Today, more and more people who take cruises see travel insurance less as a luxury and more as a necessity. And they have good reason to do so. Travel insurance can help people out in numerous ways, covering medical expenses, medical evacuation costs, loss of baggage, trip interruption costs, and many kinds of trip cancellation costs. And you never know when it will come in handy. Recently, for example, a cruise liner pitched and a closet door slammed on a client’s hand. The infirmary bill to set the broken fingers and stitch the hand back together again—a bill not covered by the client’s home medical insurance—came to more than $4000. But the $160 the client paid for travel insurance covered all the expenses.
Yet, while more people appreciate the value and accept the necessity of travel insurance for cruises, they can often find the process of buying the insurance confusing and frustrating. So, when people go through this process, I encourage them to focus on two subjects in particular: how much coverage is right for them and where can they get the best deal for the level of coverage they want?
How Much Coverage Is Right for You?
When looking at the insurance choices you have, here are several policy features I recommend that you carefully consider:
- A Pre-Existing Conditions Waiver. You can get this if you purchase your insurance within 14 days of booking your cruise. And, especially for people with health issues of any kind (or close family members such as parents with health issues), this can be very valuable.
- A Trip Interruption Benefit Limit of 150%. This seems high, but, Trip Interruption covers the balance of your unused vacation, as well as the return flights home. If your trip is interrupted, the costs of certain services (such as emergency flights home) can be quite expensive.
- Medical Coverage of at least $50,000. We all know how fast medical costs can add up!
- Medical Evacuation Coverage of $100,000 to $250,000. This is a good subject to discuss with your insurer. In most cases, distance translates into cost. If you are cruising in the South Seas, for example, the cost to get you back to the U.S. will be substantially higher than if you are cruising in the Caribbean.
- Breakdown of a Common Carrier. Many travel insurance plans cover you for a common carrier delay that causes you to miss the cruise and covers the lost vacation time as well as the cost to get you to the next port. But most travel insurance plans are missing coverage for breakdown of a common carrier. This covers both the airplane breakdown that causes you to miss your cruise connection, and if the cruise ship breaks down and any cancellation costs because cancel your cruise. Make sure to read the plan to see if they cover breakdown of a common carrier.
- Cancel for Work Reasons. Many people don’t know this, but some travel insurance policies also cover people who’ve already booked a non-refundable cruise and then learn that their employers’ won’t let them take a vacation when they had planned to. The policyholder can cancel, get a refund, and make plans to take a cruise at a later date. If you have the kind of job where this happens from time to time, you might want to look closely at this feature as well.
Where Can You Get the Best Values on Cruise Insurance?
From cruise lines to travel agencies and online sites, there are numerous places where you can buy travel insurance for your cruise. And, while many travelers simply opt for convenience—buying insurance through the cruise line when they book their trip—I strongly recommend that people shop around. You can usually get greater choice and better coverage for a better price elsewhere.
Although buying from a cruise company is certainly convenient, this coverage is often much more limited than coverage you can get through a travel agent or online site. For example, it never covers the possibility of the cruise line going bankrupt and, if your particular cruise is cancelled, the company usually only provides you with a credit for another of its cruises and not a full refund.
Travel agencies are a little better, providing broader coverage such as hotel and airline costs you may not have purchased through the cruise company. But, because they typically represent only a couple of insurance companies, they offer limited options. And, they traditionally give themselves generous commissions for offering the insurance. So, if you are cost-sensitive, cost will definitely be a factor here.
The online travel insurance sites offer both the widest selection of plans and most opportunity to comparison shop. Usually, you will be able to get the best values from one of these services. But, it’s important to check these out carefully, too. The costs that different sites charge for comparable coverage can—and often do—vary widely.
Yes, it really does pay to spend a little time comparing your travel insurance options before your next cruise. Hopefully, you’ll never need to make a claim. But, in any case, you can rest assured that you’ll be well covered.
If you have any questions on these or related travel insurance or cruise insurance issues, feel free to call our toll-free number at 877-219-8169 or reach us at support@TripInsurance.com. There is no obligation—we are just happy to help, even if you are planning to buy from someone else.