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What could be better than a surfing holiday, whether you’re in Australia or overseas, with the sun on your back and cool water beneath your board as you paddle along deep blue waters.

Although no matter how experienced you may be surfing, no one is immune from accidents and mishaps. You can never predict a wipeout, someone stealing your board or a natural disaster that causes destruction on your holiday destination before you arrive.

As surfing Australians, it’s essential to recognise the importance of adequate travel insurance for your next big surf trip.

How can I get travel insurance for surfing?

Many insurance providers will cover surfing in their standard policies, although the level of travel insurance that covers surfing may differ between providers. If travel insurance for surfing is not included in your standard cover, providers may add this as an optional extra, sometimes this is described as an adventure or water sports pack. Adding surf travel insurance as an optional extra to your policy may cost you more in premiums, however, it may be worth it for peace of mind (especially when you consider how quickly medical bills can increase overseas).

You will also need to be aware of any restrictions on this cover; for instance, some providers may only cover you if you go less than two nautical miles out to sea.

What does travel insurance for surfing cover?

Depending on your level of travel insurance, you can be covered for things like:

  • Overseas emergency medical expenses if, say, you get injured on a reef and need medical treatment
  • Medical evacuations and transfers for when the remote island you’re surfing at doesn’t have proper medical facilities, or if your injuries require evacuation or repatriation to Australia
  • Cancellations if, for example, you fall ill or get injured before you leave for your trip or a family emergency prevents you from going
  • Lost, stolen or damaged luggage and belongings (often including surfboards, but some providers may require you to specify your board as an item for cover or add an optional extra for sports equipment)
  • Dental expenses if, for instance, you wipeout and get hit in the mouth by your board
  • Accidental death, loss of income and disability resulting from an injury or illness; and
  • Personal liability if you cause injury or death to another person.

Make sure you read the provider’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) before purchasing, so you know the terms and conditions and what is included in your cover.

What you’re not covered for

Knowing what you’re not covered for is just as important as knowing what you are covered for. Some general exclusions you may find in your travel insurance policy for surfers can include:

  • being under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • theft of unattended belongings and luggage;
  • pre-existing medical conditions (although many providers now offer included or additional cover for specific conditions. Always check your PDS);
  • breaking the law;
  • pandemics/epidemics (some insurers will now offer limited cover for specific types of financial loss related to COVID-19);
  • deliberate and reckless behaviour;
  • travel to a country with an active warning from Smartraveller; and
  • failing to follow instructions or advice (e.g. disobeying your doctor’s orders not to travel, or not adhering to your surfing instructor’s directions).

You also won’t be covered for any incidents that happened before you took out cover.

Exclusions, restrictions and limits can vary between policies and providers, so always read the PDS before taking out cover.

a guy with travel insurance for surfers surfing a tube wave

Why should I insure my surfing trip?

It’s a good idea to insure every kind of trip, but perhaps more so for surfing holidays since you run a higher risk of injury.

Ask yourself –  can you afford to pay for medical treatment if you suffer an injury overseas, far from your country of residence, particularly if you’re somewhere like FijiNew ZealandBali or even Hawaii where medical bills are much more expensive. What about the cost of cancelling your whole trip if you’re suddenly unable to go? Or if your prized surfboard is stolen from your hotel room?

Getting travel insurance for surfers could help provide you financial protection when the unexpected happens.

Frequently asked questions

Is my surfboard covered?

As your personal belonging, surfboards are often covered for theft and damage by travel insurance for surfers. Some providers may require you to specify your board as an item for cover or add an optional extra for sports equipment. Furthermore, surfboards can usually be specified as a ‘high-value item’ (if your policy offers this option), and you can sometimes get optional extras that can provide additional cover for your board (e.g. cover to a higher limit than the standard policy).

There may be some limitations, though; you might find that providers won’t cover any damage to your board while it was in use, or any general wear and tear. Be sure to check your PDS to find out.

I rented my surfing equipment; is that covered?

Generally, any damage or loss you cause to your rented surfboard won’t be covered by your travel insurance  policy for surfers; any injuries you sustain while riding a rented surfboard may still be covered, though. Some providers may offer optional extras that can cover replacement costs for the damaged rental equipment.

How do I claim on my travel insurance for surfing?

The first thing you should do after an incident is call for emergency services if needed or contact your provider’s emergency assistance team (if available).

If the incident has been a theft or other crime, contact the relevant authorities.

You can typically submit your claim through your provider’s website, via email, through the post or by phone. Check whether your provider has a time limit on the claim period (e.g. no later than 30 days after your return to Australia). “It’s a good idea to claim as soon as possible so your provider can help you get back on your feet quicker.

When submitting your claim, you’ll need to provide supporting documentation. This can include:

  • medical certificates, notes or receipts;
  • police reports; and
  • receipts or other proof of ownership.

Stephen Zeller, General Manager

Tips from our travel insurance expert, Stephen Zeller

  1. Purchase travel insurance as soon as you make a booking and pay any deposits and final amounts to ensure you have cancellation cover should you need to cancel your trip.
  2. Do not leave your surfboard unattended in a public place as any theft claims may not be met.
  3. Leave a photocopy of your travel insurance policy and passport with someone back home in case you lose yours while overseas or need assistance.
  4. Always declare any pre-existing medical conditions to ensure there are no surprises if you’re injured or become ill.

Insure your surfing trip today

If travel insurance for surfers is the one thing you haven’t checked off on your packing list yet, compare your options today. It’s a great way to see what’s available and compare between policies to help find the right one for you.

Our travel insurance comparison service is a fast, free and easy way to compare the prices and features of a range of policies. Simply enter in a few details about your trip and away you go!

Ready to look for a better deal? It’s easy to compare with us.

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