When Should You Buy Travel Insurance When You Make a Cruise Down Payment

There is a lot of confusion, even among the most seasoned cruise travelers, about when you actually purchase travel insurance to cover an upcoming cruise. Many cruise lines and carriers want to lure you back for repeat business and they try to entice you with advance purchase discounts on your next trip. If you commit to another journey, does that constitute actually booking the trip, which means you have a specific number of days to buy travel insurance to get Cancel for Any Reason or Pre-Existing Condition Waivers.

Experienced travel insurance buyers often insist on having Cancel for Any Reason coverage and Pre-Existing Conditions Waivers in their insurance policies. This gives them the best protection, and the least amount of hassles if they need to make a claim. These are time sensitive provisions in the policy. That means that you must buy the insurance within 14 days of your initial travel deposit, or the options are not available.

Cruise lines in particular use pre-booking incentives to keep you coming back. A number of cruise companies offer an incentive of $100 or more of onboard credit toward their next cruise if you commit $100 to reserve a spot. That’s a free $100 just for deciding to take a cruise at some point in the future. However, does that $100 down constitute a booking fee in the eyes of the insurance company? This is what causes the confusion for smart passengers who always carry travel insurance.

The short answer is no. If you make an initial payment toward a cruise, but you haven’t determined which specific cruise you want to take, you haven’t set the travel dates, or picked a destination, then it is not considered a trip deposit for the insurance company. According to Jennifer Christ, vice president of claims for Trip Mate, Inc., “We use the date the trip is confirmed (i.e. the date the credit is applied to a trip with dates and a destination) as the trip deposit date when determining if a traveler is eligible for time sensitive benefits such as the Pre-Existing Conditions waiver.”

In general, most companies don’t worry about covering the trip until you have travel dates set and have actually purchased the tickets. Don’t confuse a travel credit with a travel deposit. And if you are confused, consult an expert who can help explain the rules and restrictions for the kinds of coverage you are looking for.

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