Commercial Diving Insurance

Commercial Diving Insurance

Need commercial diving insurance?  Securing insurance for commercial diving operations can often be a time consuming and confusing matter.  Since there are many types of commercial dive operations and risks, the availability and cost of insurance coverages can be overwhelming.  At the John W Fisk Company, we have spent the last 60 plus years perfecting our insurance expertise and available markets to allow for the most comprehensive and cost effective commercial diving insurance programs available today.  Allow our staff to help you understand and navigate your coverage options.  At Fisk Insurance we closely partner with you to help you tackle insurance MSA’s and contractual requirements.  Marine insurance is our passion, allow us to help you be the most cost effective commercial dive operation in your area.


Commercial diving is a type of diving where the divers are paid for their work. Commercial diving insurance covers this type of diving.  Most of the industry takes place offshore mainly working in underwater production, exploration, and maintenance of oil platforms, but there are many other categories of commercial diving. It is a dangerous occupation and divers must be highly trained and certified.  Due to the dangerous nature of some professional diving operations, specialized equipment such as an on-site hyperbaric chamber and diver-to-surface communication system is often required.  Commercial diving insurance can help cover this specialized work.

Typical insurance coverage for a commercial diver:

    • Action Over
    • In-Rem
    • Primary Non-Contributory
    • Watercraft Exclusion Deleted
    • Explosion, Collapse & Underground
    • Blanket Additional Insured
    • Blanket Waiver of Subrogation
    • Shiprepairers Legal Liability
    • Charterers Legal Liability
    • Wharfingers Legal Liability 
    • US Longshore Harbor Workers Act
    • OCS
    • GOM
    • Alternate Employer 



Offshore diving is the most well known branch of commercial diving, with divers working in support of the exploration and production sector of the oil and gas industry in places such as the Gulf of Mexico in the United States the North Sea in the United Kingdom and Norway and along the coast of Brazil. The work in this area of the industry includes maintenance of oil platforms and the building of underwater structures used in the production process.

Equipment used for offshore diving tends to be surface supplied equipment but this does vary depending on the nature of the work and location. For instance Gulf of Mexico based divers may use wetsuits whilst North Sea divers need dry suits or even hot water suits due to the temperature of the water.


Inland or onshore diving is very similar to offshore diving in terms of the nature of work and the equipment used, the work often being in support of land based civil engineering projects, with the majority of the work either underwater survey or engineering work. The number of dive sites this covers is varied, however, and divers can be found working in harbours and lakes, on hydroelectric dams, in rivers and around bridges and pontoons, with the bulk of this work being undertaken in freshwater. They are often required to inspect and repair outfalls which require at times up to 600 ft. plus penetrations, which require a multitude of safety requirements. Onshore divers typically can be at home every night and earn more per hour than their colleagues who work offshore. However, depth pay and minimum 12 hour shifts offshore must be taken into consideration.


HAZMAT diving is widely regarded as the most dangerous branch of the commercial diving industry, employing highly skilled and experienced staff.

Typical work involves diving into raw sewage or dangerous chemicals, such as paper pulp, liquid cement, or oil sludge. This causes special requirements:

  • The divers need to be vaccinated against diseases such as hepatitis and tetanus.
  • The dive company needs to have specialist plans in place for decontamination of the diver and equipment after a dive.
  • A way to recover the diver if something goes wrong.
  • The diver’s weighting may need to be adjusted, if he is diving in a liquid whose density is much different from the density of water.

The main tasks a diver can be found to be doing include:

  • Essential maintenance of underwater valves and sluice gates.
  • Repairing damaged pipelines.
  • Pollution control work to contain, control, and clean up after a pollution incident.
  • Sampling activities, such as those performed by United States Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Some divers are required to dive into landfill sites to maintain the pumping equipment, vital in preventing landfill sites from filling up with rainwater and contaminating the water table.
  • Welding inside live sewers or working in septic tanks.
  • Miscellaneous repairs and finding lost objects.
  • Finding bodies.

Sewer diving is often considered the most dangerous of all the HAZMAT jobs due to the diseases contained in raw sewage and because syringes and glass find their way into the raw sewage, creating risks of contracting diseases.

Divers working in an environment harmful to their health will always wear a full dry suit with thick gloves which are attached directly to the suit. The helmet and boots will also attach directly to the dry suit, allowing the gloves, boots, suit and helmet to be pressured in order to prevent ingress of liquid should a puncture occur. Normally, to achieve this, a diver will use a free flow diving helmet which continually supplies enough air for the diver to breathe plus an additional amount to pressurize the suit. A free flow helmet has a much lower chance of leakage through the exhaust valve compared to a demand helmet where the exhaust valve is dormant during the inhalation stage of the diver breathing.

The dry suit will be made from a material resistant to whatever hazard the diver faces: normally the diver wears a vulcanised rubber dry suit, but occasionally a neoprene or tri-laminate suit is needed. Often, a diver will wear extra protection over their dry suit to decrease the chance of a puncture: leather, PVC, and nylon coveralls are used for this purpose.

