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Personal liability insurance

Discussion in 'Scuba Related Court Cases' started by vjongene, Nov 14, 2017.

  1. vjongene

    vjongene Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Willemstad, Curaçao
    I am a divemaster working occasionally (1-2 days a week) for a local dive shop in the Caribbean. I am an active PADI Pro member. I do primarily guided dives, and occasionally assist on DSDs. I am not a shop employee, and do not receive compensation other than tips and free air fills. About half of the customers I take on dives are from the US.

    My wife and I are retired, and have fairly substantial retirement savings, mostly invested in the US. We are becoming concerned that if things go pear shaped during one of the dives I guide, I could be sued by a disgruntled diver and risk losing most or all of our savings. While I am not a US resident, and the shop is not located in the US, I am concerned about reach-through legislation and the fact that our investments are located in the US. Local courts are unlikely to award substantial damages even in cases of clear liability, and unsympathetic to claims of emotional distress and the like. The shop has solid liability insurance, but I don't know if they would cover personal liability for their instructors and DMs.

    I am thinking of getting personal liability insurance such as proposed by Vicencia & Buckley for PADI professionals. I would appreciate any thoughts on whether this is a worthwhile investment, given the cost (about $380 annually) and the objective risk of being sued.

    Thanks already!
  2. Wookie

    Wookie ScubaBoard Business Sponsor Staff Member ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    Your risk of being sued is small but real. If your personal assets are not protected by a trust or some other protection scheme, they are at risk exactly as you say. However, you can't lead dives or be in active status in the USA/Caribbean as a PADI pro at any level without liability insurance. So you are hanging out anyway if you are leading dives. If you are counting on someone else's insurance to protect you, we'll, you're also counting on someone else to act in your best interest, maybe not in their best interest. That would be the dive shop.

    Personally, if your assets are substantial enough, I would consider putting them in trust for a number of reasons, as long as you plan to keep your wife. That will protect your assets (you won't have any) and there are a number of tax and healthcare reasons.

    CGOUGHN Angel Fish

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Germany
    When I was in the Caribbean, I was covered by my shop but also kept DAN World for Professionals as something on the side in case the shop decided to drop me. It's far less expensive than V&B, but, every time I've needed DAN, they've been there to take care of me. I'm currently in Europe and still use DAN Europe for my Professional Liability Insurance.
    ScubaToneDog likes this.
  4. ScubaToneDog

    ScubaToneDog Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Cleveland Ohio
    Better to have it and not need it, than to not have it and need it.
  5. John Bantin

    John Bantin Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: London

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