Life Insurance for Scuba Divers

How much you have to pay for life insurance is determined by one thing: 

Your risk level.

And risk level is determined by several factors. These include age, health, family medical history, driving record, whether you smoke or not, and lifestyle. 

Scuba diving is an activity and a sport, albeit one that’s performed with a certain level of risk. If you’re reading this, you’re probably aware of that already. However, it’s still worth pointing out since knowing how insurance companies view how you perform it can affect your life insurance rates considerably. 

How Risky Is Scuba Diving?

DAN (Divers Alert Network) America reports 16.4 deaths per 100,000 persons per year among its members while their British counterpart, BSAC (British Sub-Aqua Club) reveals an average of 14.4 deaths for every 100,000 persons per year.

Statistically speaking, scuba diving is nearly three times more dangerous than skydiving. However, driving in a car is five times more dangerous than scuba diving, so, while scuba diving may seem like a dangerous activity, dying in a car crash is actually much more likely.  

But what do these numbers tell us? And do they really matter to life insurance underwriters? The short answer is no—-ultimately, stats do not dictate how a person gets assessed for risk when it comes to life insurance. Life insurance rates for scuba divers depend on several factors which you’ll learn about in a bit.

Factors That Affect Life Insurance Rates for Scuba Divers

Scuba diving may or may not dramatically affect the premium rate at which you’ll be quoted. Here are the key aspects that determine a scuba diver’s life insurance premiums:

Are you a certified scuba diver? 

If scuba diving is an activity that you perform frequently (whether for work or as a hobby), then getting certified is an absolute must. Insurance companies see scuba diving certification as proof that you’ve been provided with the necessary training and knowledge to perform the activity safely. 

And while it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t bump into any trouble while underwater, getting certified means you’re aware of both the basic and advanced techniques and precautions. Most insurance companies won’t approve your life insurance application if you aren’t certified. So, you better get your certification first before trying to purchase a policy. 

How often do you scuba-dive? 

It’s simple, really: the more often you dive, the higher the risk of something unfortunate happening. Note though that a pro scuba diver will not automatically get rated with a pricier premium since they do it more frequently versus casual divers. Underwriters need to consider frequency as a factor in relation to other aspects (for example, diving skill and experience, certification level, among others).

How deep do you dive? 

Same with frequency, diving deeper exposes the diver to more risks, which is why some underwriters classify them according to three depth categories:

Vacation diver

If the person is scuba diving less than 75 meters and mainly as a part of their vacation itinerary (does less than 10 dives per year). This type of diver is Open Water Certified (accompanied) and has the best chance of getting a Preferred Best premium rating. 

Typical Life Insurance Rates for Vacation Divers: 

Coverage Term Length Premium
$250,000 20 years $14
$500,000 20 years $22
$250,000 30 years $22
$500,000 30 years $39

Recreational diver 

A person who dives less than 100 meters for an unlimited number of times per year. They are Open Water Certified and can be approved for Preferred Best rating with the right insurance provider.

Typical Life Insurance Rates for Recreational Divers: 

Coverage Term Length Premium
$250,000 20 years $16
$500,000 20 years $25
$250,000 30 years $24
$500,000 30 years $41

Risky diver

A person who dives more than 100 meters. Typically reserved for pro scuba divers who perform it quite often whether for sport or for a living. They usually have multiple certifications under their belt. These include Open Water, Cave Diving, Advance/Master Diver,  Free Diving, Wreck Diving, Rescue Diving, and Treasure Diving.

Typical Life Insurance Rates for Risky Divers: 

Coverage Term Length Premium
$250,000 20 years $70-125
$500,000 20 years $130-240
$250,000 30 years $80-135
$500,000 30 years $150-260

Where do you scuba dive? 

Location is also crucial when it comes to scuba diving. For example, a more exotic or remote location (underground caves or underneath the ice are examples) are naturally considered to be riskier compared to normal recreational spots with more controlled environments. 

Whether you’re alone or not when you scuba-dive is also important. Insurance companies prefer that divers are accompanied as it’s safer in general and you’ll have someone to help you in case of an accident or trouble underwater.

Do you scuba-dive for a living? 

If you do it for a living, insurance underwriters will likely ask you more questions and want additional details on the nature of your work. It’s no different from the procedures for other high-risk types of professions.

How many certifications do you have? 

Having “Master Diver”, “Wreck Diver”, “Rescue Diver”,  and “Divemaster” certifications is a leg up versus having only an “Open Water Diver” certification when applying for a life insurance policy. Having more proof of experience and expertise in scuba diving can be a big plus. 

Let’s take a closer look at the different types of scuba diving certifications and how each gets assessed when you apply for life insurance.

Open Water Diver Life Insurance

It’s the most widely applied-for certification amongst all scuba diving courses. All scuba diving organizations offer it and is considered the minimum certification required if you want to scuba dive and apply for a life insurance policy. 

The basic OWD certification tops at depths of 60 feet while the Advanced OWD allows dives up to a maximum of 100 feet underwater. Most certified open water divers who dive less than 100ft-deep can qualify for preferred rates with some insurance companies.

