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Water sports travel insurance

Planning on doing water sports on holiday? Make sure you’ve got the right cover in place.

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 activities like white-water rafting, scuba diving and jet skiing. It’s easy to forget that standard travel insurance generally doesn’t cover these sorts of activities, so make sure you’re not caught out.

There’s always a certain amount of risk where water is involved, so it’s important to have the right travel insurance in place. That way you can get medical help or recover the cost of lost equipment if you need to.

What does water sports insurance cover?

Water sports travel insurance can cover you for:

  • Injury – having the right travel insurance will mean you don’t have to pay hefty medical bills or repatriation costs if you’re injured while doing water sports 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 it includes enough cover for the cost of replacing your equipment.

Comprehensive water sports insurance can also cover the cost of legal fees and compensation if you injure someone or damage their equipment while on the water.

Does travel insurance cover water sports?

Most standard travel insurance policies generally only cover low-risk sports. If you fancy more adventurous activities, you may need to extend your cover.

It’s worth noting that every insurance provider has its own definition of high-risk, and each policy is different.

Always check what your policy covers – especially when it comes to water sports. Never assume a certain activity is covered though, no matter how low-risk it may seem.

Water sports that are typically (but not always) covered by a standard travel insurance policy include:

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

Which water sports need extra or specialist insurance cover?

It depends on the policy, so check it carefully. If your chosen sport isn’t covered under a standard travel insurance policy, check whether you can add extra protection. If not, you may want to compare policies from specialist sports insurance providers.

Even if your chosen water sport is covered as standard, you may find that conditions 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 PADI licence, or if you’re supervised by a licensed instructor and don't dive below a certain depth (usually 40 metres/130 feet)
  • Sailing – you must stay within 12 nautical miles of the shore, or pay for extra cover
  • Yachting – some policies insist you stay within a certain distance of a safe haven
  • White-water rafting – some insurance providers only cover grade one to three rapids, others cover up to grade five
  • Fishing – some insurance providers may not cover deep-sea fishing or spearfishing
  • Paragliding – many policies only cover tandem paragliding with a qualified instructor using equipment from a licensed operator
  • Windsurfing – many policies only cover you if you stay within 10 nautical miles of land (although it’s highly unlikely you’d go beyond this).

It’s most likely you’ll stay within these limits anyway, but if they don’t sound sufficient, you’ll need to look at extreme sports cover.

Frequently asked questions

Do water sports count as extreme sports?

It depends which water sports you want to do, and at what level. More dangerous activities like freediving, jet-skiing, or swimming with sharks may require specialist extreme sports cover.

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 activity is included as standard, or if you need to buy extra cover.

Adding cover for extreme sports may cost more, but 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, but check the terms to make sure there’s sufficient cover. And before signing any waivers, make sure it doesn’t invalidate your right to claim.

If you know which sports you want to do while you’re away, it may make more sense to arrange cover before you go. This gives you more chance to compare the options and find the right deal for you.

What exclusions will my policy have?

Watersports cover tends to come with some common exclusions.

Here are some to look out for:

  • Watersports under the influence - your policy will probably have a maximum limit on how much you can drink before your 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 ignored 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’re covered.

How much does water sports insurance cost?

How much you pay for your travel insurance with water sports cover will depend on a few factors, including where you’re going, your age, and your medical history.

To give you a rough idea, single-trip travel insurance for a week in Europe can cost from £6[1]. Prices for a week somewhere further flung can cost from £16[2]

[1] Based on Comparethemarket data for a single trip travel insurance policy for a 20-year-old with no pre-existing medical conditions travelling for 1 week. Prices correct as of January 2023.

[2] Based on Comparethemarket data for a worldwide travel insurance policy for a 20-year-old with no pre-existing medical conditions travelling for 1 week. Prices correct as of January 2023.

Author image Helen Phipps

What our expert says...

“It’s the adrenaline and risk that make water sports such 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 water sports insurance for any activities you have planned.”

- Helen Phipps, Insurance comparison expert

What do I need to get a quote for water sports travel insurance?

To compare 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 you’re going 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 one break, or if you’re taking several holidays.
  • What water sports or other activities you’ll need cover for

We’ll also need some details about you and anyone you want included on the policy. Insurance providers will also want to know your age, and whether you have any existing medical conditions.