Join DiveBuddy.com

Meet new scuba divers, maintain a virtual dive log, participate in our forum, share underwater photos, research dive sites and more. Members login here.

#51486
Scuba Instructor Professional Liability Insurance
Greg - 6/18/2013 12:16 PM
Category: Training
Replies: 34

What is the most affordable professional liability insurance for scuba instructors that is accepted/recognized by most certification agencies (ie: PADI, NAUI, SSI, etc.)?

What I found so far...1 year cost of liability insurance:

Vicencia & Buckley - $576 (endorsed by PADI)

Witherspoon & Associates - they said "a little under $600" (endorsed by SSI)

Willis Recreational Diving Insurance (aka: RSDIG Risk Purchasing Group) - $568 (endorsed by SDI/TDI)

Insurance Management Services - $578 ($515 if no loss for 5 years & paying by money order)

Does anyone know of another insurance company that charges less if I’m not teaching full-time, but rather teaching friends and family members only?
#1359
Subscribed
RockRat2008 - 6/18/2013 12:20 PM
I’ve just dealt with Vicencia & Buckley since I’m PADI. Good list though.
#51486
Subscribed
Greg - 6/18/2013 12:40 PM
Being "endorsed" just means that the agency recommends people to that insurance. I’m sure there is commission involved there. So technically, you can use any of the insurance companies listed above regardless of your certification agency.

Does anyone know of other, more affordable insurance companies for professional liability insurance?
#28659
Subscribed
RAWalker - 6/19/2013 12:19 AM
The only way I know to get coverage at a lower cost is to get in on a group policy.
#1200
Subscribed
Dutch - 6/20/2013 1:27 PM
I am not buying instructor insurance any more as I am long retired. I do have my dive insurance form myself to cover the big stuff though and use a German based company Aqua Med. They do offer professional insurance that meets most cert. org. standards, PADI included. Here is a link to the page for pro insurance. http://www.aqua-med.eu/en/dc-professional.html
#51486
Subscribed
Greg - 6/20/2013 1:49 PM
From Dutch: German based company Aqua Med
Their instructor liability insurance is $184 (139 Euros) and provides $4.6 Mil (3.5 Mil Euros) in coverage. I just sent them an email to see if they also insure instructors from the U.S. I also left a message for PADI to inquire about their insurance requirements OR list of carries they accept. I’ll post here when I find out more.
#28659
Subscribed
RAWalker - 6/20/2013 2:02 PM
I just got off the phone with the person who administrates the group policy I’m covered under. I was informed of a change... Professional Liability has been changed to Claims Made form from
Occurrence form. What this means is that all of us dive professionals
will be required to buy Tail Coverage upon our retirement or cancellation of
the Group Policy. Our coverage is with Witherspoon but after checking it seems that this change is taking place within all USA insurance carriers this year. Tail coverage cost less but depends on the statute of limitations for your particular state.
#51486
Subscribed
Greg - 6/20/2013 3:22 PM
I just got off the phone with a rep from PADI. She said PADI does not have a list of accepted insurance carriers, and that it can be any insurance company as long it’s professional liability insurance that covers scuba instruction. The coverage amount also doesn’t matter, but she said the normal amount starts at $1 Mil.
#51486
Subscribed
Greg - 6/20/2013 3:25 PM
From RAWalker: Professional Liability has been changed to Claims Made form from
Occurrence form
Insurance through Vicencia and Buckley has always been like that. They said I should carry my insurance for several years after I stop teaching. Sounds like a scam!
#65
SeaLionScuba - 6/20/2013 4:39 PM
You are liable for an incident up to 7 years after certification if any training deficiency can be found by the attorney. Problem is guilty or not you bear the cost of defending. PADI will pick your training records to pieces to verify Standards Compliance. They cover their caboose 1st, yours 2nd. The Aqua-Med price sounds great if it truly covers & provides defense. I would like to know more. Thank you! For "additionally insureds" I have to list 3 agencies plus state & federal entities, dive shops, pool facility...
It gets silly, everyone wants to shirttail onto the instructor’s tab.
#28659
Subscribed
RAWalker - 6/20/2013 8:50 PM
The advice I got for tailing coverage is... Check the statute of limitations for your own state. Here in AZ that is 2 years for adults and /or when a minor become an adult (age 18) you can limit your tailing coverage by not taking on minor students towards the end of you active instructing career and just referring them to a instructor who plans to continue teaching.
#51486
Subscribed
Greg - 6/21/2013 6:39 AM
Here’s an idea also...how about our lovely judicial system acknowledge that the student signed tons of papers accepting the risk...and that instructors should only be liable in GROSS negligence cases. Meaning they willfully and intentionally caused harm.
#1200
Subscribed
Dutch - 6/21/2013 7:54 AM
That would be way too logical for the judicial system Greg...
#28659
Subscribed
RAWalker - 6/21/2013 12:30 PM
Greg,

