Sporty types: check your UAE insurance before taking the plunge

Practical Matters: From sky-diving to skiing, the Emirates has plenty on offer for sports enthusiasts. But it is worth checking what your insurance covers in case of an accident.

Policy exclusions by insurers in the region can include water-skiing, board surfing and scuba diving. Rich-Joseph Facun / The National
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The UAE is a sports enthusiast's paradise. From sky-diving over the beach in Dubai to skiing, swimming, ice-skating, kayaking and golf, to name just a few, there's a large number of sports to choose from. But it is also worth checking what your insurance covers you for in case of an accident.

1. Know what you're getting yourself into

Strenuous activity is not without its risks. Many recent converts to physical exertion, not to mention seasoned athletes, have found themselves caught out by an alarming lack of awareness about what their insurance policies can cover. A broken leg from a football game, a slipped disc from a squash match, a sprained wrist on the golf course, injuries sustained while being involved in moto-cross activity, go-karting, rally driving, drag racing - the possibility of getting hurt is always present and potentially debilitating and/or expensive.

2. Exclusion confusion

Policy exclusions by medical insurers in the region are rampant and have the potential to leave amateur sportspeople exposed if they do not read or are unfamiliar with the fine print, particularly for a host of activities that are both prevalent and excitingly attractive. Aerial flight involving micro-lites, hang-gliding or even ballooning or parachuting may be classified by insurers as hazardous, as will martial arts, abseiling and a full range of water sports, such as water-skiing, surfing and scuba diving. While the desert is far removed from the ski slopes, Dubai's wealth and tourism ambitions have yielded numerous ice-rinks and even a ski slope. What if you bruised your spine mid-slalom? The would-be sporting enthusiast needs to be on the ball when it comes to his or her insurance policy and to be wary of the broad, as well as subtle, exclusions. For example, some insurers may have a sweeping exclusion declaring that "all horse-riding activities" would be excluded.

3. Don't get fooled

Another aspect to bear in mind is that people are frequently lured into a false sense of security when they are asked to sign documents at sporting venues indicating that the operator provides insurance coverage. Usually, these may have embedded waivers or might be accompanied by confusing legalese or restrictive provisos - and, ultimately, they are not worth the paper they are written on.

4. Harm to others

Golf, a hugely popular activity in the region, could well become a particularly "tricky" scenario as it could result in injury to the player as well as spectators or bystanders should a shot veer wildly off course. For keen golfers, it is well worth allying with a specialist insurance adviser.

5. Get covered

Whatever your ability, passion and sporting career, it is important to understand exactly what the repercussions may mean for you. Talk to an independent financial adviser before you get in too deep and understand the intricacies of your policy and how it can be made compatible to suit your sporting lifestyle. Your adviser could recommend appropriate covers for life, income replacement, temporary disablement, loss of future earnings/endorsements and the like. Sporting ambition is wonderful, just don't spoil it by being uninsured.

Rumi M Sanjana is the director of general insurance at Nexus Insurance Brokers