Water sports travel insurance

Why buy water sports travel insurance?

Water sports travel insurance gives you specialist cover if you're heading away on an adventure that’s likely to feature sports and activities like white-water rafting, scuba diving and jet skiing. These sorts of pursuits are often beyond the cover offered by standard policies.

Where water is involved, there’s a certain amount of risk, so it’s important to have the right travel insurance in place.


A travel traffic light system has been introduced for international travel. From 19 July 2021, trips to green and amber listed countries are legally permitted if you live in England and Scotland. However, you’ll still need to fulfil any pre-departure requirements, such as testing. If you live in Wales and Northern Ireland, you still need to follow the rules for your relevant local authority.

If a country is on the green or amber list, you still need to check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through. This is to ensure you’re aware of any specific requirements relating to entry and to check travellers from the UK are permitted. Countries can have their traffic light status changed at short notice and you should take this into consideration when looking to travel. Please check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice for the latest information.

The FCDO currently advises against all but essential travel to red listed countries. Should you choose to travel against the FCDO rules, you will not be covered by any travel insurance policy you purchase. Some providers do offer cover for international travel if you’re travelling for essential purposes, however most do not. In all cases, should you have any queries please check the policy wording or contact your chosen provider before purchasing to ensure the cover meets your needs.

Travel within England, Scotland and Wales is permitted under the current guidelines. However, public health rules and lockdown restrictions continue to vary, including entry restrictions for Northern Ireland. Check the latest guidance from the official tourism boards for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions

Our panel includes insurance providers who quote cover for all medical conditions declared on our website, with no exclusions.

The Money and Pensions Service (MaPs) has launched a directory of insurance providers on its Money Advice Service website that may be able to provide quotes over the phone, if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at the Money Advice Service or by calling the British Insurance Brokers’ Association on 0370 950 1790.

What does water sports insurance cover?

Water sports travel insurance offers you the right level of cover in the event of an injury. It can give you peace of mind that your valuable equipment is covered, should anything go wrong.

It could cover you for:

  • Injury. Having the right travel insurance in place could cover you for hefty medical bills, or even repatriation, if you’re injured doing water sports activities whilst on holiday.
  • Equipment. Most insurance policies will cover your baggage up to a certain value. But if you’re transporting expensive water-skis or surfboards, the standard cover limit might not be enough. When choosing a policy, make sure the protection offered is enough to cover the cost of replacing your equipment.

Comprehensive water sports insurance could also include cover for legal fees and third-party compensation in case you injure another person, or damage their equipment while out on the water.

Which water sports are covered in a standard travel insurance policy?

Most standard travel insurance policies only cover low-risk sports, so they may not be adequate for those with a taste for more adventurous activities.

It’s also worth noting that every insurance provider is different. They each have their own definition of ‘high-risk’, and they don’t all cover the same things in their standard policies.

According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, only 12% of travellers read all of their insurance documents. But it’s vital you check what you’re covered for, especially when it comes to water sports.

Water sports that are typically covered by a standard travel insurance policy include:

  • Swimming
  • Surfing
  • Stand-up paddle boarding
  • Snorkelling
  • Water-skiing
  • Rowing

Never assume a certain activity is covered though, no matter how low-risk it may seem. Always have a good read through your policy documents, to be sure you’ll be covered if you’re planning to participate in a particular sport.

What water sports may need extra or specialist water sports insurance cover?

If your chosen sport isn’t covered under a standard travel insurance policy, check whether extra cover can be added. If not, it may be worth comparing specialist sports insurance providers who offer specific cover for water sports.

Even if your chosen water sport is covered as standard, conditions may apply. For example:

  • jet-skiing – you’ll need to abide by local water safety rules.
  • scuba diving – many policies only cover you if you have an open water licence from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). Or if you dive under the supervision of a licensed instructor and you don't dive below a certain depth (usually 130 feet).
  • sailing – you must stay within 10-12 nautical miles of the shore.
  • yachting – you must be within 60 miles of a safe haven.
  • white-water rafting – some providers will only cover grade one to three rapids. Others may cover up to grade five.
  • fishing – some insurance providers won’t cover deep sea fishing or spear fishing.
  • paragliding – only covers tandem paragliding with a licensed instructor using equipment from a licensed operator.
  • windsurfing – only covers you if you stay within 10 nautical miles of land.

