The PADI Protection Program

By Al Hornsby

As divers, we know the value of preparation for the unexpected. Whether it's being equipped with an alternate air source or carrying a spare parts kit, being ready for contingencies is something we consider standard operating procedure.

When it comes to the possibility of a diving medical emergency, we should be no less prepared. While we know our sport is very safe and the likelihood of an accident while diving is remote, considering the wide range of places our sport takes us, some very simple planning can go a long way.

A serious coral cut; a bone broken while climbing off a boat; the need for medication; a diving emergency requiring chamber treatment; any of these are possible. If they were to occur in a distant, primitive area where emergency evacuation was necessary, without preparation, a difficult, frightening situation could be created. Fortunately, reliable options to cover all these contingencies are easily available and less than you'll probably spend on T-shirts on your next dive vacation!

The PADI Diver Protection Plan, produced by Vicencia and Buckley Insurance Services, the dive industry's largest supplier of diving related insurance programs, provides all that is needed to be prepared for any diving medical emergency. With an inexpensive option, it can provide assistance for any emergency while traveling, whether diving related or not.

According to Steve Vincencia of V & B, who designed the PADI Diver Protection Plan, Creating a program like this requires a fundamental decision that balances the insurance programs costs of operations versus the ease of use by the customer. We're all familiar with the HMO approach to insurance, where you need pre-authorizations for treatment and so forth....We know that when something happens, it's a difficult, emotional time and we decided we would not use these sorts of restrictions; because they can delay evacuation and treatment, increase the customers' costs and raise an already high stress level. And, fortunately, owing to the strength of our insurance placements, we've been able to provide the most user-friendly approach possible and still have the least expensive program available. We are very proud of that.

As a result, PADI's Diver Protection Program is inexpensive, with the full basic program available for only $42 (no additional membership fees or other costs are required) and it's customer oriented. When an accident happens, the insureds can seek the most immediate emergency response and evacuation services available, without the need for pre-authorizations or other hassles. Importantly, there are also no deductibles, which means the insurance pays from the first dollar (after the diver's primary insurance has payed) of medical care and evacuation cost; an insureds only costs are the few dollars invested in the policy itself.

Additionally, other programs specify use of chamber facilities that have agreements with the insurance provider. With the PADI program, any chamber may be used. Chambers around the world have acknowledged this program for its quick, efficient payment of chamber bills, another important point in removing worry from the insured in a time of need.

The PADI Diver Protection Plan has three options: Silver ($42), Gold ($65) and Platinum ($95). All provide the basic package of medical and rescue expenses, including air evacuation and transportation; loss of flight tickets and accommodations; loss of dive equipment during a dive accident; death benefits and disability resulting from a dive accident; repatriation to home country; and Assist America travel emergency benefits, which include medically supervised repatriation, hospital admission guarantee, dispatch of prescribed medications, legal referral, emergency message transmission, emergency evacuation, medical consultations, critical care monitoring and care of minor children (Assist America's specific benefits apply when incidents are more than 100 miles from home, [only ? for Platinum Program nondiving]; the insurance plans apply regardless of location).

The limit for any one incident is $50,000 for the Silver, $100,000 for Gold and $275,000 for Platinum (there are no annual or lifetime limits; each limit is per accident). The other difference is in the Platinum program specifically. While Gold and Silver Assist America benefits apply only to the individual insured and specifically as a result of any diving accident, the Platinum program provides the Assist America benefits to the insured and immediate family, for any medical emergency while traveling (100 miles from home). For the few dollars extra, this is a significant benefit.

Further benefits are available exclusively to PADI Diving Society members. Besides an $20 discount on the Platinum program, members enjoy use of a 90 day, $25,000 limit, diving accident program for only $22. It's perfect for a dive trip, when year-round coverage isn't necessary.

With all the PADI Diver Protection Program's great benefits and low cost, PADI and V & B have decided to go a step farther. According to PADI's Senior Vice President of Training, Education and Membership, Drew Richardson, We support and commend the important work DAN does on behalf of diver safety. We were happy to pledge our support for DAN through the PADI Diver Protection Program. We are very pleased that through this program's direct sign-ups of DAN memberships and direct dollar donations, made each quarter to DAN, the PADI Diver Protection Program has become DANs largest single financial backer.

For more information or to sign up for the PADI Diver Protection Program, contact Vicencia and Buckley Insurance Services at (800) 223-9998 or (714) 739-3177, fax (714) 739-3188. Direct internet sign-ups are available at www.diveinsurance.com.