Note: Cruzely.com is not an insurance professional. Be sure to review any policy and ask your insurance company any questions you might have.
We are an affiliate of travel insurers linked below. We receive a small commission if you get a quote for travel insurance through the links included in this article, at no cost to you.
Travel insurance may never have crossed your mind if most of your previous trips consisted of short, domestic jaunts. But once you start planning your first cruise, we suggest that you’ll want to protect your trip with a good travel insurance plan for your cruise.
Why do we think travel insurance is so important when taking a cruise? After all, 99.9% of cruise passengers have a great time without a hitch.
The issue is that when something does come up, it can be a major hiccup in your trip. After all, with cruising you have a lot of money on the line as you have to completely pay for your trip before you board. If you have to cancel, you could be out a significant amount of money. Add to that the fact that any medical issue at sea or in a foreign country can be expensive to treat, and it’s easy to see why it’s a good idea to have some protection.
But we know that for first-time cruisers, choosing a plan may feel bewildering at first. That’s why we’ve put together a dozen tips and things to know to help you make better choices in selecting cruise insurance.
Understand the importance of cruise insurance
If you’re a risk-tolerant person, you might think you don’t need travel insurance. After all, most cruises go off without a hitch. We suggest you spend a little time on Google, researching the many things that have happened to real-life cruisers to get an idea of how many things can go wrong, from missed connections to storms, to mechanical failure, to shipboard illness.
Obviously, these events don’t occur all the time, but since they do happen sometimes, going without cruise insurance makes as much sense as leaving your car uninsured.
Budget the cost of cruise insurance into your plans
When making a budget for your cruise, don’t spend your entire travel fund on the voyage itself. Allow approximately 4-10% of the cost of your cruise to purchase cruise insurance. Budgeting beforehand makes the cost more bearable as it’s then seen as part of the cost of the cruise, instead of an extra expense later on.
Don’t wait until the last minute to buy insurance
We suggest buying cruise insurance as soon as possible after you purchase your voyage. Your trip cancellation benefits will begin after you buy your insurance. If something comes up forcing you to cancel your cruise for any of the reasons covered in your plan, you will be reimbursed for expenses that can’t be refunded by the cruise line or airline. Wait too late and something could come up that causes to you to cancel before coverage is in place.
Know that not all reasons for cancelling are covered
You might think if you have travel insurance and have to cancel your trip, you’ll be covered. In most cases, this is true. However, travel insurance only covers for pre-defined reasons like sickness or injury, job loss, and others. If you just cancel because you don’t want to go anymore then you won’t usually be able to file a claim. (You can get “Cancel for Any Reason” coverage. More on this below.)
Don’t rely on the cruise line coverage
When you buy your cruise, you’ll usually have an offer to buy insurance for your trip as well. Although it may seem like a good idea to purchase cruise insurance as part of a “one-stop-shop” while buying your cruise, the coverage offered by the cruise lines typically has lower limits — and can be more expensive — than third-party insurance. We’ve found that you usually get a better deal with third-party insurance plans.
Do some comparison shopping
Like most other consumer services, insurance costs can vary widely. Sites like InsureMyTrip.com allow you to receive quotes from multiple insurers at the same time, so you can easily compare different companies. Just like you wouldn’t go with the first car insurance quote you get, it’s a smart idea to shop around to get the best price and coverage for your needs.
Get references, if possible
Ask your travel agent if he/she can recommend a reliable provider for cruise insurance. If you have friends who cruise, ask about their experiences with travel insurance companies. You might also want to check Cruise Critic’s online forums and/or Facebook cruise travel groups to find out if there are insurance companies other travelers recommend. Members of Cruzely have personally used AIG Travel Guard and felt like it offered good coverage for the cost.
Don’t skimp on coverage limits
If your insurer offers you options for plans with higher and lower limits, spend a little bit more to get more coverage. If you have a medical emergency, for instance, and must be evacuated from the ship or a small port town to a large, well-equipped hospital, costs such as helicopter transportation can add up quickly. In our opinion, few people would complain about having too much coverage.
Understand what cruise insurance does and does not cover
Cruise insurance can protect you from minor mishaps (lost luggage) as well as emergencies (medical payments or evacuation). You can read our guidelines here explaining what you should look for in a cruise insurance policy. However, insurance does not guarantee your trip will be perfect.
Don’t expect to be reimbursed if you can’t tan poolside during your cruise because it rains every day of your voyage. As well, things like having a port of call cancelled aren’t usually covered either.
Consider your personal health history and employment situation
Read your policy carefully, then ask questions about issues likely come up for you. If you have a health condition, find out if your policy covers pre-existing conditions. A recent news story told of a Washington couple whose travel insurance rejected their claim when they canceled their cruise because of concerns about an ongoing battle with breast cancer (some policies will cover pre-existing conditions in some circumstances). If your employer has hinted at a promotion requiring increased hours, find out if your policy covers you if you must cancel for work-related reasons. (Most policies do cover job loss.)
Consider add-ons to your policy
You should know that most policies only offer cancellation reimbursement if you have to cancel your cruise for a list of pre-defined reasons. If there’s a strong possibility you might have to cancel your cruise for reasons other than those covered by basic cruise insurance, you may want to get a “Cancel For Any Reason” add-on to your basic policy. Other add-ons can add more protections for different circumstances.
Bring your cruise insurance information with you on your trip
An emergency that requires looking up your policy number might also involve losing your phone, so don’t rely on a smart-phone insurance app or other electronic means. Print out basic information about your policy and pack it in a secure place in your luggage.
A small purchase can make a big difference
The relatively small extra investment you make in purchasing cruise insurance can give you peace of mind to enjoy your trip if nothing happens – and protect you financially if an unforeseen event interferes with your voyage.
Once you understand how this type insurance works, you can include purchasing travel insurance one of the items on your pre-voyage checklist before every cruise. You can get a free quote here, see how much coverage might cost, and see everything it covers.