In 2018 the PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management team continues to bring you tips from PADI staff in the field on how to maintain and improve safety in your professional diving activities. This month we heard from PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management Consultant and Qualified Barrister, Rebecca Wastall.
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers
“In today’s changing world I don’t think we can ignore the importance of insurance. Make sure you are protected as a dive professional. We live in litigious times and comprehensive cover should be at the top of your agenda.” Rebecca Wastall
Insurance, a topic no one likes discussing! It’s something that most don’t want to buy but feel they are forced into purchasing. Insurance seems to dominate everything we do, from driving a vehicle to travel to sporting activities. We can’t move without someone saying “you need insurance for that”. Depending on where you are based in Asia Pacific depends entirely on whether it is or isn’t compulsory to have insurance in the diving industry too. As it stands any member that goes to work as a dive professional in Australia, Fiji, French Polynesia and New Caledonia are required by law to have insurance. This is regardless of your country of origin or how long you intend to stay.
So we shouldn’t be surprised that so many diving professional decide not to purchase insurance when it’s not compulsory for the great majority and can therefore be ignored? Absolutely not. A few years ago litigation was unheard of in places like Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia. Unfortunately today’s world is bringing new challenges and those that thought “it’s not required so I won’t invest” are unfortunately on occasion regretting their decisions.
In the last six months there have been several cases of negligence where court proceedings have been issued in the Asia Pacific Region. In most of the cases the allegations are vehemently denied. Most of these stores did not have insurance and now have to fight their way through the court system either unaided or by paying privately. With legal bills in excess of $100k, companies are struggling to find the fees to fight. All of these new cases are in countries not normally associated with issuing legal proceedings.
People it seems, be it through media attention, advertisements of lawyers or otherwise, are becoming familiar with bringing compensation claims. Looking for fault, regardless of whether it can or can’t be justified. People are becoming aware they can bring a civil law suit anywhere in the world providing they apply the legal principles laid down by the country where the incident took place. With the introduction of the “no win no fee” system people are thinking there is nothing to lose. Anyone can bring a claim. You need to ask yourself are you in a position to defend it?
Have you considered how you would pay for legal proceedings if you were to be sued as a company, as an individual or both? Do you have that contingency? Do you understand that as a company you could be liable for anything your instructors do under employment or when using freelancers. Vicarious liability is strict in nature and if an incident takes place and falls within the remit of diving it is likely the claimant will sue the store as well as the individual as the store is more likely to be solvent and able to pay.
Obviously we don’t want our members to be placed in this position. Check and double check your paperwork, keep your training up to date and be cautious when people complain of ailments that could be associated with many different conditions. Always treat the worst case scenario. This is safe and best practice. What you need to ask yourself however, is, is this enough? Has our liability culture struck a new level, a level we would be foolish to ignore?
In the scheme of a business expense, for an individual or company, insuring yourself or your dive centre is not expensive in nature. Yes, it is an extra cost but it is good to at least explore the benefits it could give you. There are many insurance companies available to give you Liability Insurance. PADI works closely with our approved partner V Insurance as we feel it gives good cover in many areas. It has been specifically designed for PADI Asia Pacific Members. It provides both Public and Product Liability, Professional Indemnity, assistance in criminal prosecutions, coronial inquests, workplace health and safety defence costs as well as crisis and media management. For exact cover and figures please go to padiinsurance.com.au for more details.
In terms of how much you will be paying out, well it may be less than you think. For a few hundred dollars you are getting a comprehensive insurance support package.
If you would like further information and would like to speak with the V insurance specialist team on:
If you have any concerns about incidents or potential liability problems occurring please feel free to call or email the Quality Management Department on +61 2945542841 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.