Travel insurance (or insurance in general) is often an afterthought for me when planning for a trip, let alone thinking about if my travel insurance covers snorkeling. But, I would say that making sure that I have the appropriate coverage while traveling and enjoying activities like snorkeling is hugely important to me, just in case the unexpected should happen.
Once I got serious about both traveling and snorkeling, I had to do a lot of research to sort out what insurance I actually want, what companies are best, and ultimately just to answer the question at hand.
Does travel insurance cover snorkeling? Snorkeling and scuba diving are often excluded from travel medical insurance plans, and you would need to choose a plan with a travel insurance company which explicitly states that these activities are covered by their product.
That means, if I happen to pick a travel insurance plan that does not cover snorkeling and I end up somehow being injured in the water, I may well be 100% responsible for all of the medical costs related to that incident, which could reach in to the tens-of-thousands or hundreds-of-thousands of dollars, depending on the incident, location and other factors.
Snorkeling is generally considered to be a very safe activity when done correctly, but the world is a crazy place and injuries can happen when doing anything. I’ve found that it’s just better to pick a travel insurance plan that specifically covers what I’ll be doing on my trip so I can have better peace of mind and just enjoy my time in the water.
Let’s run through the 3 most important things I want to know about insurance while traveling, and how to make sure that I can pick a travel insurance plan that covers snorkeling.
One of the first questions I had was whether or not my normal medical insurance would cover any issues that came up while snorkeling. The answer is a little complicated.
Generally, if I were to be injured doing just about anything within the United States (as an American citizen with U.S. health insurance), my injuries would be covered subject to the terms of my insurance plan. So, if I were to get hurt snorkeling in Hawaii or Florida, it would be treated just like if I tripped and fell at home and I would have the same coverage, co-pays, deductibles, etc. as I would normally (I know, if you’re from outside the U.S., these terms probably seem foreign to you).
I always recommend verifying with your insurance company exactly how this would work by calling them directly before any surprises come up, but often, this is how it works domestically.
Once I start traveling internationally, though, all bets could be off. Many U.S.-based health insurance plans even including Medicare or Medicaid typically cover little or nothing while you are abroad [source], and international medical costs can definitely add up.
For example, if I were injured seriously enough somewhere that I needed to be evacuated to a city or country with a more advanced health care system to be treated, the cost for the transportation alone can range anywhere from $20,000 to $220,000 [source]. And that doesn’t even include the cost of the medical treatment itself.
So, unless you’re certain that your regular medical insurance has all of the international benefits that you need (mine definitely does not), specific travel insurance that covers medical expenses while out of the country is something to consider.
There exist a lot of different types of travel insurance. Some, often known as trip delay or cancellation insurance, only apply if you incur some extra costs as a result of a problem causing your trip to be delayed or cancelled. Some cover damage to luggage or items that you’re carrying while traveling, which can be really helpful if you travel with expensive laptops, camera gear, etc. Still other products cover medical expenses resulting from injuries while traveling and/or medical evacuation, which is what we’re most interested in here.
On the positive side, most travel insurance plans that cover medical expenses often do cover things like baggage loss/damage or trip delays as well. But, less positively, many travel insurance plans specifically do not cover things like snorkeling or scuba diving, grouping them into categories like “water sports” or even “extreme sports” that are specifically excluded from coverage.
But, this isn’t the case for all travel insurance companies or plans; I just have to know how to find the right ones. This isn’t always easy, though, since sometimes figuring out if snorkeling is covered requires rooting through plan legal documents or finding the right person to call at the company. So, be glad that I’ve already done that here. 🙂
I’ve used a lot of different travel insurance companies over the years, and after learning how to make sure that any travel insurance I choose actually does cover snorkeling (or scuba diving), two companies have proven themselves to be the best for me.
If I live pretty much anywhere in the world, am under 70 (and everyone in my coverage group is under 70) and like to be more adventurous during my travels, World Nomads Travel Insurance is the option I return to trip after trip.
World Nomads definitely does explicitly cover snorkeling and scuba diving, and those are actually two of the tamer things that they can cover. I find it tough to do something wild enough that if I was injured during it (check out what they can cover here), World Nomads wouldn’t cover it. That makes active or even downright adventurous travel a lot easier for me.
