Scuba diving is an underwater activity enjoyed by millions of people around the world. The scenery can be spectacular and is far removed from the busy lives many of us lead above water.

However, scuba diving also comes with inherent risk. A study conducted in 1970 found that diving was 96 times more dangerous than driving1 (the current, actual risk is bound to be less nowadays due to equipment advances).

Just some of the hazards of scuba diving are:

  • Decompression sickness
  • Nitrogen narcosis
  • Failure of equipment
  • Oxygen toxicity
  • Hypothermia
  • Sharp rocks and debris
  • Danger from predators

When life insurance companies underwrite an application they not only look at your medical records, they also rate your lifestyle from health and risk perspectives. Since scuba diving has some risk to it, there are implications when it comes to getting life insurance protection.

Please note: “underwriting” refers to the investigation of an insured’s health and lifestyle. There is no underwriting for a guaranteed issue plan (which offers less coverage with more expensive premiums compared to medically underwritten plans).

Factors That Affect Underwriting

The following are main factors underwriters take into account when looking at an application from a scuba diver:

  • The age of the diver (older people are deemed to be more at risk)
  • Diving experience (including accreditation)
  • How often and how deep the dives are
  • Medical history of the applicant and any other insured
  • General lifestyle
  • Where you go diving (e.g. diving in freshwater lakes versus the ocean)
  • Type of diving activities (e.g. caves, search & rescue, etc.)
  • Is it commercial diving (requires specialized life insurance for hazardous activities)?

Application Requirements

Scuba divers must fill out a “Scuba Diving Questionnaire”, available from the insurance company (most companies have these questionnaires posted online).

How to Speed Up an Application

To avoid any undue delays make sure that you have the following information available:

  • Point form listing of the types of diving that you do. This would include locations, types of sites (e.g. wrecks, salvages, etc.) and activities (caves, ice, etc.).
  • Your experience. Include the number of years and all licenses/accreditation.
  • The frequency of your scuba diving trips.

Likely Underwriting Decisions

  • Scuba divers are either issued standard or rated policies, or they are declined.
  • Most divers that are recreational in nature are considered to have standard risks. As such they should qualify for standard rates, assuming there are no serious medical conditions at the time of application.
  • For divers that go beyond 120 feet, there is a rating, which results in a premium increase. The rating depends primarily upon the depth and your experience.
  • Divers that have cerebrovascular disease, respiratory disease, psychiatric illness or suffer from obesity are normally declined.


Scuba divers, make sure that you shop around when looking for Canadian life insurance! While the information above is generally true for all insurance companies, carriers do have differences when it comes to insuring any hazardous activity.

It is a broker’s responsibility to know these differences inside and out. Feel free to call us here at 1-800-369-4474 for a no-hassle, no-obligation consultation with a licensed Canadian insurance broker. We’re here to help!


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