Scuba diving travel insurance

Planning on scuba diving? Breathe easy with the right travel insurance.

Eve Powell
Eve Powell
Updated 22 May 2023  | 4 mins read
Reviewed by Jasmine Hembury

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Key points

  • Scuba diving isn’t typically covered as standard on most travel insurance policies
  • You can usually buy a water sports add-on or get extra cover added to your policy
  • Cover may depend on whether you’re a certified diver or diving with a qualified instructor
  • Check depth restrictions - to dive more than 30 metres you’ll need specialist cover

Do you need special travel insurance for scuba diving?

Exploring the underwater world can be a magical experience. However, because scuba diving is more risky than basic holiday activities, it’s important to have the right cover.

It isn’t usually covered by standard travel insurance, so you’ll need to check whether scuba diving is one of the activities listed on your policy.

If it’s included, you might only be insured to dive if you’re a PADI or BSAC qualified diver. Or if you’re supervised by a licensed instructor.

Insurers also usually have limits on how deep you can dive. So, find out if there are any restrictions and whether you’ll need extra cover.

What type of travel insurance do you need for scuba diving?

There are a few options you can choose from to make sure you’re covered for scuba diving:

Comprehensive travel insurance

Some standard policies include cover for scuba diving, along with other water sports. So it’s a good idea to compare what’s on offer and check whether you’re already covered.

According to Defaqto, 985 out of 1,046 annual travel policies cover scuba diving as standard.[1]

Water sports add-on

If scuba diving isn’t included, you can usually buy a water sports add-on or get extra cover. According to Defaqto, 37 out of 1,046 annual travel policies cover scuba diving as standard.[1] And if you’d like to do other exciting activities on your trip, adventure sports cover can include them all.

Scuba diving travel insurance

If you’re an experienced scuba diver and are planning on diving to 30 metres or more, you’ll usually need to take out specialist scuba diving insurance. A specialist policy can also cover your diving equipment in case it gets lost, stolen, or damaged.

What will scuba diving insurance cover?

The right travel insurance policy can cover you for various scuba-related activities and situations, including:

  • Diving to a certain depth - Most standard policies will cover you to dive to a depth of 18 or 30 metres, depending on whether you’re a certified diver or with a qualified instructor.
  • Types of diving - Some policies will cover you for shark diving or cage diving, so check to see what types of diving are included.
  • Diving equipment - Scuba diving equipment doesn’t come cheap, so whether you’re taking your own gear or hiring kit, it can be covered up to a maximum value.
  • Dive trip interruptions - Your policy can cover you if your diving trip is cancelled or delayed because of factors like bad weather or illness.
  • Emergency medical expenses - Scuba diving comes with more risk than regular holiday activities. So your policy may cover search and rescue services and any urgent medical care you might need, including recompression chamber treatment.

What else will it cover?

Your scuba travel insurance will also provide financial protection against a wide range of other general travel situations.

You’ll typically be covered for:

  • Repatriation to the UK (when required) if you fall ill or have an accident on your trip
  • Cancelling or cutting short your holiday for an insured reason
  • Lost or stolen luggage, belongings, passports, and cash
  • Personal liability cover, if you injure someone or damage their property
  • Travel delays and disruption
  • Medical costs if you become ill or get injured on your holiday

What won’t scuba diving insurance cover?

You won’t usually be covered if you scuba dive and fly within 24 hours of each other. So, make sure you give yourself enough time when you’re planning your trip.

For your travel cover to stay valid, you’ll also need to be diving with the right scuba equipment that conforms to the BSAC or PADI codes of practice.

But if you’re being paid directly or indirectly to dive - whether that’s with cash or through another kind of benefit - this will usually invalidate your cover.

And it’s important to properly research your holiday destination - your travel insurance policy won’t provide cover if you travel against UK government foreign travel advice.

What if I have a disability or long-term health condition?

Before you make any plans, it’s best to check with your GP or consultant that it’s safe for you to go scuba diving.

If you’re given the go ahead, you’ll need to organise travel insurance.

Tell your insurer about any pre-existing medical conditions - if you don’t, it’s likely to invalidate your cover. This could mean any claim you make is rejected.

A health problem or disability doesn’t mean you can’t get cover, but it can make your premiums more expensive.

However, if you’re finding it difficult to get cover for your medical condition, there’s a directory of insurance providers who may be able to help on MoneyHelper.

How can I get scuba diving insurance if I’m already on holiday?

Contact your insurer as soon as possible. Even if you’re already abroad, they may still be able to add scuba diving cover to your policy.

If this isn’t possible, you might be able to buy separate specialist cover for your dive.

And if you’re planning to go with a scuba diving company they may offer their own insurance - but check the policy details to see what will and won’t be covered.

Without the right insurance, you could be facing very expensive costs if you were to get injured or something went wrong.

Can I get cover for multiple scuba diving trips in a year?

Yes, if you’re planning on several trips, you can take out an annual multi-trip policy with European or worldwide cover.

This will cover you for two or more holidays in 12 months, up to a maximum of around 30 days each. It’s often cheaper than buying cover separately for each trip.

Look for a policy that includes scuba diving as standard, or you can buy a scuba diving or water sports add-on for your annual cover.

Frequently asked questions

You’ll need to check your policy details, but there’s a strong chance that if you’re covered for scuba diving, you’ll be covered for other water sports too. This can include sports like windsurfing and water skiing.

This largely depends on your insurer. Scuba diving is normally included with water sports insurance but look out for limits on how deep you can dive. If you’re a qualified scuba diver, you may only be covered to dive up to 30 metres and if you’re unqualified the limit is likely to be around 18 metres.

Some standard travel insurance policies will include cover for scuba diving, but for many you’ll need to buy an add-on or get extra cover. Check the policy wording to find out what cover is included and what restrictions are in place - for example, you might only be covered to dive up to a certain depth.

If you’re on a UK diving trip and you get ill or injured, the NHS will provide free medical care. But travel insurance can still help to cover other aspects of your trip. It can cover your kit and belongings in case they get lost, stolen, or damaged while you’re away. Plus, it can give you peace of mind that you’ll be covered if you need to cancel your trip unexpectedly.

BSAC membership includes liability insurance, so you’ll be covered for legal expenses up to £10 million if you accidentally injure someone else or damage their property. But you’ll need travel insurance to be covered for other situations and unexpected medical emergencies that might affect your trip. PADI membership doesn’t include insurance.

You’ll need to check the policy wording as this can vary by insurer. Typically, standard travel insurance will cover uncertified divers to around 18 metres (diving with a qualified instructor). Certified divers can be covered up to 40 metres. It’s possible to buy specialist cover to dive deeper than this, but depths of more than 130 metres must be agreed with the underwriters.

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