In such diving, light is often very scarce and the water is usually very turbid, so most such divers rely on touch to guide them, and are usually connected via the umbilical to the surface. The umbilical serves as a supply of breathing gas, for communications, and as a lifeline to retrieve the diver in an emergency. It is also used as a guide to find the way back to the surface.


Nuclear diving is similar to HAZMAT diving; the difference is the exposure to radiation instead of a water borne contaminant. To this end, different precautions are required for nuclear diving, mainly, equipment which will not absorb radioactive contamination and pose a disposal problem after several dives.

Heat stress can also be a danger for the diver, in which case a cold water suit may be used: the cold water suit is a special canvas coverall which floods the outside of the diver’s dry suit with chilled water, countering the dangerously high ambient water temperature. A dosimeter is used to ensure that the diver does not receive a dangerous dose of radiation during the dive, assisting in calculating the maximum length of the dive. In addition the dosimeter can also be used to find radiation hot spots, which can indicate areas in need of repair.


Scientific diving is the use of diving techniques by scientists to study underwater what would normally be studied by scientists on land. Scientific divers are normally qualified scientists first and divers second, who use diving equipment and techniques as their way to get to the location of their fieldwork. Underwater archeology, marine biology and geology are examples of sciences pursued underwater. Some scientific diving is carried out by universities in support of undergraduate or postgraduate research programs.

Government bodies such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency carry out scientific diving to recover samples of water, marine organisms and sea, lake or riverbed material to examine for signs of pollution.


Media Diving is a term that covers underwater photography and underwater filming. Media Diving is often carried out in support of television documentaries, such as the BBC series Planet Earth or Hollywood blockbusters, with feature films such as Titanic and The Perfect Storm featuring underwater photography or footage. Media divers are normally highly trained camera operators who use diving as a method to reach their workplace, although some underwater photographers may start as recreational divers and move on to make a living from their hobby.


Military diving covers all types of diving carried out by military personnel. There are a number of different specialisations for a military diver to choose, some depend on which branch of the military they’ve joined or where the military needs more divers. Typical offensive activities include underwater demolition, infiltration and sabotage, this being the type of work elite regiments such as the Navy SEALs carry out. Defensive activities are centered around countering the threat of enemy special forces and enemy anti-shipping measures, and typically involve defusing mines, searching for explosive devices attached to the hulls of ships, and locating enemy frogmen in the water.

Military divers need equipment which hides their position and prevents explosives from being set-off, and to this end, they use rebreathers which produce few or no bubbles on the surface, and which contain no magnetic components. This continues down to the design of their diving suit, which will normally have a non-magnetic zipper, and the face-mask may be fitted with special anti-reflective glass. Some navies have gone further and given their divers special contact lenses instead of large face-masks to cut down on the risk of a reflection.

Naval diving is the military term for commercial diving, and is drastically different from military diving. Naval divers work to support maintenance and repair operations on ships and military installations. Their equipment is derived from commercially available equipment, with the US Navy using versions of the Kirby Morgan helmets and full-face masks amongst other equipment. Typical tasks include:

  • boat and ship inspection, cleaning and maintenance
  • demolition of ship wreck and unexploded ordnance
  • ship, submarine, downed aircraft, and other military hardware salvage or recovery
  • underwater mine clearance
  • investigating unidentified submerged divers


Police divers are normally police officers who have been trained in the use of diving techniques to recover evidence and occasionally bodies from rivers, canals and the sea. They may also be employed in searching shipping for contraband substances fitted to the outside of hulls to avoid detection. The equipment they use depends on requirements, but the requirement for communications at some sites does often require the use of full-face masks with communication equipment, either with SCUBA or surface supplied equipment.


Surface Supplied equipment can be used with full face masks or diving helmets. Helmets are normally to be found fitted with diver to surface communication equipment, and often with light sources and video equipment. The decision between wearing a full-face mask or a full diving helmet comes down to job requirements and personal preference, however the impact protection and warmth offered by a full diving helmet makes it popular for underwater construction sites and cold water work.

Breathing gas for the diver is piped down from the surface, through a long, flexible hose, called an umbilical. In addition to breathing gas, the umbilical may have additional hoses and cables for such things as communications equipment, a pneumofathometer for measuring depth, or hot water should the diver be using a hot water suit. The umbilical must be strong enough to support the diver’s weight, with a significant safety margin, because it may be used by surface personnel to pull the diver out of the water. The diver’s breathing gas can is pumped down from either high pressure tanks or through a gas compressor.

If the diver is to be working at extreme depths for a long period, the diver may live in a special underwater habitat called a diving chamber. This type of surface supplied diving is known as saturation diving. The same technique for supplying breathing gas as regular surface supplied diving is used, with the diving bell receiving breathing gas and electricity from a diving support vessel on the surface. Due to the often extreme depths the diver is working at, specialised helium-based breathing gas mixtures are often used to prevent both nitrogen narcosis and oxygen toxicity which occurs at these extreme depths.

Call Fisk Insurance today for a free consultation and no obligation quote.  We have the markets and expertise to insure your commercial diving operations virtually anywhere in the world.


Call us today at 1-888-486-5411

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