Avoid financial disaster at sea with cruise ship insurance - Get affordable cover even if you're a senior traveller or have a medical condition
Cruise travel insurance offers additional cover for a range of cruise related losses including missed cruise departure, cancelled shore excursions, cruise delays and emergency medical transportation.
Do I need international cover if taking a short cruise trip in Australian waters?
Many people don't realise that they won't actually be covered by Medicare or private health cover for any medical expenses if out at sea cruising between two domestic ports. With the cost of receiving treatment on board as much as $5,000, the bill for a medical event can stack up extremely quickly!
- Keep reading to learn more of the benefits of cruise travel insurance and what to look for in a policy or compare different cruise policy options in the table below.
Insurance companies that cover cruise trips
Why is it worth getting?
Any holiday can bring with it unforeseen losses but cruise holidays particularly bring to surface some expensive reasons to take out cover. Consider these points:
- You will not be covered by Medicare or private health insurance - As mentioned earlier, if you are travelling between domestic ports and suffer a medical event, you will not be covered by Medicare or Private Health Insurance
- Medical expenses incurred on cruises can be extremely expensive - The price of receiving treatment in a medical facility while on a cruise can be extremely high, often up to $5,000 a day
- What if you suffer an emergency at sea - If you suffer a severe medical condition at sea and need to be evacuated to a medical facility, the bill may end up in the hundreds of thousands of dollars
- Cruise holidays can be subject to cancellations - Travelling at sea can mean that you are subject to unexpected changes to itinerary if the weather turns ugly. Cruise travel cover can ensure you are reimbursed for any cancellations.
- What if you miss the boat? - Missed planes, bad traffic and bad weather among other events may lead to you being late to the port. Ensure you are covered if you have to cancel your cruise or you miss the departure.
But I'm only taking a short trip and staying in Australian waters?
As mentioned earlier, even if you are only taking a trip for say 2-3 days and staying in Australian waters, you WILL NOT be covered by Medicare or Private Health Insurance for medical losses that occur while cruising between ports. A policy for such a short period of time isn't going to be overly expensive and can give you the peace of mind you need to enjoy your cruise knowing the right protection is in place.Back to top
So what does it cover?
- Medical expenses if you become sick or injured. Accidents do happen, and dealing with a medical emergency when you’re a long way from a hospital can be a nightmare. Cruise travel insurance covers expensive medical expenses that are incurred while on the ship or at a land-based medical facility.
- Emergency evacuation to a land-based medical facility. If you’re struck down by a serious illness or injury while travelling, for example a heart attack or stroke, your cruise travel insurance policy will cover medical evacuation by road or air to the nearest appropriate medical facility, which could even include transport back home to Australia.
- If you miss your cruise. Provides cover for additional expenses incurred if you miss your cruise.
- If shore excursions are cancelled. Provides reimbursements for shore excursions that are cancelled/interrupted by the cruise liner.
- If your cruise is delayed. Provides cover for delays if your commencing or returning journey has been delayed for unforeseen reasons.
- Your confined to your cabin. Provides a daily allowance (usually between $50 - $100) if you are confined to your cabin for medical reasons.
- Your trip is interrupted. What happens if you’re halfway into your cruise around the South Pacific when the ship develops a critical mechanical problem and the trip is cancelled? Cruise travel insurance covers you in situations like these and you’ll be able to recoup your out-of-pocket expenses.
- You miss your cruise. Maybe you’re in a car accident on the way to the port, or perhaps your flight is delayed and you end up missing the ship. Travel insurance covers these sort of unfortunate delays and issues.
- You need to cancel your trip. As mentioned above, if something happens and you are forced to cancel your holiday before it even begins — things like illness, accidents and job loss — travel insurance can cover your non-refundable trip costs so you don’t end up out of pocket.
- Your baggage is lost or delayed. What happens if an airline misplaces or loses your luggage, leaving you to board the ship with only the clothes on your back? Travel insurance can make sure your bags make it to the next port, or cover the loss if your bags are gone for good.
- Your cruise liner goes bankrupt. If one of the travel providers you’ve booked your holiday through goes bankrupt, some policies will cover you. Make sure to read the fine print; don’t simply assume this feature will be included in your policy.
What won't my cruise policy cover?
When shopping for cruise travel insurance, it’s vital that you read the fine print first to make sure you know exactly what your coverage entails. You don’t want to find yourself stuck overseas somewhere trying to deal with an unforeseen problem, only to get the nasty surprise that your insurance policy will leave you high and dry. The following are generally not covered by cruise travel insurance policies:
- Incidents related to drugs or alcohol. Don’t expect the insurance company to come to your rescue if you’ve done something reckless while under the influence of alcohol or left your baggage unattended. The same applies to problems resulting from illegal behaviour.
- Claims while docked in an Australian port. Some providers will not cover you for incident's that have occurred while you have been booked in an Australian port for more than 48 hours.
- Claims in countries advised against travel. Most providers will exclude claims that have occurred in countries that have had travel warnings issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
- Certain adventure activities. If you want to indulge in high-octane pursuits like BASE jumping, skydiving and hang gliding, feel free — just be aware that most policies don’t cover these activities. Always best to check your policy to see exactly what activities you are covered for.
- Certain pre-existing medical conditions. These may be excluded, unless you’ve made a specific arrangement with the insurer. See the list below for conditions that won't usually be automatically covered.
- Other common exclusions. Acts of civil unrest, acts of war or acts of terrorism that disrupt your holiday will usually not be covered by travel insurance policies.
As always, shop around to make sure you’re getting the best type of coverage for your situation and the holiday you’re planning.Back to top
Can I get cruise travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions?
Like when taking out travel insurance for any trip, you will need to let your insurer know of any pre-existing conditions that you have. If you have a medical condition it may;
- Be covered automatically
- Require you to provide more information to the insurer about the condition
- Result in you paying a higher premium to get cover
- Be excluded from your policy
How your condition is treated may vary between insurers so always read the PDS and call your insurer if you are not sure.
What is a Pre-Existing Medical Condition?
- Ongoing medical or dental condition that you are aware of or are aware of the symptoms
- Medical or dental condition currently being treated
- Conditions that you take prescribed medication for
- Condition that you have undertaken surgery for
- Condition that has required you to see a medical specialist
What Conditions Generally Won’t Be Covered?
- If you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. In some cases an insurer will stipulate that the policyholder have a prognosis of, for example, more than 24 months to live.
- If you have AIDS or HIV.
- If the claim is in relation to a condition for which you sought treatment and were hospitalised or had to be taken into the hospital emergency ward. Again, insurers stipulate a timeframe for whence this had happened.
- If the condition was symptomatic. This means that you will not be covered if you were aware of symptoms even if you did not go to a doctor, had gone to a doctor who was investigating the illness or, you were awaiting a specialist's opinion,
- If you have undergone surgery for the condition in a timeframe as specified by your insurer.
- If you have been diagnosed with, suffer from or received treatment for a cardiovascular condition. These conditions may include: angina, a pacemaker, TIA and congestive heart failure.
- If you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure in conjunction with diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
- If you suffer a pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis
- If you suffer from diabetes and you have been diagnosed in the 12 months prior to travel. If you have Type 1 diabetes and are over the age of 50. You will also not be covered for diabetes related injuries that result in kidney, nerve, eye or vascular complications. You will not be covered if you have diabetes and a cardiovascular disease.
- If you suffer from a sexually transmitted disease.
- If you suffer from any type of cancer or secondary cancer.
- If you suffer from recurring or chronic pain.
Can I get cruise travel insurance if I am pregnant?
Terms and conditions from insurance providers around pregnancy can vary quite extensively so it's important to read the fine print before signing away. There are a number of insurers that will cover women up to 26 weeks pregnant, with a number of insurers offering cover until 32 weeks. If you are expecting, you can still purchase cover after the maximum gestation limit but you will not be covered for losses related to the pregnancy.
Some common exclusions applied for pregnancy include;
- Complications that arise out of the pregnancy
- Tip goes longer than the period of pregnancy permitted on policy schedule
- Childbirth or healthcare of newborn child excluded
Case study: Banged up aboard
Judy was travelling with her partner John on a two month cruise when she slipped down a set of stairs while walking on the cruise deck and broke her ankle. With the closest Australian port with a medical facility more that 2 days travel away, Judy was forced to recover in the cruise ships medical quarters until she was able to be transported off the cruise.
Judy was shocked to find that the daily cost of treatment on the cruise liner was nearly $5,000 a day and being in open waters between domestic ports meant that Judy was not covered under Medicare or Private Health Insurance. Luckily, Judy had taken out travel insurance prior to commencing her journey and was able to be reimbursed for the treatment on the cruise ship and transportation to the nearest medical facility.
Can I get cruise travel insurance if I am an Australian expat working overseas?
Unfortunately, most insurers will require for your trip to start and finish in Australia in order for cover to apply. There are some providers that offer "already overseas travel insurance" but again, most will require for your journey to end in Australia.
If you are an Australian expat currently living overseas and looking to take a cruise that does not start or end in Australia, there are still some options available for you;
- Find a specialist insurer willing to provide cover even though you are already overseas
- Take out cover with the cruise ship provider (conditions on providing cover to foreigners may vary between providers
- Take out cover with a travel insurance provider based in the country you are boarding
How am I covered for cancellation by the cruise company and travel insurance?
When will the cruise company cover me for cancellation?
All cruise company will have terms and conditions in place around when you will be covered for cancellation. This will vary between insurers but to give you an idea of how this may work, consider the example below from P&O cruises;
|Dates prior to departure of cruise ship cancellation is made||Cancellation charge applied|
|181 days or more||Full refund provided|
|180 - 76 days||Deposit amount charged|
|75 - 43 days||25% of total fare charged|
|42 - 15 days||50% of total fare charged|
|14 days or less||100% of total fare charged|
When will travel insurance cover me for cancellation charges from the cruise company?
Conditions will vary between insurers though generally you will be covered if you have to cancel your trip due to;
- Your own or your relative, business associate or travelling companions unforeseeable death, injury or illness
- Jury duty
- Your duty to stay in Australia due to emergency as a member of armed forces, police, fire ambulance or nursing
- You are made redundant and were unaware you were going to be made redundant when booking your trip
- You have to stay in Australia due to natural disaster at your home or business on the day you leave
- Your doctor advises you are unfit to travel due to a medical condition that has surfaced after you have booked your trip
Cancellation due to medical reasons of friend/family
You will not be covered for cancellation due directly or indirectly to medical conditions that affects a close relative or someone travelling with you that is not insured under the policy you knew about before taking out the policy
Bad weather and unexpected circumstances
While conditions will vary between different cruise companies, cruise companies will have a minimum number of guests required for shore excursions and trips may be cancelled if that number is not met. Shore excursions may also be cancelled due to bad wad weather. In this case, a full refund will usually be paid by the cruise company.
What if I decide to cancel my shore excursion?
Again this will vary between insurers but generally if you give 72 hours notice a full refund will be provided by the cruise company. Cancellations within 72 hours may mean that a portion of the charge must still be paid to the cruise company.Back to top
What policy do I need if the cruise stops in multiple destinations?
The region will depend on where you are travelling to on the cruise. Most insurers offer;You will need to select the appropriate region for your cruise based on the destinations you are travelling to. Selecting the domestic cover option will not be enough as you will not be covered by Medicare or private health care on the cruise ship so international cover will be needed.
- Worldwide: All destinations (including, Japan, USA, Canada, Africa, and the Middle East
- Europe: Europe, Russia and the United Kingdom
- Asia: Asia (Excluding Russia and Japan)
- Pacific: New Zealand, Bali, South West Pacific and Norfolk Island
Benefits and drawbacks of cruise trip cover
- Spending a little extra when booking can save you a lot of money (and stress) in the long run.
- Things can and quite often do go wrong on holidays, and cruise travel insurance can protect you against unforeseen problems. Whether it’s a missed connection, lost baggage or even an emergency medical situation, travel insurance can come in very handy.
- You’re safeguarded against financial loss. Travel insurance can help you recoup non-refundable trip costs when you’re forced to cancel your holiday.
- Some policies will include cover for your children as well.
- Some cruise companies will not even allow you to travel without having travel insurance for the entire length of your holiday. Not only is cruise travel insurance a wise investment, it’s also a necessary one.
- Some policies include limits on valuables, so if your expensive laptop or tablet gets stolen while travelling, you might not be fully reimbursed for those items.
- Keep an eye out for exclusions. Most travel policies will not cover you in certain situations, for example if you’re behaving recklessly or participating in adventure activities, so make sure you know exactly what your policy includes.
- Travel insurance will not cover changes to your trip itinerary.
- When examining the premium and excess you will have to pay, make sure the amount you are paying reflects the quality of the cover.
