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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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September 2001 Vol. 27, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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When a Grouper Eats Your Computer

... there ’s insurance to cover it

from the September, 2001 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

On a dive trip last year, one of our readers flooded his digital camera and housing. The Divers Equipment Protection Plan (DEPP) that insured him paid for cleaning and testing the housing. It also replaced the camera with a newer, more expensive model, since the model destroyed had been discontinued.

Debbie Lewis, of Chicago, IL, had her locked luggage broken into while flying on TACA. Her brand-new women’s Dacor wetsuit; retail value $139, was missing. After the airline balked at replacing it, Deb told us that DEPP replaced it with the next, newer model within a week.

What’s the value of all the dive gear you travel with, including those expensive cameras? To replace it would be a major hurt, wouldn’t it? Nearly every diver we have talked to tells us that DEPP provides excellent coverage at a reasonable price. However, before we tell you more about DEPP, consider your other options.

PADI and two DAN diver insurance plans cover gear lost or damaged because of a dive accident. However, even the most generous accident policy will pay no more than $2,500 for covered gear losses.

As a homeowner or renter, your insurance policy may cover loss or theft of dive gear at locations other than your home. However, will your policy replace gear at its current cost? Many reimburse only the depreciated value, which doesn’t mean much for a five-year-old regul ator. And, your policies may have a deductible value, so they will only reimburse you for losses above a $500 or $1,000 threshold, for example.

If you recently charged your equipment, or even the trip, to a credit card, you may be covered for short periods up to modest limits. For example, American Express cards come with a Purchase Protection Plan that covers items purchased with the card for 90 days after purchase, up to $1,000 per occurrence, $50,000 per card member per policy year. Read your cardholder benefit statement. Clarify any uncertainties by calling your insurance agent or credit card customer service center.

Dive equipment insurance that is secondary to homeowner’s , renter’s and credit card benefits, can be purchased through companies such as Access America and Travel Guard. (Secondary means you must first apply to your primary insurer). Bundled typically with trip cancellation protection, these policies cover up to $1,000 of losses related to loss, theft or damage. Understand the particulars to avoid unpleasant surprises. For example, the practical effect of Travel Guard coverage is that if they steal your $1,500 camera from your hotel room, don’t expect to see more than a $500 reimbursement.

Then there is DEPP, which is administered by Aw ry Enterprises, in Louisville, KY. DEPP standard plans range from $2,000 worth of coverage for $30/year, up to $20,000 worth of coverage for $270/year. They have a $25 deductible, per occurrence. You can purchase additional coverage for $10/year per $1,000 increment, with a surcharge of 4 percent on items worth more than $5,000, such as rebreathers and photo equipment. Sandy Hall, vice president of Aw ry Enterprises, told Undercurrent that they have about $20 million of equipment under coverage. One European diver currently insures $80,000 worth of diving equipment.

DEPP policies cover gear loss, breakage, damage and theft worldwide. You submit an itemized list of equipment, but if you forget anything — even that automatic inflator on your BC — it won’t be covered. And, don’t expect cash reimbursement. The company, at its option, will either repair or replace your gear.

One European diver currently insures
$80,000 worth of diving equipment.

You can add coverage for those frustrating and expensive camera floodings. This carries a deductible of 10 percent of the cost, not to exceed $250. The price is 4 percent of the value of your photographic gear, plus a 4 percent surcharge on more than $5,000. Flooded photographic gear will need to be shipped to a DEPP receiving center within five days of the accident to avoid a penalty. However, Hall assured Undercurrent that they accommodate divers whose problems occur while they’re in a remote location where prompt return isn’t feasible.

Another diver, Davida Hinton made three camera-related claims within the first year. “A flooded sync cord and strobe, was repaired for $328, with my deductible being just 10 percent. Likewise for my Sea & Sea MMII EX-Pro that sustained chassis damage while on a dive boat, was about a $300 tab. All three repair facilities I’ve been referred to have been very good to exceptional. Dealing with the people at DEPP and the repair facilities they use has been a pleasure.”

As you might imagine, some unusual claims get submitted. Hall told us of one diver who flooded his brand new housing. Upon inspection, the repair facility found there were no o-rings anywhere in it. The diver thought that the case was already equipped with o-rings and never inserted what he thought were “backup” o-rings that accompanied the case.

Then there is the diver who flooded his Nikonos, which DEPP repaired. The next time diving, he returned to the surface with his Nikonos again flooded. Someone on the boat remembered seeing him put a roll of film into his BC pocket. Seems that after he shot up a roll of film, he had been popping open the back of his camera underw ater and replacing the spent roll with a fresh one.

Both divers, Hall said, had their errors covered.

One diver we talked with, however, was unhappy with the policy and stopped his coverage. “About two years ago in Baja the car was stolen along with all my equipment. I split the claim between my homeowner’s and DEPP. Within a week, I settled with my home insurer. It took DEPP at least two weeks to decide whether they would even honor the claim since I had no police report. After six months, I received most of the items less my personal wetsuit. They tried to match exactly what I listed. Some of their vendors did have the items in stock, but they held delivery until the unstocked items came in to save on shipping. I ended up with fins with too-small foot pockets and weight belts five sizes too big. They replaced my vintage Nikonos II with a 28-mm lens and bracket with a Nikonos III minus lens and brackets (I only listed the camera on my application — didn ’t say lens). The total claim was for $2,500.”

Yes, for a loss to be reimbursed, you must have listed the component. In this diver’s case, his failure to obtain a police report of the theft clearly hindered his claim. To prove a loss, when a formal police report is unobtainable, a notarized letter from hotel security or a dive operator, for example, may be accepted. If you accidentally drop a piece of insured equipment while diving, and it cannot reasonably be retrieved, obtain documentation such as a letter from the dive boat captain. Of course, the company expects policyholders to take reasonable steps to protect their gear. If your gear is lifted after you’ve left it in your unlocked car during a Bonaire shore dive, don’t anticipate a successful claim. For more information, contact:

DEPP: 760-674- 8655/888-678-4096

PADI: 714-739-3177/800-223-9998.

Access America: . 800-284-8300.

Travel Guard: 800-826-1300.

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