Sun, sand and great waves – what more can you ask for when you travel? While Australia’s beaches are internationally renowned, there are many more island paradises with great waves to experience around the world from Hawaii to Costa Rica to one of Australia’s favourite travel destinations: Bali.
If you’re an experienced surfer or beach-lover who wants to give the sport a try while you’re travelling, you’ll want to purchase travel insurance that includes cover for surfing. The right surf travel insurance can provide cover for unexpected medical bills, cancellation costs and your luggage (including your surfboard) should your belongings become lost, stolen or damaged.
There are various surfing travel insurance policies you can find online, but finding a simple explanation of what benefits will be relevant to your surf trip may not be as easy. Fast Cover has put together this surf travel insurance guide to help you choose a policy for your surfing holiday.
Top 5 reasons surfers should consider surf travel insurance:
- Reef cuts.
- Injuries from being dumped by a wave.
- Collisions with other surfers.
- Emergency evacuation by helicopter, plane, boat or road from remote beaches.
- Lost, stolen and broken personal and other surf gear.
Is surfing automatically covered by travel insurance?
Fast Cover automatically provides cover for surfing up to two nautical miles off any land mass^.
However, not all travel insurance companies provide the same cover or include the same activities. You can find out if surfing is covered in a policy by reading the company’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).
Can anyone buy cover for surfing?
Fast Cover provides travel insurance to Australians up to the age of 100 and cover for surfing is automatically included~. That means, unless you are subject to an exclusion (such as a pre-existing medical condition that isn’t covered), you can be provided with cover for surfing.
When deciding on a travel insurance policy, be sure to check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to understand whether or not you will be covered. Some travel insurers may have exclusions which would exclude you from cover for surfing. For example, a travel insurance company may not provide cover for surfing if:
- You have a pre-existing medical condition which could be exacerbated by surfing (such as a physical injury).
- You are surfing in an area that is listed as ‘do not travel’ on Smartraveller.
- You are over a particular age limit set by the travel insurance company for the policies they offer, or for the activities they may provide cover for.
Why do I need travel insurance for surfing?
Surfing, while exhilarating and fun, is not an entirely risk-free activity, regardless of how experienced a surfer is. Even travellers who take necessary precautions and act responsibly can experience an emergency in the waves. That’s why it’s important to find a policy that provides cover for surfing in case something goes wrong.
If you experience an injury related to surfing while travelling, surf travel insurance can help you with Emergency Assistance and the unexpected expenses such as hospital bills and the cost of medical consultations. Surf travel insurance can also provide assistance such as:
- Organising your transfer to another hospital.
- Organising your medical evacuation back to Australia with a medical escort
- Finding a translator.
- Informing your relatives and workplace about what has occurred.
- Providing guidance during an emergency to better ensure your safety and that you have what you need to make a travel insurance claim.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has documented case studies on their website highlighting why travel insurance is essential for travelling.
Does surf travel insurance cover medical emergencies?
Accidents and illnesses can happen anywhere. Some common risks travellers going surfing can experience include:
- Minor or serious reef cuts.
- Emergency evacuation from a remote area due to an injury such as breaking an arm or leg.
- Spinal injuries.
- Dengue fever or malaria, which is present across a number of island surf locations.
- Infection developing from minor reef cuts.
There’s also the more uncommon accidents that can occur while travelling, from being involved in a car accident to shark attacks, like the recent incident with surfer Mick Fanning in South Africa.
Surf travel insurance can provide cover for emergency costs and connect you to an emergency assistance team that can provide you with advice and assist in organising medical assistance.
Casey was enjoying a surfing retreat holiday in Oahu in Hawaii when he was dumped on a wave close out, knocking him off the board and dislocating his shoulder.
He was brought back in to the beach by a lifeguard and his arm put into a brace before being rushed to hospital by ambulance. Casey was given pain medication so his shoulder could be put back into place.
Unfortunately the doctor advised a period of rest which meant no more surfing on the trip for Casey. He was also hit with the bill for his medical transport and treatment which came to a total cost of over $4,000 AUD.
If Casey had purchased Comprehensive travel insurance, he would be able to put a claim in for the ambulance cost and hospital bill as well as reimbursement for the unused portion of his prepaid travel arrangements.
Does surf travel insurance cover emergency evacuations from remote beaches?
If you are seriously injured while surfing, you may require an emergency evacuation to the nearest hospital by transport such as:
You may also require repatriation, or an emergency flight back home to Australia for medical care.
Look for a surf travel insurance policy that includes cover for repatriation so that you have the confidence of knowing, should you need emergency transport, you’ll have an emergency assistance provider who can arrange it and you’ll have cover for the costs.
Does surf travel insurance cover cancellation expenses?
