Travelers so often ask, “Should I buy travel insurance?” that we’ve written about the subject more than once. And if you’re going on a cruise, you’ll probably find yourself wondering about cruise travel insurance. Is it worth it for you and your travel companions? The short answer is yes. Here’s why.
1. Cruises are expensive.
Never is the adage ‘time is money’ more apt than while on vacation. Cruise vacations are expensive, and missing 1-2 days of your sailing time due to unforeseen or unavoidable circumstances can mean a loss of 20% of your 10-day cruise. Chances are, you shopped around for the best price for your cruise, and 20% isn’t an amount you’re comfortable throwing away.
2. Cruise vacations typically require several legs of transportation to and from the ship’s port.
Everyone knows that the more layovers a traveler has on an itinerary, the more things can go wrong. Even if you’re able to book a direct flight to your port, you still have to drive there, either by renting a car or taking a shuttle service or taxi. This may or may not require an overnight or rental agreement, either of which could get delayed, overbooked, or lost, leading to a potential late arrival to your ship. I don’t want to sound like an alarmist — I’m a positive person and choose to believe things will go right on 99% of vacations — but why invite stress on what should be a relaxing trip? Unless you’re able to drive your own car to your port, travel insurance is a smart purchase.
3. Cruises don’t wait for travelers.
Cruises tend to stay on schedule, a favorable trait… provided you’re on the ship when it departs. But if a weather emergency has delayed you, or a medical problem has caused you to take an extra day elsewhere, you’re out of luck. You can’t stop the ship from departing, but you can be reimbursed for the time missed with cruise insurance.
4. Most travelers book cruises well in advance.
Advanced planning when it comes to travel is a good thing, of course, but it also means that there’s plenty of time for unforeseen problems to arise. When you booked that cruise last December, the following August seemed so far away, but now it’s rapidly approaching and you’re stuck in a cast. If you’re booking a cruise last minute, cruise insurance may not be crucial, but if a lot of time will pass between your booking date and your cruise date, be on the safe side.
What cruise insurance won’t cover:
1. Bad weather.
While your cruise insurance will cover weather-related incidents that prevent you from getting to your cruise, it will not cover 10 straight days of rain in Fiji. Sorry.
2. A change of mind.
To cancel your cruise without penalty, you need more than ‘I just decided not to go’ on your side. This includes circumstances that cause the cruise to be unexpectedly too expensive, such as the loss of a job. Make sure the cruise is really the vacation you want to book before buying, and that you have enough set aside for it.
3. ‘Free’ aspects of your itinerary, such as frequent flier miles.
It hardly seems fair, since you earned them, but frequent flier miles or other loyalty program perks are not covered by cruise insurance. Ditto for comped items for any reason. Why? They’re not considered to have ‘value’.
What type of cruise insurance to buy:
You know you need it, but what type to buy? Skip the insurance offered directly from your cruise line. Yes, it’s convenient, but it’s likely overpriced. Also pass by secondary insurance that only kicks in after your primary pays out; you could be waiting a long time for your claim to be settled. Don’t rely on your homeowner’s insurance: it will only cover your possessions, not your medical needs.
Pick a primary cruise insurance that covers medical (including evacuation) and covers your children (if applicable). Insurance bought through your credit card company can be a good choice, but make sure you can pay bills with any card, not just theirs.
We recommend travel insurance any time your trip will take you out of the country, is planned far in advance, and is of considerable expense for your budget. In most cases, insurance is less than 5% of your vacation cost, making it well-worth the peace of mind it brings.
Also be sure to read 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Travel Insurance, which covers topics like the cost of travel insurance, whether travelers need to pay costs up-front, and what — exactly — the insurance in question covers.
Do you buy cruise travel insurance when you cruise? Is it worth it for you? If so, which type do you purchase?