Although recreational scuba has a relatively low serious incident rate, there are unpredictable factors which can increase the likelihood of a diving accident.
Murky water, strong ocean currents, equipment failure and probably the most common cause of serious accidents – Diver Error – all contribute to the additional risks of what may be considered, a safe sport.
However, it could also be classed as a dangerous sport if you include such mistakes as poor judgment, inadequate preparation or lack of proper training and equipment use.
Unfortunately, mistakes of this nature generally have serious consequences and occasionally result in hospitalization or even worse.
Therefore, the prudent individual will use good judgment, proper pre-dive planning, safety checks, and purchase comprehensive scuba accident insurance.
The extent of cover ranges from basic injury insurance to professional liability policies. DAN is a non-profit making insurance company that covers worldwide scuba travel, equipment loss, accident health and safety - including repatriation - more information is available on their website.
Many countries require divers to have insurance cover which can either be annual coverage or there are short-term policies that are more appropriate for occasional or holiday participation.
The price varies accordingly, but it is wise to consider the consequences and costs of hospital treatment and repatriation, should it become necessary.
Recompression in a hyperbaric chamber is expensive and not always immediately available depending on the remoteness of the destination. In some severe incidents, it may also be necessary to use an air ambulance to get the patient to proper hospital care and the final journey home could easily escalate the costs above $100,000.
We are not suggesting that scuba accidents happen regularly and as we mentioned earlier the annual figures of injury reports are comparatively low, however we would like to encourage all participants in the industry to obtain personal insurance cover and use safe diving techniques that help to reduce the frequency of such incidents.
There are numerous companies that offer accident insurance for scuba divers and most of them have an easy online signup facility. Our main advice would be to make sure that the coverage is appropriate and adequate for the type of diving that is anticipated and also for the areas that you may be travelling to.
Another valid point is whether there is re-compression treatment available in your chosen destination and also how well equipped are the boats that you may be using. Is there oxygen on board and would it be enough to cover the journey back to EMS?
In the main, most reputable operators have emergency oxygen supplies and well stocked first aid kits on board with trained staff who are capable to administer it to someone in need. You might be surprised by our top ten common scuba mistakes!
A final thought from us is that there is no substitution for proper planning and prevention of accidents in general. Combined with safe practices, participants would also benefit from professional training in rescue techniques and emergency medical treatment.
DAN, for example, has courses that target oxygen first aid for scuba injuries, first aid training for hazardous marine life injuries, and basic life support courses in CPR and First Aid, to name just a few.
The continuing education in medical applications for scuba can only create a positive future for the safety of diving in an ever increasingly unpredictable environment.
Additional benefits of being a DAN member also support their continued endeavors to improve the safety for all divers through their research, training, and education pursuits.
Another bonus is that DAN ‘TravelAssist’ coverage, which entitles the member to emergency medical evacuation cover in the event of an illness or accident if the claim is made more than 80 km from home.
Your plastic membership card is small enough to carry in a wallet and lists the call numbers of international emergency hotlines.
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Insurance Coverage Plans generally consist of the following;
Standard Plan – offers coverage for decompression illness (DCS) which includes both arterial gas embolism (AGE) and decompression sickness (DCS) sustained on a covered or repetitive dive series to a maximum depth of 40 meters, covering limited hyperbaric fees and physicians and medical supplies used in the treatment of DCS.
Master Plan – providing coverage for decompression illness and all covered in-water injuries sustained on a covered or repetitive dive series to a maximum depth of 50 meters. A master plan normally has death or dismemberment benefits arising from a covered diving accident.
Preferred Plan – extra benefits cover accidental death and dismemberment resulting from a covered diving accident to any depth, provided that the insured held appropriate certification for it, and was using appropriate breathing gas mixes and equipment during the submersion or repetitive dive series.