Right up there with health conditions and occupation is another risk category life insurance companies are concerned with that most consumers never think about: high-risk hobbies.
These include any recreational activity that has a statistically higher likelihood of death than more ordinary activities.
For example, no one would doubt that skydiving and motorcycle racing are more likely to result in death than writing science fiction or making YouTube videos as a hobby. This point isn’t lost on life insurance companies. You’ll generally pay an additional premium if you regularly engage in hobbies that are classified as high risk by the industry.
One prominent example of a high-risk hobby is scuba diving. While it is possible to get life insurance for scuba divers, you should expect to pay a higher premium than you would if you didn’t engage in the hobby.
How much you’ll pay will depend on the extent of your scuba diving activities.
How Dangerous is Scuba Diving?
We weren’t able to uncover any statistics to show how dangerous scuba diving is (or isn’t), but ScubaDiving.com lists four primary risk factors:
1. Poor Diver Health
Unfortunately, there are few health-related restrictions that would prevent a person from participating in scuba diving.
2. Procedural Errors
These include buoyancy control problems, rapid ascents, missed decompression stops, general skill limitations, ear equalization problems, and failing to properly monitor your air supply.
Any of these can happen if you lack adequate training or supervision. These issues also become more pronounced with specialized diving, like exploring caves, shipwrecks, or engaging in particularly deep dives.
3. Environmental Issues
As peaceful as the great deep blue appears on TV, there’s actually a lot of activity taking place. This can include currents, waves, depth, and visibility. Water temperature can also be a factor, as there are significant differences between diving in cold water versus warm.
Failing to judge—and manage—any of these environmental issues can increase the risk of injury or death.
4. Equipment Problems
Though these can usually be avoided through advanced preparation, they sometimes go undetected. Fortunately, however, equipment problems are less likely to cause fatality than any of the issues above.
What’s worth noting is that it’s not scuba diving itself that is the immediate cause of death, but rather personal or outside circumstances. But, the fact remains that a person is more susceptible to health issues, human error, environmental effects, and equipment problems precisely because they are operating in an unnatural environment.
Does Life Insurance Cover Scuba Diving?
The short answer is yes. Unless you regularly engage in the riskiest of dives, like deep-sea diving, your application is very likely to be approved.
However, the issue will be the premium you pay. Though not all forms of scuba diving will result in higher premiums, anything beyond a casual level of diving will.
Your life insurance policy will be priced based on the usual factors: your age, health, gender, occupation, and various other factors. A flat-rate premium will then be added to the base premium to adjust for your scuba diving activities.
When you make an application for life insurance, you must disclose that you engage in scuba diving. You can get a life insurance policy with a premium based on your overall insurability alone, but death due to scuba diving is likely to be excluded as a covered event.
Whatever you do, don’t lie on the application by not indicating your scuba diving activities.
Life Insurance Contestability Period
Every life insurance policy has what’s known as a contestability period. That generally applies for the first two years the policy is in force. Life insurance companies can investigate and contest payment of the death benefit if there is any suspicion your death was the result of an undisclosed condition, behavior, or hobby. In that case, the insurance company will refund your cumulative premium payments to your beneficiaries, but will not pay the stated death benefit.
Even if you’re beyond the two-year contestability period, the insurance company may not pay the claim if they discover evidence you were an active scuba diver when you filed your application. Since the nondisclosure constitutes insurance fraud, they’ll have legal grounds to withhold payment of the death benefit.
The best option, by far, is to disclose your scuba diving hobby on the application and pay the higher premium. If you do, the death benefit will be paid, even if the cause of death resulted from scuba diving.
You May Pay an Extra Premium for Scuba Diving Life Insurance
The insurance company will calculate your base life insurance premium, based on all the usual factors. But, so that your scuba diving hobby will also be covered, you’ll pay an additional fee with your premium. That will be calculated as X dollars per thousand dollars of coverage.
The additional fee can be anywhere from $2.50-$5.00 per $1,000 of coverage.
For example, if you take a $200,000 life insurance policy with a $500 annual base premium, and the scuba diving adjustments is set at $3.00 per thousand, you’ll pay an additional $600—for a total of $1,100—for your policy on an annual basis.
Now, exactly how much the additional premium will be depends on the type of diving you do, as well as the frequency.
Factors Affecting the Scuba Diving Premium Addition
Factors in computing the additional premium include:
- Diving frequency. The more often you dive, the higher the premium adjustment will be. If you dive less than 10 times per year, the premium adjustment will be smaller.
- Experience and certifications. Certifications can be especially important. If you receive one or more from recognized scuba diving schools or associations, you’re likely to get a lower premium adjustment. Greater experience will get stronger consideration than a more recent participant.
- Where you dive. If you generally dive in shallow water bays, the adjustment will be considerably less than if you are a more serious diver exploring caves and shipwrecks.
- Diving depth. This may be the single, most important, determining factor. If you don’t normally dive more than 100 feet, you may qualify for standard premium rates. But to the degree you exceed 100 feet, the premium adjustment will increase.
- Group or solo diving. You’re likely to get better rates if you normally dive in a group. There’s safety in numbers, especially when you are operating in an unnatural environment, like underwater.
The insurance application isn’t going to give you an opportunity to include all the details above. But they will ask you about certain high-risk hobbies, and if you properly disclose your scuba diving hobby, an insurance representative will contact you to get more detail.
Once again, be as honest as possible. If you disclose to the representative that you don’t dive below 100 feet, then you die in a scuba diving accident at 200 feet, the insurance company may not pay the claim.
How to Apply for Life Insurance for Scuba Diving
Even though scuba diving—and many other high-risk hobbies—don’t seem to be in the same category as personal health conditions when it comes to life insurance, they do create a special situation. And that requires special handling.
If you are an active scuba diver and you need life insurance, probably the worst strategy you can use is to simply make an application with a company that advertises the lowest life insurance premiums available. Consumers often make that mistake, under the assumption that a company with the lowest base rates for the best customers will have similar low rates even for applicants with special circumstances.
But, that’s almost never true. Companies that offer the lowest premiums are able to do so because they often specialize exclusively in coverage for the lowest-risk applicants. Many don’t even provide coverage if you engage in a risky hobby, which means your application will be declined.
Whether it’s a significant health condition, a dangerous occupation, or a high-risk hobby, you should work with a life insurance broker when applying for coverage.
Shopping for Life Insurance for Scuba Divers
Any situation attached to your application that makes you a little bit different will require special handling.
An insurance broker will be able to provide that service—at no additional cost to you—because they work with dozens of life insurance companies. They’ll know which companies are most likely to approve an applicant with a health condition, dangerous occupation, high-risk hobby, and many other factors.*While we make every effort to keep our site updated, please be aware that "timely" information on this page, such as quote estimates, or pertinent details about companies, may only be accurate as of its last edit day. Huntley Wealth & Insurance Services and its representatives do not give legal or tax advice. Please consult your own legal or tax adviser.