The time has come. I've been toying with the idea for a while, but I've finally taken the plunge and signed up or scuba diving insurance.
I dive more than three times a year, and plan to dive frequently in the future. It's said that the only way to prevent decompression illness (DCI) is to not dive, so it makes sense that the more you dive, the more risk you incur. You can follow every table or computer to the letter and still get sick.
I know I sound like an insurance salesman, but when you purchase insurance, you are purchasing peace of mind. DCI is expensive, especially if they have to helicopter you off a boat. To make matters worse, most insurance policies don't cover scuba diving accidents, so you can easily accrue tens of thousands of dollars in debt from a single incident!
Check your policy. Find out if you're covered. You'll probably find that you're not as protected as you thought. For me, the small cost per year is well worth the peace of mind.
I'm sure many companies will be happy to underwrite you for additional coverage. For most people, however, the easiest way to get coverage is through the Divers Alert Network (DAN). DAN is a non-profit medical and research organization that supplies resources for recreational divers.
I signed up for insurance through DAN and it was easy. There are only two steps:
Become a DAN member
Only DAN members are eligible for insurance. This comes with some perks like a subscription to their magazine, but nothing I was terribly interested in. Individuals pay \$35 a year for membership or you can subscribe your household (people with the same mailing address) for \$55 a year (these prices are current as of 2010 and in US dollars).
Sign up for DAN insurance
Once you have membership, you can immediately sign up for insurance. DAN offers three insurance programs: the standard plan, the master plan, and the preferred plan.
The standard plan is rather skimpy, which is reflected in the \$25 a year cost. There is a \$45,000 lifetime maximum payout for the plan.
The master plan is a little better, offering a \$125,000 lifetime maximum payout. It includes a few additional items, such as payment for lost diving equipment, dismemberment (yikes!), and disability. For these additional benefits the price goes up to \$35 a year.
The preferred plan offers \$250,000 coverage per incident. It includes slightly higher payouts for each item compared to the master plan, but the cost doubles to \$70 a year.
I went with the Goldilocks plan, right in the middle. It balanced decent payout with a cheap yearly cost. For individual membership in the master plan, you're facing \$35 + \$35 = \$70 a year: a perfectly reasonable cost for active divers.
The entire process took less than 15 minutes, including signing up for DAN membership. DAN will want to know who your primary insurance provider is since some parts of a diving incident may be covered by your primary plan, so you may want to have that information at hand.
DAN is a US organization, so this only applies to American divers. I'm curious about divers from other countries, particularly those with public health care: does your healthcare cover diving accidents, along with hyperbaric treatment, or do you take out private insurance?