Cruise Insurance – What should you know?
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cruise travel insurance

We've pulled together a comprehensive guide for buying cruise insurance that will save you money and help you get the best travel insurance coverage.

Buying cruise insurance is a very smart investment if you consider the financial risks of not having it. Travel insurance can seem complicated, but we help take the mystery out of finding the best value on good coverage.

What's the biggest potential mistake in buying cruise insurance?

The biggest mistake is not shopping around. You can get a much better value – generally better coverage and a better price if you do some comparison-shopping. The primary reason for the savings is that each insurance company formulates its rate tables based on age, trip cost, and trip length.

One company may offer similar or better coverage at a lower price based on where you fall in its rate tables.

Do you really need to buy travel insurance?

Travel insurance covers the non-refundable portion of your trip so you don't incur penalties if you have a covered reason to cancel your trip. It also covers medical expenses, medical evacuation costs, baggage, and trip interruption costs.

“Any travel advisor would recommend buying travel insurance for a cruise. It's a smart investment.”

Any travel advisor would recommend buying travel insurance for a cruise. It's a smart investment. If you can't take the cruise, the insurance will cover the cancellation penalties. Medical coverage is more critical than you might think.

We had a case where the boat pitched and a closet door slammed on a client's hand. The infirmary bill to set broken fingers and stitch the hand back together ran over $4,000 and was not covered by the client's home medical insurance. But the insurance plan was $160 and covered all the expenses.

Younger couples often have more risk than older travelers, because they may be responsible for children or elderly parents, who can get sick and cause them to cancel their trip.

Most important features to look for:

Things to consider:

Who should you buy your insurance from?

Many people just buy their insurance from the cruise company or their travel agent. This is easy: the service provider recommends a certain plan and the customer just wants coverage.

The best place to shop around is online where you can compare various plans and their costs just by filling out a quote form. You will save yourself a lot of money and get much better coverage if you comparison-shop online.

Is there a difference between plans you buy from the cruise company and your travel agent?

Insurance plans you buy from a cruise company are wholesale plans. These are designed to be sold exclusively by the cruise company. They always exclude coverage for bankruptcy of the cruise company and leave you exposed to this risk.

The cancellation provisions are often customized and may only pay out in the form of a travel credit for the cruise line instead of cash. They often provide a lower cost plan by cutting back on cancelation reasons or coverage limits.

“Policies from a travel agent usually offer broader coverage and will insure additional hotel and airline costs that you may not have purchased through the cruise company.”

Policies from a travel agent usually offer broader coverage and will insure additional hotel and airline costs that you may not have purchased through the cruise company. These retail policies typically will cover you for default or bankruptcy of a travel supplier.

Travel agents make a nice commission on the sale of travel insurance policies. Also, they usually represent only a couple of companies, so your ability to compare coverage and prices is fairly limited.

Online comparison sites usually sell the same plans offered by travel agents at the same commission levels. The difference is that they let you compare the cost and coverage of multiple plans to find the lowest cost plan with the best coverage for you.

“TripInsurance.com has a unique way of selling travel insurance.”

Among these comparison sites, TripInsurance.com has a unique way of selling travel insurance. We have exclusive plans from the leading insurers that enable you to purchase directly from major insurance companies at consumer-direct prices and save 40% or more on the same or better coverage.

When should you buy cruise insurance?

Buy your insurance within 14 days of your initial trip deposit. There are time-sensitive provisions such as pre-existing condition waivers that enhance your coverage if you buy within that window. You can normally buy insurance up to the day before you depart, but you get better coverage when you buy within 14 days.

“You can normally buy insurance up to the day before you depart, but you get better coverage when you buy within 14 days.”

Often people place a deposit on a future cruise when they are on board a cruise ship. They haven't yet picked a date or committed to a specific trip, but they have placed a deposit on future travel to get a better deal. In this case, you can wait until you set the date of the cruise to buy the insurance.

What should I look for when I compare plans?

If you are buying within 14 days of your initial deposit, always look for a plan with a pre-existing conditions waiver. Many plans offer only coverage of 100% of your insured vacation cost for trip interruption, so look for a plan with 150% in trip interruption benefits.

This benefit pays you back for any unused vacation and the cost to get you home if your trip is interrupted for a reason covered by your insurance. If you have to cancel your vacation and return home within the first couple of days of your trip, you will need the additional coverage to take care of any extra travel expenses.

“Get at least $100,000 in medical evacuation coverage.”

Get at least $100,000 in medical evacuation coverage because — if you need this benefit — the average medical evacuation runs about $100,000 - $200,000. Make sure the plan will get you to your boat if you miss a travel connection.

Some plans offer cancel-for-work reason provisions that will cover your cancellation penalties if your boss tells you you can't take your vacation at the last minute.

So, if I miss the boat, will the insurance help me catch up with the cruise?

The short answer is probably. Most travel insurance will cover the cost to catch up with a cruise if you miss the boat because of a common carrier delay or if your trip is interrupted for a medical reason and you have to spend some time in a hospital.

“Missing the boat because you didn't get to the airport on time and missed your flight won't be covered.”

Missing the boat because you didn't get to the airport on time and missed your flight won't be covered. We always recommend that you plan to get to your departure city the day before and spend the night.

Alaska cruises are tricky because US government regulations won't let a foreign registered ship transport Americans between US ports unless they board in a foreign port. Plan to get to the port the day before for an Alaskan cruise. If you miss the boat in Vancouver, the cruise line may not let you on for the rest of the trip because the boat stops at ports in Alaska. If you have to cancel an Alaskan cruise for this reason, it's not covered by insurance.

If I'm traveling with a group, should everyone buy insurance?

Groups traveling together and getting insurance together have an extra cancellation benefit. If one person or a couple in your group has to cancel for a covered reason, you can cancel too. If your traveling companion has to cancel, you can still go on the cruise and the insurance will cover the extra cost difference for the double occupancy rate.

Have a question we haven't answered here?

Call our toll free number at 877-219-8169, and our licensed travel insurance experts will answer any questions for you. There is no obligation to buy. We're just happy to help.

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Have a question we haven't answered? Call toll free: 877-219-8169. Our licensed travel insurance experts will answer any questions with no obligation to buy. We're just happy to help.