Of course you are correct in that position but we also have to be cognoscente that even being in the right you may be forced to endure years of legal wrangling and those associated costs.
#65
SeaLionScuba - 6/21/2013 1:34 PM
Checked out Aqua-Med. did not see any mention of coverage for legal defense but admittedly I could not read their details PDF page ...in German.
Almost sounds "too good to be true" including both personal dive accident ins and instructor liability for under $200 US, if that is the annual premium. But if it verifies I could be on board at renewal time.
#1200
Subscribed
Dutch - 6/21/2013 4:46 PM
In the general info is this statement: "The diving instructors liability insurance covers you against liability claims which may arise as the result of your teaching activities"

In the Conditions of Liability is this:
3. In the event of insured events in the USA / US
territories or Canada or in the event of claims
being pleaded before courts in the USA / US ter-ritories or Canada the following provisions shall
also apply:
a) Section 3 III 4 AHB notwithstanding, the insu-rer’s expenditure for costs shall be offset as
payments against the insured sums.
Costs are:
- legal costs, experts’ fees, witness expenses
and court fees

I take away from this that your legal fees are paid within the insured limits.
#1200
Subscribed
Dutch - 6/21/2013 4:47 PM
#159
TexasTed - 6/24/2013 9:29 AM
That may be great news, if the Aqua-med is real. I love to teach small groups, but I can’t justify the expense of basically $600.00 for insurance. I teach because I love diving and want other to know the joy of SCUBA. I have a company where there is risk and I don’t pay more than $1,000.00 per year for liability insurance.
#51486
Subscribed
Greg - 6/25/2013 9:04 PM
Email reply from Aqua-Med:

"The dive card professional is also valid in the USA...we have approximately 60,000 customers all over the world."

I may just give them a try.
#201
Subscribed
SDBR - 6/26/2013 6:31 PM
Hey Greg! I just renewed my insurance. It’s with Lloyds of London. Just under $600.00 a year. As far as I know, Lloyds is accepted by any agency, place, organization, country, etc.
#1200
Subscribed
Dutch - 6/26/2013 11:18 PM
Like I said, I use them and have after talking to them at Boot Dusseldorf a few years ago. They are sharp, answered all the questions quickly and clearly, are divers themselves.That said, my experience with them is as a recreational diver as I retired from active instruction in ’90.
#51486
Subscribed
Greg - 6/27/2013 6:39 AM
I just got another reply from Aqua-Med, doesn’t look like an option if you live in the USA:

"There are IMPORTANT limitations of coverage in the USA. For each incident you have to pay 10.000€ yourself. Also legal costs, experts’ fees, witness expenses and court fees will be taken of the coverage sum. So I guess, our insurance does not work out for you, sorry."
#78
Subscribed
ScubaKon - 6/30/2013 7:51 PM
OK. here is an option. How about DiveBuddy starts an instructor referral dive business (paper company), get a group policy and then we can all buy group insurance. Of course our fee would need to cover your administration cost. But if I could save even a couple hundred a year I would.
#51486
Subscribed
Greg - 7/01/2013 5:38 AM
From ScubaKon: OK. here is an option. How about DiveBuddy starts an instructor referral dive business (paper company), get a group policy and then we can all buy group insurance. Of course our fee would need to cover your administration cost. But if I could save even a couple hundred a year I would.
How would I begin the process of doing this? Would I only deal with an insurance company...or would I need to be a recognized dive shop through a scuba certification agency? I have thought about creating a scuba co-op before for the purpose of bulk pricing on books and gear, but insurance is another reason to consider it.
#1200
Subscribed
Dutch - 7/01/2013 6:08 AM
"Dear sir(s)/madame(s),

I represent a loosely organized group of instructors from around the world. Our group represents members from almost every instruction organization imaginable, I myself being a PADI/NAUI/SSI/CMAS/BsAC/OMG/WTF certified instructor. We are interested in receiving a group quote from your organization to cover out instructor liability need where ever we find ourselves in the world. Your quote should include $20,000,000,000,000 (ad infinatum) in basic liabilty, 100% legal coverage and...yadayadayada"

Any questions Greg? And anyone have any requirements they would like to add.
?
#1200
Subscribed
Dutch - 7/01/2013 6:09 AM
I wish I could type!!!

