PADI Diver Protection

Daryl Carson

Scuba diving is a sport with a split personality. On one hand diving is presented as a completely safe and benign activity. It's the chance to float gracefully in warm clear water and frolic with the ocean's most adorable creatures. On the other, diving is pushed as an all-out adrenaline binge of shark encounters and bone-crushing depths.
The truth, of course, is that diving is both and that the individual chooses how much risk is worth the perceived reward. Okay, I'll feed sharks, but only with a trained pro showing me how it's done. This attitude of risk management is a healthy one. It helps insure that we enjoy diving for as long as possible and that nothing cuts short our enjoyment below the surface.
Every year, a large number of divers take this attitude of risk management an extra step and buy diver insurance. Just like ascending with 500 psi left in your tank or practicing air-sharing skills, diver insurance can help keep a bad situation from turning worse. Diver insurance provides coverage that many regular insurance policies do not, such as rescue and transportation (including evacuation flights), treatment in a hyperbaric chamber for the bends, loss of dive equipment and even extra expenses such as loss of flight tickets and accommodations. The costs associated with a dive accident, especially those that occur in remote parts of the world, can be significant, ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.
The PADI Diver Protection Program is one option for divers who decide to take the extra precaution of diver insurance. The program is offered by Vicencia and Buckley Insurance Services and is available to certified scuba divers worldwide. There are three levels of coverage. Each covers the losses already mentioned in addition to injuries related to snorkeling, death and disability, repatriation, and provides America Assist Benefits. America Assist Benefits offers assistance for travel emergencies arising from a diving accident, and are handled through an alarm center. Divers can call the center to get help with hospital admissions or to receive medical consultations. Other services include help with translators and sending emergency messages back home.
The three protection plans differ primarily in the total policy limits. The Silver Plan allows for $50,000, the Gold Plan $100,000 and the Platinum Plan $275,000. In addition, the Platinum Plan extends coverage from America Assist Benefits to immediate family members, covers accidents arising from any travel (not just diving) and the diver is not restricted by the 130-foot sport diving limit, as with the other plans. The annual program fees for these plans are $42, $65 and $95 respectively. The Platinum Plan is discounted to $75 for PADI Diving Society members.
Vicencia and Buckley also offer a Scuba Equipment Protection Program. It covers your equipment from theft while in storage or transit, accidental loss or breakage while diving and emergency jettison while diving. This program even reimburses the diver for rental expense while waiting for gear to be either repaired or replaced. There is flood coverage (optional) for underwater photo equipment, too.
A portion of the fees for these programs goes toward funding Project AWARE, PADI's ongoing effort to promote the preservation of the aquatic environment through education and the promotion of grass roots environmental initiatives throughout the dive community.
For more information, check out the Vicencia and Buckley website at www.diveinsurance.com or call (800) 223-9998.