A cruise vacation is a major investment, not only with the cost of the cruise, but also any airfare, hotels or other travel arrangements you may need to reach the embarkation port, not to mention any time you’ve arranged off work and all the effort you put into planning your ocean-going getaway. Cruise insurance can help protect that investment, but should you really buy it?
Understanding Your Insurance Options
Not all cruise insurance options are the same and it is important to understand the types of protection available to you. Depending on the cruise, you may be able to purchase insurance coverage directly from the cruise line, or you may even have some coverage available through your credit card company if you’ve used a card to book your cruise. Travel agents often offer vacation insurance options, and there are third party independent companies that will also offer insurance for cruise travelers.
In addition to different insurance providers, there is a wide range of plans and options available to cover cruise vacations. While each plan will offer different types of coverage under different conditions, typical coverage may apply to transportation delays or cancelations, unexpected illnesses, accidents, job loss or changes in travel plans due to unexpected sudden weather events, as well as emergency medical care during your vacation. Coverage may apply just to you and your immediate travel partner, or it could also apply to immediate or extended family members if any incidents directly impact your cruise. Some cruise travel insurance plans may provide coverage for lost or damaged luggage as well.
When investigating cruise insurance options, it is important to carefully read the terms and conditions of the coverage. Some plans will cover expenses up front, while others require out-of-pocket payment before reimbursement will be considered.
With so many options available for travel insurance to cover a cruise vacation, it can be overwhelming to decide whether or not you need to buy cruise insurance. There are questions you can ask yourself, however, to determine if insurance coverage is right for you.
What to Ask Yourself Before You Buy Cruise Insurance
Only you can decide if you should invest in cruise insurance, but there are a number of questions you can consider to decide if it should be part of your vacation planning.
Is your trip prepaid, and if you need to cancel, what is the refund policy?
Many cruise lines offer graduated refunds for cruise fares, but if you need to cancel your cruise shortly before traveling, it may be too late to get any money back without an independent insurance policy since the cruise line will have difficulty filling the space you have left. If you have not prepaid the entire cruise fare, however, there may be more refund options available.
How far in advance are you booking your cruise vacation?
If you are booking your cruise only a few weeks before you set sail, you may not need extra insurance. If you are booking that once-in-a-lifetime voyage a year ahead, however, anything could happen in the months before you leave that could impact your travel plans or even cause you to cancel your cruise. A lost job, an unexpected move, divorce, illness or other issues could come up and change your plans, and insurance can help cover the lost cost of your cruise or any changes you make to your vacation.
How difficult are your travel arrangements to reach the cruise?
If you are fortunate enough to live near the cruise port you’re departing from and you can easily reach the port, you may not have a great risk of accidentally missing the cruise due to delays, traffic, poor weather or other problems. If you have to catch multiple flights, have layovers or are traveling a greater distance, however, one delay could quickly escalate and cause you to miss out on your cruise.
Do you, your companions or any family members have health problems that could worsen before the cruise?
If you are in good health, you may not be worried about illness impacting your cruise, but if you have any condition that could worsen or degenerate in the weeks or months leading up to your travel, you may need insurance to cover any impact that condition could have on your travel plans. This can also apply to your traveling companions or even family members who may not be traveling with you, if their health could dramatically change your plans. It is important to note, however, that pre-existing conditions may require special insurance coverage for travel arrangements.
Do you have any dangerous allergies that could flare up on vacation?
A simple allergy won’t likely cause problems during your vacation, but some allergies with rapid, severe reactions could require more extreme medical care if there is a problem. Those medical expenses may not be covered through standard health insurance, but extra cruise vacation insurance may help.
Will you join in potentially hazardous activities on the cruise?
While cruise lines take every precaution to keep passengers safe, accidents can happen, especially during vigorous activities such as scuba diving or snorkeling, zip line tours, rock climbing walls, horseback riding or other adventurous options that are often offered as shore tours. While a small injury may not impact your cruise, a more severe injury could lead to expensive out-of-network medical treatments or even evacuation from the cruise ship.
How stable are your employment and living conditions?
If you were to unexpectedly lose your job or need to move with little notice, it is important that you be able to cover those extra expenses and still feel comfortable with the money you’ve spent on your cruise vacation. If you would need to get a refund from the cruise to cover those expenses, cruise insurance is a good option to give you that protection.
Are you pregnant, or could you become pregnant before traveling?
Different cruise lines have different guidelines for pregnant women who wish to travel, and if you or your traveling companion were to get pregnant before the cruise, there may be additional medical considerations or complications that could impact the cruise. The proper cruise insurance policy could ensure that you have sufficient coverage to protect your travel without risking your pregnancy.
Do you have an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses before your cruise?
All sorts of unexpected expenses could pop up just before your cruise, from car and home repairs to medical care for a pet, fees for an accidentally overdue bill or all sorts of unknown costs. If you have an emergency fund to draw on for those types of expenses, you may not need cruise insurance, but if you do not have extra funds, a good insurance policy may help you cover that type of hardship if you do need to cancel, and you may be able to get an easier, more complete refund.
If you lost the money invested in your cruise, could you absorb that expense without undue hardship?
Ultimately, the goal to buy cruise insurance – even though it is an extra expense when you plan your vacation – is to save money. If the worst were to happen and you were to lose the money for your cruise, you have to consider how much of a problem that would be for your overall budget, including any extra expenses caused by cancelations, travel changes or other issues that have affected your plans. If the cruise is not expensive and your risk of needing insurance is low, you may prefer not to spend the extra money. For a more expensive getaway, however, it may be a very worthwhile extra cost, especially if your lifestyle has many risk factors that could impact your cruise.
Only you can decide if cruise insurance would be a good investment for your travel plans, and carefully analyzing your budget, travel plans and potential difficulties you may face can help you make the right choice to protect your cruise with confidence.