Some water sports are considered extreme, for insurance purposes. If your chosen sport sits in this category, you might need to look at extreme sports cover to get the level of protection you need.

Frequently asked questions

Do water sports count as extreme sports?

It depends which water sports you want to do, and at what level. You may need specialist extreme sports cover for more dangerous activities like freediving, jet-skiing or swimming with sharks. And there’s a big difference between kayaking on a calm lake and taking on a grade five white-water river.

Check your policy carefully to see if your activities are included as standard, or if you need to buy additional cover.

Although it may well cost you more to add extra cover for extreme sports, the risks involved mean the likelihood of a claim is higher, so it could be worth it for peace of mind.

Can I buy cover for water sports on the day?

Some water sports providers offer insurance on the day as part of the package. But check the terms carefully to make sure the cover is adequate and look out for any exclusions. Also, before you sign any waivers, make sure it won’t invalidate your right to claim.

If you already have a plan of what sports you want to do, it may make more sense to arrange cover before you go. That will allow you to compare your options and find the best deal for you.

What about water sports and insurance exclusions?

As well as some activities and water sports being exempt altogether, there are some common exclusions to look out for with your water sports cover:

  • Watersports under the influence. Your policy will likely set a maximum limit on the alcohol you can drink before a claim becomes invalid. It may exclude claims where alcohol or drugs are thought to have impaired your judgement.
  • Failing to obey safety instructions. If you’re injured because you’ve chosen to ignore the safety instructions of the guides or water sports operators, you won’t be able to claim. This also applies if you don’t wear the correct safety gear.
  • Age limits. Some policies apply age limits for certain activities. Check the policy wording carefully, to make sure you’ll be covered.

Other things to consider when comparing water sports insurance

You could buy single trip insurance for just one holiday. But if you have more than one adventure planned in a year, it’s worth considering annual travel insurance, which often works out cheaper than multiple single policies.

If you’re travelling for more than 60 consecutive days, backpacker’s travel insurance can cover you for a longer spell away, in multiple countries.

Where are you going?

When you compare travel insurance, you’ll need to confirm your destination. Europe is a popular choice for water sports, but you’ll need a different policy if you’re going to the USA or more exotic locations.

How many people are going?

You can buy travel cover just for you, or you could buy it as a couple, a family or a group, to see if you can save some money.

How’s your health?

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it could affect your cover. You must inform your insurance provider of any medical conditions, so they can give you an accurate quote with the right level of cover.

If you don’t tell your insurance provider and you have a medical emergency that’s linked to a pre-existing condition or injury, they may refuse to pay out.

Compare water sports travel insurance

When comparing water sports policies, read all the details thoroughly before making a choice. Jet-skiing might be covered, but if you decide to do deep sea fishing on a whim, that may not be.

We make comparing travel insurance quick and easy. Find the right policy to suit your needs and start planning your water-based adventures, with the peace of mind that you have cover in place.

Josh Daniels

From the Travel team

“When it comes to water sports, it’s the adrenaline and risk that can make them so fun. Accidents do happen though, and medical bills abroad can be huge. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’ve got the right cover for any water sports you have planned.”

What do I need to get a quote?

To start comparing travel insurance quotes for you, we’ll need to know:

  • Where you’re going. You’ll need different cover depending on whether you’re going to the UK, Europe or further afield.  
  • How long for. Is it a short holiday or are you off on a six-month backpacking adventure? 
  • Single trip or multi trip? Consider if you want to cover a single trip, or if you’re looking to cover several holidays over a certain time period. 
  • What water sports or other activities you’ll need cover for? 

We’ll also need to know a bit about you and any other people you want to include on the policy, including your age, and details of any existing medical conditions you may have.