Insurance essentials for skydivers
Third party legal liability insurance & Death and critical injury insurance
Members benefit from third party legal liability insurance cover, within the limitations of the terms of the policy. For example, if you accidentally landed on someone’s car the British Skydiving insurers would be responsible for paying for repairs. The premium for this is included in the membership subscription, be it full, provisional or temporary. But what the policy doesn’t cover is medical insurance, personal accident (compensation in the event of most injuries – except for £15K death and critical injury cover from 1 April 2020), or cover for travel, equipment or baggage. Nor does the British Skydiving policy apply at wind tunnels.
Ensure you insure
Although statistics prove skydiving to be nothing like as high risk as some non-skydivers may perceive, as with any action sport, it can never be entirely risk-free. The risk is reduced to an acceptable level by strict operational procedures but can never be entirely eliminated. Skydivers must therefore voluntarily accept an element of risk, which it is common sense always to insure against.
Medical and repatriation
A number of British jumpers have been seriously injured skydiving overseas when they did not have repatriation cover. The cost and hassle of getting a seriously injured person home to a UK hospital is surely more than anyone would wish to impose on their partner, family or friends (who will already be stressed enough!). We all pay into the NHS but this won’t get you an air ambulance should you need it. These cost thousands of pounds. The whole medical and repatriation bill can be tens or even hundreds of thousands. Okay, this is a worst possible scenario but it does happen. It could happen to you.
Medical insurance cover including repatriation is the absolute minimum that any skydiver should have whilst parachuting abroad – a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) – see below is not enough! In a BPA survey, 12% of the membership had had a skydiving injury in the previous 3 years. 82% sometimes jumped abroad. How do your odds stack up, if you jump abroad without adequate insurance? Insurance should include cover for non skydiving medical emergencies too.
When travelling within Europe, it’s a good idea to get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) – the passport to free or reduced cost emergency medical treatment in most European countries. The quickest way to apply for an EHIC is online. Or apply by phone on the EHIC line: 0845 606 20 30; or pick up an application from the Post Office in the leaflet ‘Health Advice for Travellers’. (The above link to the NHS website also contains much useful advice from on health care abroad.)
Having a European Health Insurance Card means you can get free or reduced-cost medical treatment if you fall ill or have an accident while you’re in one of the European countries that it covers – be sure to check the list of countries covered. A European Health Insurance Card might also save you money by covering the excess – the first part of the claim, which you normally have to pay yourself – if you do have to claim on your insurance.
Remember that EHIC is intended to provide cover for illness and emergency medical treatment. It doesn’t cover repatriation to the UK if you have a serious skydiving or other accident and it doesn’t give longer-term cover after the immediate emergency is over – when things can get very pricey. A European Health Insurance Card is good to have and can help you out but don’t depend on it to the exclusion of a proper insurance policy, or you could end up seriously out of pocket. EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance.
Paying the bills
Personal injury insurance and life insurance
Personal accident insurance covers personal injury. (Members’ insurance provides cover of £15K for death or critical injury – but this is very limited insurance as it does not cover the most common, lesser – but potentially costly – types of parachuting injury.) Some policies make a contribution to lost earnings – say you are a taxi driver and your leg ends up in plaster. Who is going to pay your bills and those of your dependants, with no money coming in?
Some members have asked about about life insurance for skydivers. One way to find out about life insurance products that may be available to skydivers is to ask around at your local drop zone or to look on the many skydiver focused social media groups which you can search for discussion threads on the subject and find out about the experiences and views of other skydivers. Please note that British Skydiving is not responsible for the content of third party sites.
Travel, equipment and baggage
There’s also travel, baggage and equipment insurance. If you have a household policy, it may already give baggage cover or be extendable.
Single or multiple trip?
Typically, insurance is available for single or multiple trip, in various parts of the world such as Europe, USA or beyond. An annual multi-trip policy may be better value compared with a separate policy for each holiday.
Note that most general insurance policies don’t cover skydiving. Start with the skydiving and add personal accident, travel, equipment and baggage cover as required. Be wary of any offer of free travel insurance, such as for example on a credit card, as it is highly unlikely to include ‘higher risk’ activities such as skydiving.
Make a checklist and shop around
Make a checklist and go through it with the insurance company as it can be easy to forget something that later turns out to be important. Think about what is important to you and customise the checklist to your own requirements. Never be afraid to ask, however silly a question may seem. Few of us are insurance experts so if you see a jargon word or phrase, ask what it means in plain English. Getting the policy that’s right for you is your own personal responsibility, not the insurers!
The acid test of an insurance policy is when you make a claim. Find out from other skydivers about any claims they have made, how easy it has been, whether they have had problems with exclusions and so on.
Keep your policy to hand
If you do need to call on an insurance policy, remember that you may not be in a fit state. Keep your insurance details somewhere obvious, such as in your log-book holder, wallet or purse and tell others so they can find it easily in an emergency. If you are in a coma, you can’t tell anyone where it is! You might think this doesn’t bear thinking about but we can assure you that from recent experience, it’s only sensible to plan in this way. It is also worth making photocopies of all your documents to carry with you, just in case your bags are misplaced or stolen.