Insuring Your Cruise
Last updated on 01/15/2019
Cruise insurance is especially important to consider when booking a cruise because of the unique multi-leg nature of traveling by cruise ship. Depending on the plan, cruise travel insurance can protect you if you miss a leg of your trip or have an emergency evacuation from the sea. When traveling abroad by ship, cruise trip insurance can cover you for unexpected medical issues. We invite you to get a personalized insurance quote for your cruise and compare the available plans. If you are primarily interested in emergency medical coverage, please read more about our travel health insurance plans we have available.
However, it's important to be cautious about where you get travel insurance for a cruise. Typically, to find the best and most robust cruise insurance it's most advisable to look at cruise insurance reviews and then buy travel insurance for your cruise from a third-party source — not from the cruise line itself or from a booking site. These types of travel insurance plans tend to be limited in their coverage and may not include the essential benefits you need for your individual comfort and safety. They may be written in a way that is more likely to benefit the cruise line operator rather than the cruiser. Our online insurance comparison app now recommends cruise insurance plans for travelers who identify they are traveling by cruise. Whenever you purchase travel insurance for a cruise, make sure to find out what type of coverage is available to you for the following concerns:
Emergency Medical Care
If you should unexpectedly fall ill or become injured while you're on your cruise, you'll need some sort of medical insurance coverage to offset the expense of the care you receive. Many cruisers don't know that their home medical insurance provider may not cover any care they receive outside of their home country and some may only cover a portion of the costs. Travelers on international cruises with primary Medicare insurance should be particularly concerned with this type of benefit, as Medicare does not traditionally cover any kind of medical care outside of the United States.
Emergency Medical Evacuation
While rare, emergency medical evacuations are a genuine possibility for cruisers. Whether the emergency is severe enough to require an air rescue from the ship, or whether it involves emergency transport from the nearest port-of-call, the costs can be expensive if not covered by insurance. Travelers who are particularly concerned about the possible quality of medical care in an unfamiliar area of the world may want to consider the optional Hospital of Choice benefit as an additional coverage. The benefit may allow for transfer to another hospital in the event that the attending physician determines evacuation is medically necessary.
Baggage Loss or Baggage Delay
Between airlines, ships, and ports-of-call there are plenty of opportunities for luggage to be delayed, lost in transit or stolen. Baggage loss coverage may help recover the costs of replacing lost items, or baggage delay coverage may help reimburse for the necessities purchased while waiting for bags. Having baggage can significantly decrease the stress of losing your belongings.
Losing personal documents, such as passports, is indeed a possibility when on a cruise. Identity theft protection is a unique service offered by some travel insurance providers. This coverage may include a toll-free assistance line to help guide you through the process of minimizing possible damage to your credit or financial reputation. It can also assist in important communications and monitoring to help replace your documents as quickly as possible and continue your cruise.
One significant benefit that third-party insurance plans offer is possible coverage for financial default. In other words, if your cruise line operator or another travel supplier related to your cruise goes bankrupt after the waiting period on the policy (typically 10 days after purchase), financial default coverage potentially would allow you to recover the money paid to that travel supplier. It’s important to note that financial default coverage is generally a time-sensitive benefit, so be sure to look into purchasing your travel insurance soon after you make your initial trip payment. It is important to read the details of the plan as some do restrict coverage for financial default of the travel supplier, tour operator, travel agency, organization or firm that you purchased the trip from.
Hurricanes and Other Bad Weather
Cruise ships are obviously especially vulnerable to the effects of hurricanes or other severe weather. While most comprehensive travel insurance plans will not offer coverage if your cruise departs as scheduled, the plan may cover you if the cruise is canceled or cut short. Trip cancellation coverage can help to recoup any costs that the cruise company will not reimburse. Some plans written for cruises do have coverage for itinerary changes or excursion cancellation due to weather conditions. There are also important travel insurance benefits available that are related to bad weather that causes damage to your home and renders it uninhabitable, such as trip interruption coverage.
Unique Travel Insurance Coverage for Cruises
When you are planning a cruise, you have specific travel needs that are different from a traditional traveler – for obvious reasons. This is not your normal “fly away, vacation and fly home” trip. You’ll be meeting up with your cruise, vacationing out on the deep blue sea, probably experiencing some new things through excursions and then coming home to reality.
These differences mean you’ll need unique travel insurance coverage for your trip. A typical comprehensive plan would be a great option for any traveler, even cruisers. But there are some comprehensive cruise insurance plans that offer specialized coverage specific to the needs of cruisers. Below are some examples of coverage you can find if you look carefully at the plan details:
Return Home Early – It’s a new twist on trip interruption coverage. This coverage allows you to abandon your cruise for any reason and provides reimbursement of your transportation costs, up to the specified benefit limit, in order to get home. This coverage is available if all eligibility requirements are met and is available in most states.
Port of Call Change – Sometimes weather or other issues will force a cruise line to change the expected itinerary prior to departure. If this is the case for your cruise and you elect to embark on the voyage, this coverage will provide a one-time payment for the inconvenience. The plan you choose will specify the benefit limit that you will receive. This coverage is available in most states.
Shipboard Service Disruption – Unfortunately, in the past few years, cruise lines have been in the spot light for situations that often end the cruise early, cause travelers to become sick or leave them stranded in the middle of the ocean. If there is a fire, mechanical breakdown, virus that affects 30% or more passengers, or other covered event that disrupts the cruise, the Shipboard Disruption benefit will provide a one-time payment of the amount stated in your plan, to compensate you for the inconvenience. This coverage is available in most states.
Pre-Paid Excursion Reimbursement – Because you planned ahead, you probably added your pre-paid, non-refundable excursions to your trip cost when purchasing your travel insurance plan. Well, if the cruise line changes your itinerary after your departure, this can throw a wrench in your plans. This coverage will provide a one-time reimbursement, up to the limit on your confirmation, for pre-paid, non-refundable activity expenses that you have lost. This coverage is available in most states.
Missed Connection – Like we always say – no one is immune to travel mishaps. Sometimes when you are traveling to meet your cruise, you get delayed on the way. If you and your travel companions are delayed 3 or more hours due to a covered reason and you miss your cruise departure, this coverage will reimburse, up to the stated limit, for expenses to help you rejoin your ship. It’s important to plan ahead, however. As, depending on the travel insurance company, you may only be eligible for benefits if you left adequate time between your delayed flight and missed connection. The amount of coverage will vary from plan to plan.
Ship-to-Shore Coverage – Locating this coverage in your average comprehensive plan will be difficult. This is a rare benefit that is defined as a part of emergency evacuation. Essentially, the travel insurance company will assist with making arrangements to get you off the cruise ship and to an onshore hospital if your condition warrants an evacuation. Of course, there may be exclusions or exceptions due to your ships location. But this benefit allows you to have peace of mind knowing that assistance, in an unfortunate situation, is just a phone call away, even if you are aboard a cruise ship.
Like we said, not all comprehensive travel insurance plans will have these benefits. While they can be beneficial to most cruisers, there may be some coverage limitations as well as eligibility requirements. We always recommend contacting our Customer Care Center to answer any questions you may have on the coverage and plans prior to purchase. Finding the right plan means you can travel worry-free.