World Nomads in particular is really popular with world travelers, backpackers, digital nomads, and plenty of other groups who travel and snorkel a lot. They even have coverage for pregnant women, which can be dang tough to find elsewhere. World Nomads does free automatic quotes online, which has been super easy for me, so I always pull one before I travel to help me make my decision (and I typically go with them because their price compared to all of the activities that they cover is pretty impressive in my opinion).
Allianz Travel Insurance
Or, if I am a U.S. resident and happen to be over 70 (or have someone in my group whom I want to cover who is over 70) and for that reason aren’t able to use World Nomads, I like Allianz Travel Insurance.
I’ve used Allianz before when it better fit our travel group’s profile, and it worked out great for us. I did have to contact them directly beforehand to ask about snorkeling and scuba diving, but a representative did confirm that any issues that might come up during these activities, assuming that they were done in a safe manner so as to not make it an extreme or high risk activity (e.g., diving below depths of 60 feet or without a divemaster), are covered under their travel medical plans.
With that out of the way, the coverage on their travel medical plans is excellent for me (especially their higher-tier plans, which really don’t cost much more) and I’ve widely seen them receive high marks for customer service and ease of claims processing.
Allianz also does automatic online quotes and only needs a few pieces of information from me (age, travel dates, destinations, state of residence and total trip cost) to generate one. If you or any member of your covered group are over 70, Allianz is an option.
World Nomads and Allianz Travel Insurance are both options depending on which age group you fall into, but there’s certainly more to picking the right travel insurance for me. For example, different plans cover different things at different amounts, and there are also extra travel benefits tied in which have nothing to do with medical coverage (like trip cancellation insurance, which can be nice).
So, check out our other article, Travel Insurance That Covers Snorkeling & Scuba, for more detailed information on each as well as the different plans at each provider. It can seem like a lot to sort out, but I’ve been happy when using my own methods, so hopefully they can be of some use to you as well.
Travel insurance in general is a great way to protect yourself from injury expense or even just inconvenience, but there are a few “gotchas” of which you should be aware. This list is by no means comprehensive, but keep these items in mind as you look at travel insurance.
- Most travel insurance plans will not provide coverage if you travel to a destination listed on your government’s travel restriction list (in the United States, it’s from the U.S. State Department). The warning level at which your insurance may become invalid is usually pretty high, but might differ between insurance providers. So, always check directly with that company.
- If you travel often, it’s usually most cost efficient to buy an annual plan instead of a single-trip plan. Three trips in a year is usually the magic number for when this becomes more cost efficient [source], and both Allianz (annual) and World Nomads (six months) have long-term versions of their plans available.
- Each travel medical insurance provider’s list of extreme or dangerous activities that might preclude your coverage differs from company to company, so always make sure you are 100% certain that your provider covers a certain activity before you buy a plan from them.
- If you end up in a situation where you or one of your co-insureds (like a spouse you are traveling with who is also covered on your plan) is injured and it isn’t dangerous to take the time to call the insurance company before seeking treatment, definitely call the company first. They’ll be able to help direct you to do everything needed to make sure that you can later be reimbursed through your coverage without issue. This is also particularly important if you need to utilize your medical evacuation benefits. Generally, most travel insurance companies say that if time is of the essence for someone’s well being, make medical care your first priority, but it’s always good to understand their policies before your trip.
- Many travel medical insurance plans do actually cover preexisting conditions, but this can vary from company to company. So, make sure that you ask specific questions about this before purchasing a plan if this is a concern.
The Deep Dive
There are a lot of factors that go into finding good travel insurance in general, and it gets even more complicated when I add in activities like snorkeling or scuba diving. But, once I learned what to look for and narrow down my options, I think good plans for me do exist.
Now that I know more so how travel insurance works in general and as it relates to snorkeling and scuba diving, I personally won’t travel without the right plan anymore. There’s just too much at stake, and I won’t take the risk of never being able to snorkel again because of some sort of financial or physical problem that could have been avoided with the correct coverage. It’s an easy decision for me.
I’ve felt good about using World Nomads or Allianz to make sure that snorkeling and whatever else I’m doing is covered, and getting a quote from World Nomads for my regular trips and another quote from Allianz when I have older family members in my group is something I always do before any snorkel trip.
More information on World Nomads and Allianz Travel Insurance:
Or, learn more about travel insurance that covers snorkeling, like what it costs, what the plans are, and plenty else below: