How does cruise ship travel insurance work?

·6-min read
 (Unsplash)
(Unsplash)

Travel insurance and coronavirus

When buying travel insurance, check whether the policy provides cancellation cover that includes coronavirus risks, including if you fall ill or need to isolate before you travel. You should also have cover in case you fall ill (including with Covid) while you are away. Read the policy documents and check levels of cover with the insurer if you are not sure what protection is provided.

Going on a cruise is a great way to see a wealth of different sights without having to pack and unpack your suitcase between each destination.

You can glide around the Norwegian fjords, explore the islands of the Caribbean, tour the Mediterranean or even circumnavigate the globe if you’ve the time and the money.

But whatever your itinerary, your cruise could easily be disrupted by adverse weather conditions that delay your journey or stop you visiting one or more of the ports on the list.

That’s why cruise companies generally reserve the right to change their itineraries at any time.

It’s also one of the main reasons why it’s sensible to take out specialist cruise ship travel insurance before you sail into the sunset.

What is cruise ship travel insurance?

Cruise ship travel insurance, often known as cruise insurance, is a type of travel insurance designed specifically to protect you in situations that are unlikely to arise while you’re on a single-destination trip but which might well occur when you’re on a cruise.

Such situations could include:

  • having to be helicoptered to hospital for emergency medical treatment

You can get cruise cover by taking out standalone cruise insurance and also by paying an extra premium to add cruise cover to a conventional travel insurance policy.

Some providers even include cruise cover as standard, so it’s worth checking this if you already have an annual travel insurance policy in place.

Why do I need specialist insurance to go on a cruise?

As explained above, going on a cruise involves certain risks you are unlikely to need covered on a typical holiday.

Perhaps the biggest of these is that you’ll have to be airlifted to shore if you need hospital care due to an accident or sudden illness, and this may not be covered by a standard travel insurance policy.

Also, as many standard travel policies limit single trips to 31 days, you will also need specialist insurance to cover you for a cruise lasting more than one month.

Last but not least, you’ll often find that the cancellation cover offered by standard travel insurance is insufficient to cover the cost of a cruise – which could leave you out of pocket if you have to cancel your trip due to illness, for example.

What does cruise travel insurance cover?

The extra benefits associated with cruise ship travel insurance include:

  • cabin confinement: pays out if you’re told to stay in your cabin by the ship’s medical officer.

However, the level of cover offered varies from one policy to the next. Cabin confinement payments, for example, can be as little as £15 or as much as £1,000 a day. So check the protection provided meets your needs before you buy - you’ll need to balance the amount of cover you get with the cost of securing it.

What is not covered by cruise insurance?

As with standard travel insurance, cruise insurance will only pay out if your reason for making a claim was outside your control. If, for example, your luggage is stolen because you left it unattended, you’re unlikely to be able to make a claim.

Other common cruise ship travel insurance exclusions include:

  • travelling against government advice provided by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

  • medical treatment related to an undisclosed pre-existing condition

But remember that policy terms and conditions vary between insurers, so it’s sensible to check the exclusions before taking out cruise insurance.

What else should I check before buying cruise insurance?

Other features to look out for when booking cruise insurance include:

  • activities: are the activities you plan to do – both on board and on shore – covered?

As a general rule, it’s also a good idea to check you have medical cover of at least £1 million within Europe or £2 million worldwide.

Does cruise ship travel insurance cover pre-existing medical conditions?

Many cruise passengers are older people with the time to sail around exploring the world at their leisure, so cruise insurance providers are used to accommodating travellers with pre-existing health problems.

While treatment relating to undisclosed pre-existing medical conditions is often excluded by cruise insurance providers, you can therefore get cover for most conditions – as long as you are upfront about them.

Medical conditions you should always disclose when taking out cruise insurance include:

  • cancer.

If you’re unsure whether or not a condition needs to be disclosed, the best policy is to tell your insurer about it anyway – it could save you thousands of pounds if you need related care while you’re away.

How much does cruise ship travel insurance cost?

How much you have to pay for cruise insurance will depend on a number of factors, including your age and state of health, as well as how long you’re travelling for and where you are going.

Cruises that visit North America and the Caribbean, for example, often cost more to insure due to the high cost of medical treatment there.

If your cruise is deemed more likely to be affected by bad weather, for example because it’s in Arctic waters, you may also find you have to pay a higher premium for your travel insurance.

Can I take out group cruise ship travel insurance?

Yes, you can take out cruise insurance that covers you, you and your spouse or partner, you and your family, or you and a group of friends.

Just make sure you have their dates of birth and details of any pre-existing health conditions to hand when you’re ready to buy your cruise insurance.

Cruise policies do not generally impose an upper age limit, so you should be able to find cover for your friends or relatives whatever their age. However, travellers over the age of say 70 or 80 will push the cost of the policy up considerably, so it may prove cheaper to get separate cover for these individuals if you’re in a group.

How can I find the best cruise ship travel insurance?

You can cut the cost of cruise insurance by shopping around for the best deal. Just remember to take into account the level of cover provided – as well as the cost – when making your choice.

Things to check include:

  • excess you’ll have to pay towards any claim.

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