Through the years while teaching and traveling, both students and dive travel companions have often asked, “do I really need dive insurance?” to which I reply, “do you have an extra $25,000 lying around?” My personal experience with my diving insurance provider, DAN – Divers Alert Network, is a prime example of why supplemental insurance is a key component of my dive gear.
How much do you dive in a season; two, three, four times with multiple and/or repetitive dives per trip perhaps? How long was it since your last dive? Has your physical fitness or overall health changed? Regardless of the answers to any of these questions, one must ask how much risk you are willing to take. Better yet, you should check your personal medical insurance policy and determine whether it would cover a dive accident. Your primary medical insurance may exclude scuba diving as a hazardous recreational activity and/or may not provide coverage when you are traveling out of the country. If it does provide coverage, it may pay only a minimal amount for chamber treatments. There may be large out-of-pocket payments for deductibles and copays. These alone can total thousands of dollars.
Quick research shows there is no specific amount that one can tag to a “chamber ride” for Decompression Illness (DCI). However, anecdotal information and discussions with Hyperbaric Medicine Professionals revealed that the number of sessions vary based on several factors related to the symptoms and injury onset. However, most experts agree that a figure of $20,000-$25,000 was a fair assessment for a treatment cycle. When coupled with other medical costs, a single dive incident can severely impact personal savings if you have no supplemental insurance. Wouldn’t you prefer to use those savings to explore the next reef, wreck, beach or culture of some exotic location? I certainly do!
Dive insurance is not just for certified divers. Anyone simply starting their certification should acquire a student-level policy. Why not, it’s FREE! Our Open Water Diver certification program includes enrolling each student in the “DAN is My Buddy” student medical coverage. It is free of charge and provides coverage up to $25,000 for medical expenses for injuries occurring during entry-level training for both scuba and breath-hold diving. The coverage lasts 90 days after registration or until your last certifying dive, whichever comes first. As an SSI and PADI Master Instructor and DAN Examiner, I always emphasize the need for new Open Water students to sign-up for a continuing plan after their certification is complete. If you are planning to finish your checkout dives in some exotic location, ensure that you enroll for regular insurance so there is no lapse in coverage between your final certification dive and your first open water dive as a newly-minted ocean explorer.
I have personal experience using my DAN insurance some years ago. I was on a trip in the Florida Keys when I encountered a dense field of Jellyfish during a descent. I was stung on my face and neck and began to experience severe nausea and shortness of breath. Needless-to-say, I was transported to a local hospital and treated. Because the physicians were familiar with DAN, they placed a call and received expertise in the field and treated and released me. My DAN insurance picked up the cost of the ambulance ride and the hospital expenses. Nice!
No heavy sales pitch here, but seriously: if you dive at all, diving insurance is a must. Plans offered by DAN range from $40 to $120 for annual plans. You can also purchase plans that are short-term or single trip-based and many also include a variety of additional coverage such as equipment loss, repatriation, extended stays, emergency evacuation and more. Be smart and prepare for any eventuality. If you have any questions, contact us or visit the DAN website and see for yourself how membership in DAN and the right plan for you is the perfect companion to your dive gear!
Until next time, Fair Winds, Following Seas and Ultimate Visibility!
Doug Carlson – SSI and PADI Master Instructor, DAN Examiner, Business Owner