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Dive In
Deep Under Covered?
insurance liability for dive
operations is complex
when mixed with training
agency recommendations
and no set law for diving.
in a BLUE special report,
we look at why it’s vital to
check the small print before
unknowingly getting into
deep water with no cover.
By Charlotte Boan
even to the most logical mind, insurance can be a dense forest of reached in initial training. and also, not be based on one agency’s
small print, sub-clauses, ambiguous conditions and grey zones where recommendations alone. then there has to be a clear distinction they
it’s easy to get lost. Diving is an industry which requires each diver say between an agency scuba standard and a recommendation.
to have insurance, either in a professional or recreational type, and
for the dive centre, operation and boat to hold its own cover too
for guests and employees. and that’s not to mention the centre’s
‘How can you tell a PADI open water
standard business insurance. qualified diver with 500 logged dives
and years of experience that they are not
insurance is essential. We all need cover, whether we are a
professional or someone in the hands of one. particularly in an
allowed to dive deeper than 18m, when an
activity where there is a risk, no matter how small, of injury or worse.
Advanced Open Water with ten dives can?’
However, as diving activities are so diverse and complex, do we really
know where our insurance cover begins and ends?
‘How can you tell a paDi open Water qualified diver with 500 logged
a real insurance confusion lies in the depth issue. on each early stage dives and years of experience that they are not allowed to dive
of training, no matter what agency, there is a depth limit for the deeper than 18m, when an advanced open Water with ten dives
course. this is the case for all technical dive training as well. can?’ a red sea-based dive operation manager explained. ‘paDi does
But what about those divers wishing to gradually extend their depth not stipulate a maximum depth for a qualified open water diver other
once qualified? there is no rule, law or regulation, for example, that than that of the recognised recreational limit.’
says a paDi open Water diver cannot dive deeper than 18m following
his or her course. Camel Dive Club centre manager simone pelucchi said he contacted
Dan europe insurance head office to be told there was maximum
A centre/operation basically could be seen as
depth coverage of 18m for qualified paDi open Water divers. it was
negligent for taking these divers below 18m.
also explained to him that if the open water divers failed to follow a
briefing from the dive centre guide about a maximum depth of 18m
while diving with them, then the dive centre would certainly not be
the worry of dive centres and operations is that some open water at fault.
divers are more than capable of diving below 18m, however, trade
liability insurance may become null and void if something were However, when BLUE approached Dan europe to find out the exact
to happen to the diver even if depth was not causal factor in an depth conditions, a spokesman told us – after a number of attempts
incident. a centre/operation basically could be seen as negligent for to get a clear answer - that ‘basically, no, Dan’s insurance doesn’t have
taking these divers below 18m. this is not the case in all insurance, as depth limits counted in meters.’
some dive centres are covered for all diving activities no matter the
qualification to recreational dive limits of up to 50m. ‘negligence here applies as a concept,’ the Dan europe spokesman
explained. ‘in this case a dive centre would be considered negligent
With major insurers where depth is an issue which could affect only if the centre was aware that by taking divers to below 18m
liability, even these policy conditions are open to interpretation. it’s a the centre would be exposing its clients to a degree of reasonable
minefield, and one that businesses supplying diving services need to danger, which is above the norm. Hence there would be an element
be clear on before unintentionally breaking their insurance cover. of recklessness. this does not, however, mean that centres would
be negligent if they took their clients to below 18m as the same
many centre mangers in the diving industry feel insurance should principle would apply even for dives above the 18m mark. in any
take into account experience of divers, not what depth they have case, it is important to keep in mind that negligence is insurable. it
issue 2 august / september 2009
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