Updated September 14, 2017
But in our experience talking to scuba divers who are shopping for life insurance, many are frustrated by the perception that life insurance companies see their hobby as risky. The annual fatality rate for divers is relatively low when compared to the death rates for heart disease or traffic. Why do life insurance companies see scuba divers as riskier than other applicants?
In reality, not all life insurance companies see scuba diving as risky. Just like consumers overestimate the cost of life insurance by nearly three times, many scuba divers overestimate how much their hobby will affect insurance premiums.
Best life insurance companies for scuba divers
Do you only dive on vacation or do you dive every other week? Are you always diving with a certified buddy in open water or are you searching for treasure in the Florida Keys? The details matter: insurance companies don’t see all forms of diving as equally risky, and they'll determine the risk - and how much to charge you - differenty. Scuba divers should look at these companies when they're shopping for life insurance, because they're typically flexible and will offer the best rates:
|Mutual of Omaha||Excellent|
How are insurance companies figuring out what they’re going to charge me?
To help you get a quick idea of whether or not your diving habits will affect your life insurance premiums, we created this flowchart that will match you with one of our three diver personas. All of these personas are based on a 35-year-old male with no health problems. Note that age and health factors will change your quotes.
Before we go further: most insurance companies won’t even consider covering you if you’re not a certified diver. If you’re not certified, they may cover you if you always dive with someone who is certified. Even if you are certified, your insurance company may stipulate that you always dive with a certified diving buddy.
Besides that, here's what life insurance companies want to know about your scuba diving habits:
1) Are you diving for pay?
This is the first question underwriters will ask you because it has the most complicated answer. There are lot of different kinds of diving for pay, and doing it doesn’t necessarily mean your premiums will increase. If you’re currently diving for pay in any form, be prepared for a lot of follow-up questions.
2) How many times do you dive per year?
Most insurance companies don’t have a limit for how many times you can dive per year. Insurance companies that do limit you usually put the limit between ten and twenty dives per year. Others limit you to dives that occur while you are on vacation. Some have loose limits that are open to interpretation, like "only a few" per year.
Our recommendation is to pick an insurance company with either a specific, named limit or no limit at all. We also recommend that you stay away from companies with vague limitations. Not only will it be harder to get an accurate quote from these companies before you apply, but if you break one of these vague rules without realizing it, you can end up invalidating your policy.
3) How deep do you usually dive and what’s your maximum depth?
In general, the deeper you dive, the more you’re going to pay. Most insurance companies have a depth limit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go deeper. If you normally dive deeper than a company’s depth limit, there is usually a flat fee of $2.50 to $5 per month per $1000 of coverage.
If the insurance company doesn’t offer a way to get around the depth limit, it’s better to look for a different policy with more flexible depth limit.
4 & 5) Do you dive in overhead environments (cave, wrecks, ice, salvage, etc.)? Do you dive outside of the recreational norm (rescue diving, etc.)?
We grouped these two questions together because they both result in you paying the highest premiums for your life insurance policies. You probably know if you dive in an overhead environment, but you not might be aware if one of your activities is outside of the recreational norm. Some examples of non-norm activities include free diving, spear fishing, and photography below 100 feet.
How do I guarantee I’ll get the best premium?
Work with an independent broker or agent to find the best premiums. An independent agent, like PolicyGenius, can compare quotes from a wide variety of different life insurance providers in order to find the cheapest premiums. An independent agent will also know more about how individual insurers deal with activities outside of the recreational norm, making sure that no matter what kind of diving you do, you’ll always get the best premiums.
Do I have to tell the insurer that I’m a diver?
This is important advice for any insurance policy application, but it bears repeating: do not lie on your life insurance application. You might be tempted to lie about how deep you dive or about some of your riskier behavior in order to avoid higher premiums. But if the insurance company finds out you’ve lied to them, the consequences are much worse than paying a few bucks. At best, they’ll just take the premiums you owe them out of your death benefit. At worst, they’ll cancel the entire policy. And let’s say you told your insurance company that you never dive below 100’ and then you die at 130’? They can refuse to pay the benefit, leaving your loved ones high and dry.
You can also buy a life insurance without diving coverage, avoiding the premium bump. Currently only Principal offers this, but if you’re interested in this option, you should tell your agent or broker. They can run quotes with and without diving coverage so you can more accurately compare prices.
I’ve seen special insurance packages customized for divers and they seem a lot cheaper. Are they better than a generic life insurance policy?
It depends. Specialized insurance products, like the plans offered by the Diving Alert Network, can be great for divers. Specialized insurance for divers is tailored specifically to the kind of medical costs that affect divers and can provide extra benefits like covering lost diving equipment and lost transportation costs.
Though specialized insurance is great for covering diving related accidents, be aware of what it doesn’t cover. DAN’s insurance plan doesn’t cover any accidents or illnesses not caused by a diving related accident. Get into a car accident on the way to your next diving trip? DAN’s plan won’t cover that.
Specialized insurance plans are best seen as an augmentary insurance product that you buy in addition to a generic insurance policy. You can buy a life insurance policy from Principal with something called a "diving exclusion rider," which means the policy will cover everything except diving and your diving activities will not affect your premium.
Not a scuba diver? See our list of the best life insurance companies for everyone.