Planning a cruise but not sure if you should factor in cruise insurance? Not sure what it will cost or where to buy it? Have questions about coverage and reimbursement? Here is what you need to know.
WHN Expert TIP: Procrastination Problem? While you can buy trip cancellation insurance after booking, Allianz Travel points out that the benefits aren’t retroactive. So if you booked your trip, fell and broke your hip, and then bought your policy, you can kiss your reimbursement for a cancelled trip goodbye.
1. Why you need it
The unexpected can happen on a cruise and without insurance, you will be out the money. Plus, depending on the problem (such as a medical emergency), you may incur additional expenses. Cruise insurance can help offset the cost of relatively minor inconveniences such as delayed baggage arrival to life-threatening situations such as a major health issue.
WHN Expert TIP – Doesn’t Cover Rain: A rainy trip won’t be covered but a cruise affected by a hurricane will, notes Cruise Critic, as long as you have trip delay, interruption or cancellation coverage.
2. What it covers
According to Cruise Travel Insurance: Calculating Trip Costs on the InsureMyTrip website, “You can only insure the amount of pre-paid expenses that will not be completely refunded in the event of a covered cancellation.”
You should include costs for the cruise booking, airfare to and from your port of arrival, transfers (both embarkment and disembarkment) plus parking fees, package fees (dining upgrades, unlimited soda options, and drink packages) and excursions.
“Remember this; insure any money that would be lost if you had to cancel your trip the day you would have stepped out the door to start your journey,” says InsureMyTrip. “To maximize your benefits while limiting your financial exposure, purchase a plan as soon as you make your first trip payment or book your flights.”
3. What other coverage to consider
Here are some additional coverage types to consider from InsureMyTrip:
- Emergency Medical Care/Evacuation—If you fall ill while on your cruise, your standard medical insurance may not cover any care provided outside your home country. On Medicare? You won’t have medical coverage if you’re outside the U.S. Medical evacuation insurance covers you if you need transported from the ship or the nearest port-of-call.
- Baggage Loss or Delay—This covers the cost of replacing items (for lost baggage) or purchasing necessities while waiting for your baggage to appear (baggage delay).
- Identity Theft—Passport or other personal documents or credit cards lost or stolen? Identity theft protection can help minimizing the damage to your credit or financial reputation as well as assist you with replacing documents so you can keep cruising.
- Financial Default—This allows you to recover your money if your cruise line operator or another travel supplier related to your cruise goes bankrupt. There’s usually a waiting period so buy this policy as soon as you make your initial trip payment, recommends InsureMyTrip.
- Hurricanes and Other Bad Weather—Depending on your plan, you may be covered if the cruise is canceled or cut short. Check if the coverage includes itinerary changes or excursion cancellation due to weather conditions.
Other coverage options include Return Home Early (a type of trip interruption coverage), Port-Of-Call Change, Shipboard Service Disruption, Pre-Paid Excursion Reimbursement, Missed Connection and Ship-to-Shore Coverage. (For more details, read InsureMyTrip’s Insuring Your Cruise article.)
4. What it will cost
According to U.S. Travel Insurance Association, travel insurance generally costs from 4% to 8% of the total trip. Cost is based on the length of trip, destination, and age of policy holder. The cost may increase if you add additional coverage to a standard policy.
Notes Cruise Critic, “The per-person price paid for a trip insurance policy will vary depending on many factors, including the insurer, where the traveler lives, the traveler’s age, cost of the trip, when the policy is purchased (i.e., at the time of the trip deposit or later), pre-existing health conditions and what the policy covers.”
5. How to compare policies
When looking at cruise insurance, you can start evaluating policies by cost, coverage or exclusions. (Note: You will want cruise insurance, not just travel insurance. Not all travel insurance covers cruises, or may require an add-on to make sure your potential cruise issues are covered.)
- Cost comparison: You can do this strictly on a dollars-and-cents basis. You look at the price of the coverage and base your choice on the cheapest policy, all else being equal (or close to equal).
- Coverage comparison: You choose your policy based on the coverage it offers. Being a super-cautious, planner type, you want a plan that covers just about any possible eventuality, regardless of the cost.
- Exclusions comparison: This comparison looks at what the various policies won’t cover and opt for a plan that has the least amount of applicable exclusions.
6. Where to buy it
- Travel agent—If you’re booking your cruise through a travel agent, ask for recommendations about the type of cruise insurance you should buy that fits your needs.
- Independent third-party provider—InsureMyTrip recommends checking cruise insurance reviews and then buying the cruise travel insurance from a third-party source. Both Insure My Trip and The Trip Insurance Store are among those selling cruise insurance policies.
Third-party travel insurance providers include companies such as AIG Travel Guard, CSA Travel Protection and Travelex Insurance.
- Cruise line—You can usually buy cruise insurance from the cruise lines, but, writes Jana Jones in Should you get cruise insurance? Yes, but…, it can cost more, it may not offer the same protections as outside insurance, and will most likely be secondary to your personal policy. Also, she adds, “you are often reimbursed in cruise credits rather than in cold, hard cash.”
Regardless of how you choose your plan or what you budget, Cruise Critic recommends verifying that the policy is underwritten by a reputable and licensed insurer regulated by state insurance departments. “The U.S. Travel Insurance Association is a good place to start to research licensed insurers in your state. It’s also easy to search your local Better Business Bureau for feedback on particular insurance providers.”