"to cover our instructor"
#65
SeaLionScuba - 7/01/2013 8:30 AM
Lol. You guys are good fun. Let us not neglect to consider;
An insurance co is a FOR PROFIT business, keeping statistics on risk factor & profitability.
Dive shops are generally given preferred treatment because they generate students who buy courses & gear - retail. It is with the power of numbers (business volume) that dive shops survive & negotiate better pricing for themselves & their staff. Dive shops that also incorporate dive schools also generate new instructors to pay more membership dues & insurance policies.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a dive shop nor do I have any desire to have one. I have studied that business math many times. It is frighteningly poor, unless the shop has a very popular dive area at hand and then I promise there will be numerous competitors there eager to cut your profits.

But getting back to topic, we -the independent (or rogue if you wish) instructors- could actually be viewed more as the commodity than the customer. The certifying agencies keep generating more & more "to replace those that retire" (hogwash). It’s to generate more dues & insurance commissions. Most dive shops see this as opportunity to abuse instructors down to negligible pay rate.

In any Group Policy the Group Organization would also bear liability with each & every member (Greg) and signed liability releases are meaningless to a hungry attorney. Win or lose, legal fees will be frightening AND the stress factor intolerable.

So as another independent instructor I offer this, my humble opinion. We chose to become teachers for the love & occasional perks of diving. Clearly NOT for the retirement plan. lol. For my part I try to generate enough students to neutralize the cost of my diving addiction. I write all this off against my real-life income as my "secondary business".

I accept the dues, insurance premiums, equipment costs, etc. as part of my recreation budget because without going diving I would lose my mind surely.

Ultimately I hope to retire to someplace tropical with fabulous shore diving (cheap) at hand. Until then I, like others sacrifice the procedes of 2-4 students annually to cost of doing business. C’est la vie!

Good diving to all!
#12418
Subscribed
Brian_V - 8/12/2013 10:22 AM
From SeaLionScuba: ...Problem is guilty or not you bear the cost of defending.

Just to give peace of mind to the dive pro’s reading this, as long as you’re insured on the date of the claim, you’re covered by your insurance for all legal expenses (See the list Dutch posted) within the limits of your coverage. It’s a whole different discussion when it comes to how protected you are by liability release forms, you’d be surprised by what little weight they carry in the eyes of the courts/judges.
#159
Subscribed
adimitris - 7/01/2014 7:54 AM
My insurance is due, and I am trying to compare. It is very frustrating, as some of you have pointed out, that they charge us the same whether we are just certifying a family member/friend on rare occasion, or churning out students on a weekly basis. My insurance for dive liability costs more than any other insurance i have to pay, and as one of you said, if any incident arises, our agencies are looking to protect themselves first.

I am waiting for a return phone call from Willis. Have any of you used it? How does it compare with V&B? I wish we could at least pay monthly instead of annually.

I do like your idea of a group policy for all of us here!

And by the way, to the guy who said you want to retire somewhere with cheap shore diving, come to south Florida. Your only daily cost is the meters, and if you buy an apartment on the beach, you even waive that. Then you just have to pay for inspections of your gear and tanks each year or so. Let me know if you want to come visit and I will show you. If you want ot see photos, give me your email address and I will mail you some.

Ariane
#159
Subscribed
adimitris - 7/01/2014 8:18 AM
I wrote to V&B asking about a potential group policy for us. I will let you know when they reply.
#28659
Subscribed
RAWalker - 7/01/2014 11:32 AM
You can forget V&B unless you are registered with PADI as a Op or Shop and have a business zoned address. I couldn’t get them to cover the instructors of my club which is a local, state and federally registers LLC. We ended up affiliating with a dive shop which lets us pay into their group. We use Witherspoon.
#104
Subscribed
BubblesLeb - 10/01/2015 3:11 AM
Did anybody had any experience with Dive Master Insurance ?
divemasterinsurance.com/
It looks like their quotes are very competitive.
#980
Subscribed
Diver_Down - 2/06/2016 1:57 PM
So, it’s been more than two years since the original post was made by Greg. How many of you have changed companies? If you did, why and who did you chose? Currently I’m without a policy because I haven’t been doing any DM work, but will be needing insurance before summer hits.
#51486
Subscribed
Greg - 2/07/2016 11:11 AM
I haven’t been teaching lately...but I just noticed you can purchase a couple months worth of insurance from Vicencia & Buckley rather than the whole year. So if you only want to teach for a few months out of the year...you can buy insurance for around $120.