaviour and not cover you for your injuries.
A comprehensive policy should include emergency evacuation and repatriation. If you are injured in a surfing accident on a remote island and the nearest hospital is only accessible by emergency airlift, then your insurance would cover the cost.
Johnny was enjoying the final week of his Indonesian trip surfing off a remote island until on one early morning surf, he became the victim of a hard wipeout. The sheer force of the wave dragged Johnny down to a nasty set of coral reefs, cutting his foot wide open. Unable to walk and in need of immediate medical attention, Johnny required a helicopter evacuation as there were no hospitals on the island. Johnny's only alternative was to wait for the next scheduled boat to take him back to the main island of Samba, which would not be until the next morning. Luckily, Johnny had secured a travel insurance policy with cover for surfing before he had left which happily paid for the helicopter evacuation upfront. This allowed Johnny to receive medical attention as soon as possible, avoid an infection and unnecessary financial heartaches.
As mentioned before, there are hazards associated with renting a board as well. A rented board may not be as easy to handle as your own board and you could injure yourself using it. It may also not be as well made and if it breaks, you could end up having to pay for it.
A comprehensive travel insurance policy like one from Go Insurance will offer hired surf equipment theft, breakage and loss cover as part of their "Watersports" option. This will cover damage to a rented board, but you will need to have appropriate documentation to support your claim. This would include the rental contract or receipt and evidence of how much you paid the hirer for repairs. If the rented board was stolen, you will also need to obtain a police report within 24 hours of the theft.
As with most luggage items, if your surfboard is damaged or lost while in the care of the airline, they will usually pay for damages, providing you report the incident as soon as possible. The amount of compensation will depend on the carrier, so if your surfboard is expensive, you would be wise to have travel insurance as well. In such circumstances, your insurer would pay you the difference between what the carrier reimburses you and what the board is insured for.
The best way to ensure your board is not damaged in transit is to buy a good quality board bag and wrap your board securely in bubble wrap, protecting the nose and tail and removing the fins if possible.
The government’s smartraveller website lists five questions you should ask yourself when buying travel insurance, which are equally applicable to Surf Travel Insurance.
If you’re planning a surfing holiday and don’t yet have a destination in mind, the following are some top surfing spots around the world:
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