There’s a number of reasons you might have to unexpectedly cancel your surfing trip, from getting sick or injured before the day of the flight to having a close relative becoming unexpectedly hospitalised.
Some popular surfing destinations are also subject to natural disasters. For example, Bali had several volcanic eruptions in 2015 and 2016 which caused the cancellations of hundreds of flights in and out of the country.
Without travel insurance for surfing in place, you could lose any deposits you’ve already paid for your holiday, including the costs of flights, hotel accommodation, tours or rental vehicles.
Does travel insurance cover my surfing equipment & gear getting damaged, lost or stolen?
There can be nothing worse than taking your valuables overseas and having them lost, stolen or damaged. The best way to avoid this happening is to leave any valuables you can do without at home. You may want to consider if you really need to take your laptop, tablet, phone, camera and Go Pro, or will your phone suffice for the trip?
Surf travel insurance can provide cover for your luggage, including surfboards^ and a whole range of other items you may be taking on your surf trip.
The amount of cover you’ll be provided with can vary between insurers. Remember to check which items are included and the sub-limits and exclusions that apply for specific items so that your belongings will be covered if something goes missing or become damaged while you’re travelling.
Remember, surf travel insurance may not automatically provide cover for damage to surfboards while in transit – that may be the responsibility of the airline.
Report thefts within 24 hours to the nearest police station or your hotel, tour company or transport provider, and always ask for a copy of the report.
Read your surf travel insurance policy to find out more.
Surf trip items that could be covered:
Does travel insurance cover rented surfing equipment?
Rented equipment may not be covered by your travel insurance policy. If you’re planning on renting a surfboard, check to see if this is included.
If it is not included but surfing is covered in the policy, that means you will be covered if you become injured while surfboarding but if the board becomes damaged, lost, or stolen then you may be required to pay the replacement costs to the person you rented it from.
What else can surfing travel insurance provide cover for?
Surf travel insurance may be able to provide cover for a range of unexpected emergencies or situations which aren’t just limited to being in the water.
Other benefits of surfing travel insurance policies:
- Accidental death
- Permanent disability
- Loss of income
- Lost, stolen or damaged travel documents, including your passport
- Theft of cash
- Travel delays
- Alternative transport expenses
- Personal liability
- Rental vehicle insurance excess
All travel insurance providers and policy types will have different benefits and exclusions. Check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to understand what you are and aren't covered for.
What exclusions to surf travel insurance should I be aware of?
There may be a few exclusions in your surf travel insurance policy. These are important to be aware of so you know when your policy may not provide you with cover.
For example, you may not be covered for surfing if:
- You make a claim for an injury that was a pre-existing medical condition at the time you purchased your policy. For example, if you have a shoulder or leg injury that is exacerbated by falling off your surfboard or getting dumped by a wave.
- You were acting irresponsibly at the time you become injured surfing, such as if you had taken illicit drugs or consumed an excessive amount of alcohol.
- You are subject to an age restriction on activities (including surfing) or the policy in general.
There are often general exclusions that apply to surfing travel insurance policies, so before you choose your policy, be sure to read the product disclosure statement in detail and the exclusions that would apply to you if you purchase the policy.
After a terrific day of surfing in Bali, Bruce went out to a local nightclub with his mates
They stumbled back to their AirBnB after a few too many drinks where Bruce decided to demonstrate how he was wiped out by a massive wave that day. In his enthusiastic demonstration, he jumped on the board on the solid floor and ended up snapping the surfboard’s fin.
Because Bruce was under the influence of alcohol and acting irresponsibly when he damaged the surfboard, his claim for the cost of the damage to the surfboard would likely be declined.
What do I do if I experience a surfing emergency while travelling?
Surf travel insurance can provide you with assistance in a range of emergencies.
The emergency assistance team is there to give you advice and direction, as well as organise assistance should you require it.
If you experience a medical emergency, for example colliding with another surfer, getting dumped by a wave or running into a reef, seek assistance immediately. Depending on the emergency, you may need to see a doctor or go to the nearest hospital immediately.
Get in contact with your travel insurer ASAP and update them on the situation so they can provide help or work with the medical staff assisting you.
If you experience theft or lose your valuable belongings, including your surfboard, remember to report the incident within 24 hours or as soon as practically possible.
Planned your surfing trip and ready to hit the waves? Get an instant online quote for surf travel insurance direct from our website below!
~Additional terms and conditions, limits and excesses apply to travellers over the age of 79.
^No cover for any loss or damage to surfboards or surf equipment while in use.
*Stories are fictitious examples drawn from the experiences of Fast Cover travellers and staff. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Cover is subject to the terms and conditions including limits and exclusions of the insurance policy.