Wreck Diver Life Insurance

Wreck diving is performed with the goal of exploring various types of underwater shipwrecks and structures. When it comes to life insurance underwriting, the type of wreck diving that’s being performed is an important factor. Here are three types of Wreck Dives:

  • Non-Penetration Wreck Dives – The scuba diver only swims near, beside, above, or around the wreck but never inside (hence the name). 
  • Limited Penetration Wreck Dives – The scuba diver swims around the perimeter of the wreck and goes inside to explore. However, he or she is only allowed to explore in spaces where there is natural light. It’s important to note that life insurance underwriters typically add a flat extra charge* when this is performed.
  • Full Penetration Wreck Dives – Only scuba divers that have the necessary certification and experience can perform this type of dive as it requires technical expertise. Since it poses a significantly higher risk, most insurance companies either rate the diver with preferred rates or standard rates plus a flat extra charge*. 

*Flat extra charge is basically an extra fee that insurance companies charge for every $1,000 of coverage to scuba divers who dive to depths of more than 100 feet.

Cave Diver Life Insurance

Cave diving is the exploration of water-filled caves. It’s considered high-risk by most life insurance companies since conditions and circumstances can vary greatly unlike open water diving.

The number one cause of death when cave diving is getting lost or trapped within the caves then running out of air. A flat charge extra is almost always added on top of the life insurance premium of a cave diver.

Life Insurance Questions for Scuba Divers

How the very act of scuba diving is performed varies widely based on the diver’s experience, certifications, frequency of dives, type of scuba diving performed, and depths explored. Now in order to get an accurate assessment of your risk, life insurance underwriters will ask the following questions to scuba divers:

  • What scuba diving certifications do you hold?
  • How many dives per year do you average?
  • When did you learn to dive and how long have you been diving?
  • What is the average time you spend underwater per dive?
  • Where do you scuba dive – Lakes, oceans, rivers, etc?
  • What is the maximum depth you dive to?
  • Which scuba diving club or organization are you a part of?
  • Do you dive alone or do you have a diving companion?
  • Have you ever had decompression sickness?
  • How many dives were 75′ deep or less?
  • How many dives were 76-100′ deep?
  • 101 – 130′ deep?
  • Greater than 130′ deep?
  • Aside from open water diving, do you also do any of the following: Wreck diving, cave diving, high-altitude, or ice diving?
  • Do you plan on scuba diving in the near future?
    • Do you have any scuba diving activities planned for the next 12 months?
    • If yes, where will you be diving?
    • And what depths will you be diving to?
    • Will you be diving solo or with a companion?

Best Life Insurance Companies for Scuba Divers

If you’re curious to know which life insurance companies provide the best “scuba-diver-friendly” rates, then this list is for you.

Life Insurance Company Rating in terms of rates for Scuba Divers
Protective Excellent
Lincoln Excellent
Mutual of Omaha Excellent
AIG Good
Prudential Good
John Hancock Good

Specialized Diver Insurance Policies

If you scuba-dive, chances are you’ve probably heard of diving organizations that offer insurance like PADI, DAN, NAUI, DiveSafe, DiveAssure, and Diver’s Security Insurance. They cover nearly all diver-related events such as:

Dive Accident Insurance

Covers dive hyperbaric chamber treatment and emergency evacuation both in the home country or abroad. These include private jet or helicopter fees as well as re-compression treatments that can be very costly. Be aware that dive accident insurance should not be used as a replacement to your primary medical insurance as any treatments for associated injuries including rehabilitation is usually not included.

Trip Insurance

Coverage for interruptions related to travel (trip cancellations, natural disasters, bad weather resulting in airline cancellation, etc.,)

Dive Equipment and Camera Insurance

Coverage for loss of scuba-diving gear and equipment that may or may be due to water damage and/or theft and lost baggage. If you will be carrying various scuba diving gear (or have paid a premium price for them) then making sure they’re covered is a must.

Are Specialized Diver Insurance Policies Any Good?

Now, to answer the question if specialized diving insurance policies are any good, the answer is—-yes, they are. However, they are best utilized if used as supplementary coverage to your main life insurance policy.

Since they cover various types of diving-related events or accidents, these specialized insurance policies can be of tremendous help to those who do frequent scuba diving (as a hobby or a profession). However, note that only incidents related to scuba diving are usually covered, and that’s where your main life insurance policy comes in. 

Say you’re on a trip abroad and got into an accident not related to scuba diving. Your primary policy (e.g term or permanent) will ensure you have the necessary funds to cover the expenses. 

Some companies, like Principal, offer a diving exclusion rider that allows a policy to cover pretty much anything except diving-related incidents. This lets you maintain a standard premium and avoid potentially pricier rates because of your scuba diving activities.

How to Get The Best Life Insurance Rates for Scuba Divers

If you scuba dive frequently and want coverage for your activities, the best option might be to add supplementary specialized diving insurance such as those policies offered by DAN or PADI, to name a few. You can get a regular term or whole life insurance policy, avail of the diving exclusion rider (to remove any additions on your premium), then get diver’s insurance. 

This option is the most flexible as it would pretty much cover everything that you could possibly need. If you find having two separate policies is too pricey, then you can always check out the offerings from various insurance companies. Asznd go with the ones that provide the best rates for scuba divers. 

Our list of best life insurance companies for scuba divers above is a good place to start. Lastly, for both options, working with a professional life insurance agent is recommended as they can help you get a tailor-fit policy for your needs. 

Good luck and happy diving!