Scuba travel insurance - What exactly is it, and what are you covered for?

Scuba travel insurance is important for peace of mind when travelling.
Lets face it - scuba dive vacations tend to take you to some fairly out of the way locations, if something goes wrong – what now?

I went to scuba dive in Malaysia recently and there was no hyperbaric chamber anywhere close by, so getting ‘bent’ would have meant evacuation and I would think some fairly serious medical expenses just for that, let alone the cost of using a recompression chamber which by itself is shockingly expensive.

The possibility of this happening necessitates the purchase of good dive insurance from a reputable insurer.

Talking to people you hear them say often – 'oh I paid for my trip with my credit card, I’m fine!' – covered for scuba travel insurance…… - are you really?

Let me try to clear up some misconceptions about travel insurance – it can be a minefield and it is an area where there is potential to be ‘taken for a ride’.

I think that whatever insurance you take out, it is very important to speak to an insurance broker you know and can trust.

It is also better to get hold of a specialist broker or dealer – one that specifically caters for scuba travel insurance.

The rule of thumb is - don’t buy dive insurance over the internet. While I am sure there are reputable vendors on the net, it is just very hard to know what you are buying in this regard without having the facility to ask questions directly.

Often you can't see the policy before you have paid for it and reading the policy is a must, so many people get ‘burned’ by not knowing definitely what they are covered for, and in turn don’t realise they need to ask for extended cover because they are scuba diving and need scuba travel insurance.

Typical Travel Insurance is as follows:

Comprehensive travel medical Insurance
This is for people who have no other medical insurance, even at home, as your medical insurance through your employer would generally cover you once you return from your trip.
Each policy differs in amount covered and has excesses and limits. This needs to be checked in each case before you buy it.
Scuba diving is often not covered unless extended cover is requested.

Emergency travel medical insurance
This covers you for emergency services whilst you are travelling and once you return to your own country, you must take care of medical needs yourself – presumably your existing medical insurance.
As soon as you stop travelling (return home) the emergency cover falls away.
Most of the time your home Medical Insurance would cover you while travelling or would provided extended cover if requested.

Medical Evacuation Insurance
Be careful, very often activities like Scuba Diving are excluded from this so would be useless to you as a Scuba Diver unless you have taken out specific extended cover.

Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
This covers the cancellation or refund penalties as well as costs of getting home if the trip is cancelled. You have to be very careful to make sure the policy you are buying is suitable – many people have found what they bought, wasn’t covering what they thought it was.

The bottom line is be very wary of what you are getting, be careful to make sure you are covered for injuries resulting from what they may term ‘risky activities’, like Scuba diving or bungee jumping (surely scuba diving isn't as risky as bungee jumping?).

Also if they decide it was a pre-existing condition – like tooth decay, they may refuse to cover you.
If they believe or claim you were under the influence of alcohol when injured you won’t be covered.

If you insured for a given amount – say $1000.00 of camera equipment, you end up claiming $500.00 and they deem you undervalued your equipment – perhaps it is actually worth $1500.00, they will often say 50% undervalued, therefore we are knocking 50% off your claim, here’s $250.00, thank you very much’.

I suppose the thing to do is keep your eyes wide open and read the policy documents before committing yourself and ask questions, the only stupid question is the one you didn't ask!

For more on scuba travel insurance, click here.

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