(Photo credit: Elyne Anthonissen via Unsplash.)
No matter how much it costs, a cruise is big deal to most travelers. It’s a week or more spent away from the day-to-day – which across most of the United States is a really cold day-to-day right now – and it’s a special sort of travel requiring its own set of decisions, its own pace, its own wardrobe, its own menu, its own activities, its own lingo … and its own travel insurance.
Well, maybe not so much on that last point. Actually, cruise travel insurance is the same travel insurance that you’d buy for other types of travel. You simply need to choose a product that aligns with the type of cruise you’re on – ocean cruise or river cruise, three-day to month-long – the things you plan to do on your cruise, and your own situation.
What are some of the most important facets of travel insurance for cruises?
Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption: If you look at the description of coverage for trip interruption and trip cancellation, one of the first things you’re liable to see is some variation of the following: “You will be reimbursed for all prepaid, non-refundable expenses.” Well, what’s a cruise if not an assortment of prepaid, non-refundable expenses? You’re basically paying for everything for a cruise up front, normally in one big payment. Travel insurance is custom-made for a trip like that. The big things to watch for with trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance are the covered reasons for cancellation and interruption. Not all cruise travel insurance is created alike when it comes to these reasons, so read your policy before you buy and understand the covered reasons – especially when it comes to things like natural disasters.
Luggage: As our guide to packing and our cruise-packing-tips article point out, packing for a cruise is not like packing for other types of trips. You need a combination of clothing types, from beach wear to formal wear, and you ideally need it to fit into one medium-sized suitcase. However, as our Sharyn Alden points out, you may arrive before your suitcase does. If your luggage is lost and your main sources of clothing are the ship’s gift store, the T-shirt bazaars at your ports of call, and other travelers who aren’t quite your size, you’re going to be happy you have cruise travel insurance with robust luggage coverage – ideally one that pays you while you’re still traveling. In that case, a plan with a fixed luggage benefit, like ExactCare Extra®, can be a real lifesaver. Again, read your policy to understand the amount of the benefit and any per-item limitations.
Emergency Medical: Our State of Travel Insurance 2018 report is showing that younger travelers in greater numbers are planning to cruise in 2018. However, the average age of a cruiser is well above 40 – and with increased age comes increased medical concerns. That’s not an indictment of older travelers; that’s just the numbers talking. Given that, it’s important for cruise travelers to choose travel medical insurance with a high limit, ideally one with coverage for pre-existing conditions. Those conditions are usually covered if you buy travel insurance within two weeks of making your initial trip deposit, which is a powerful incentive to buy your travel insurance when you first pay for your trip. (Hey, you know you’re going to buy it anyway. Why not buy it early and get it out of the way?) If you don’t know if pre-existing conditions are covered with your travel health insurance, or if you’re not sure how they’re defined, read your policy. Don’t wait until you’re in the (really expensive) ship’s infirmary to find out you’re not covered.
Medical Evacuation: Cruise lines like to go to places you can’t get to easily if you’re not on a cruise ship; that’s part of the allure. However, that out-of-the-way-ness can really get in the way if someone gets severely injured or ill and needs to be airlifted off of the ship to a place where they can get a higher level of medical care. Airlifting isn’t easy or cheap; because of that, cruisers need cruise medical insurance with a minimum of $100,000 in emergency medical evacuation insurance – the more, the better. Often an emergency-medical-evacuation upgrade is an optional coverage; a cruise is a perfect time to upgrade. But just like every other important aspect of travel accident insurance for a cruise, medical-evacuation coverage requires you need to read your policy and understand what’s covered, and at what level, before you buy the policy … and long before your cruise ship sails.
Travel Assistance: If you run into trouble on a cruise, sometimes you don’t really need money (though money is always welcome); you just need someone to fix whatever’s wrong, and fast. Travel insurance has an answer for that, too: 24/7 travel assistance. If you have a medical issue or a lost passport, or just want some information on your next port of call, travel assistance can help – even if you have and work with a travel agent. Look at it this way: When you’re traveling, you can’t have too many people looking out for you. Travel assistance is just one more set of eyes on you … a set of eyes that promises to look away when you make a second trip to the all-night cheesecake buffet.
One last piece of advice: With any cruise insurance, read the fine print and understand what’s covered. And if you decide to shop around … hey, that’s what we’re here for.
Please visit our Disclaimer page for underwriter info. Policies have exclusions and limitations. For complete details of coverage, contact BHTP by calling 844-411-2487, or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.