One of the biggest misconceptions about buying life insurance, if you are a scuba diver, is that you will be classified as “High Risk“. This is simply not true.
However, your risky hobby will most likely increase your monthly premium. There are certain guidelines that insurance companies use to figure out your “risk rate”.
Health, hobbies, and history are a few of these and your answers all go into an algorithm that helps the underwriter determine your risk to the company, and frankly your risk of dying.
As a scuba diver, you may have learned that getting cheaper life insurance premiums is almost impossible.
But we’ve done some research and we found out that there are some measures you can take to mitigate the murky waters of high-risk and high premium life insurance.
Many scuba divers can still qualify for the best rates.
What Determines Your Rate?
When it comes to scuba diving, there are several factors that life insurance companies need to know to clarify the risk of your activity.
They need to know what type of certification you have, your experience with scuba diving, the average and max depth you dive and the type of scuba diving you participate in.
They want to make sure they know everything about your scuba diving experiences before they insure you.
Knowing these four things help insurance companies determine what risk they are taking on insuring your life.
Scuba Diver Certifications
If your are a scuba diver, you must be a certified scuba diver before an insurance company will even consider issuing you a policy.
Insurance companies want to make sure you are certified by a nationally recognized scuba diving organization such as PADI, NAUI or SSI to name a few.
They want to make sure that you are qualified and know what you are doing when you are diving.
The higher degree of certification you have, such as Advanced Scuba Diver or Master Scuba Diver, can also allow you to receive better rates.
Your scuba diving experience can tell the insurance company a lot about what type of diver you are. If you are just a recreational diver that goes when you are on vacation to the Caribbean, or if you are a more experienced diver. The insurance company will want to know how many dives you have had in your career.
If you have had a lot of dives in your career, this allows the insurance company to see you are a knowledgeable scuba diver, and therefore a safer risk than someone who has only done 4 – 5 dives in their life.
Life insurance companies will also be concerned with the amount of dives you have done in the past 1- 2 years. Life insurance companies are looking for consistencies in your dives. This allows them to reasonably predict your diving pattern for the future and access your risk based on that.This is where some insurance companies really start to stand out.
Some insurance companies have a MAX number of dives they allow per year for their top rate class. This number can vary from a few a year, vacation only, 10 or 12 to no max. Make sure you talk to a qualified agent who can get the company that suits your diving frequency.
Type of Scuba Diving
Another risk factor that life insurance companies take into account is the type of scuba diving you participate in. This is an important factor and something you want to be open with your insurance agent about, as it changes the companies that will offer you a life insurance policy.
Insurance companies can offer the best rates they have available to open water divers. What this means is they want to make sure that when you are diving you have a clear and non-obstructive path to the surface should the need arise. If you dive in reefs and lakes this is good news. However, if you enjoy cave diving, wreck diving or commercial diving, most insurance companies will only allow a Standard rate class and the majority will have a “Flat Extra” fee per $1,000 of insurance coverage.
Max Diving Depth
Out of all the factors listed above, the max depth you dive is by far the most crucial fact in determining your risk class. This fact is something you want to be completely honest with your agent with, as most companies have a max depth they will allow for their best rate classes.
75 feet is the typical max depth that insurance companies allow for their best rate classes.
This is usually above the range of most recreational dives. The standard recreational dive is usually around 30 -40 feet and includes 1 or more dive masters or instructors. Most insurance companies find this to be the least risky option when diving. There are a few companies that only allow up to 50′ dives, this is why it is important to make sure you are speaking with an agent who knows what he id doing.
Once you go past 75 feet the list of companies willing to give you preferred or preferred plus rates shrinks. 100 feet is the max depth allowed by the rest of the insurance companies for their best rates. If you are diving at these depths, it is very important to have the proper certification, as the standard open water diver certification only allows up to 60 feet.
As you progress past 100 feet the list of companies willing to insure you at preferred plus or preferred vanishes and there is only a handful of companies that will give you a standard rate class. Of the companies that will insure you for dives of 100 feet or more there is usually a ‘flat extra’ charge per $1,000 of coverage. This ‘flat extra fee’ can be anywhere from $2.50 – $7.50 per $1,000 of insurance coverage you are needing.
Being open and honest with your life insurance agent is one of the best moves you can make. With all the different standards and variables for each insurance company, it is important that they have all of the information they need when it comes to your scuba diving activities. Make the first step by talking to a qualified agent who can shop your policy around with the best company.