Cruise travel insurance from a cruise company vs. travel insurance company
Most cruise liners will offer their own travel insurance to passengers. If you are considering this option it is critical you get a clear understanding of what exactly is covered and read the product disclosure statement closely. Travel Insurance offered from cruise companies is usually quite basic in the level of cover provided to that offered from insurance companies.
In addition, if you considering cover from a cruise company, make sure the policy is underwritten by a licensed and well-known insurance provider. The last thing you need if you suffer a loss on the seas is a company with a poor claims procedure, bad customer service or insufficient financial backing.
Should I buy cruise travel insurance through my travel agent?
You may be organising your cruise trip through your travel agent and have the option of taking out travel insurance through them. While this may be convenient at the time, it's crucial to be aware of the drawbacks of purchasing cover through an agent;
- As travel agents earn commission payments off the different insurance providers, the cost that you will pay is much higher. A recent study from finder.com.au found that in most cases, cover was nearly twice as much when purchased through an agent
- Travel agents are restricted in the number of policies that they have access to so you might not be getting the best deal for your trip. By taking some extra time to compare other options available you may not only save on your cover but get one more suited to your trip
How much should I pay?
If you are taking a cruise for longer than a weekend, the cost of a basic policy usually falls between 5 and 9 percent of the cost of the cruise trip. That said, prices vary between providers and will be dependent on a number of different factors including;
- Your age
- The destination you are travelling to
- Any pre-existing medical conditions you may have
- The duration of your trip
- The type of policy and features chosen. Policy add-ons and features like upgraded coverage limits can affect the price.
- The number of people covered under the policy
- The total cost of your trip
- The activities you will be participating in while travelling
It pays to shop around to find the right policy and the best deal for you, but don’t simply be sucked in by the provider offering the cheapest price. Make sure you know exactly what your policy covers so you don’t end up with a nasty surprise later on that will completely ruin your holiday.
To get an idea of what you may pay for cover, consider the example quotes for a 10 day cruise from Insureandgo in the table below;
|Region||New Zealand, Pacific and Bali||New Zealand, Pacific and Bali||New Zealand, Pacific and Bali||New Zealand, Pacific and Bali|
|Trip Duration||10 days||10 days||10 days||10 days|
|Age of Traveller||55||75||55||75|
*Prices accurate March 2015 and are subject to change
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How do I choose between policies?
- Watch out for hefty commission charges. It’s no secret that travel agents get big commissions from insurers for selling their policies, so cut out the middle man and go direct to the insurer. Head online to find the right cruise travel insurance policy for you.
- Read the fine print. Yes, it may be boring to the point of being physically painful, but take the time to read the Product Disclosure Statement thoroughly. Don’t be sucked in by the marketing slogans and flashy websites; read the policy booklet well and examine what is covered. You’ll likely be visiting multiple countries on a cruise, so check your policy will cover you at every destination.
- Check the exclusions. “But I didn’t know it wasn’t covered” is an excuse that won’t fly with your insurer. If you’re an adventure junkie, does your policy cover things like skydiving and bungee jumping? If you’re planning on hiring a scooter or a motorbike at one of the ports you stop at, will this be included in your coverage? Also make sure to check the medical coverage closely when determining what is excluded from your policy. Sort this out first and you won’t get caught out later.
- Medical excess charges. Look for a policy with a high coverage limit on your medical care. You want to make sure your hospital bills are covered so you can get the best possible care. It also makes sense to look for a policy that covers emergency evacuation.
- Plan ahead. It’s impossible to predict the future, but if you’re travelling to a notoriously unstable country or one perhaps famous for its volcanoes, check each policy to see what exclusions would apply in possible scenarios.
- Know your excess charge. Excess charges can vary greatly between insurers with some providers charging as much as $500 per claim. Know exactly what you will be charged and if there is the option to remove the charge at the beginning of your trip.
- Read reviews and compare. Hit the online forums to see what other people have to say about their experiences with cruise travel insurance. Read product reviews and utilise comparison websites like finder.com.au.
Q. Do I really need cruise travel insurance?
A. Yes. The old saying that “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel” is more than just a cliché. Travel insurance will save you money, time and a whole lot of stress should your best-laid holiday plans fall apart, and cruise travel insurance is specifically tailored to cover common problems that may occur on cruising holidays.
Q. What do travel insurance companies recognise as a cruise?
A. A cruise is travel on sea, ocean or river by a boat, commercial ship or any other vessel
Q. What happens if the cruise company reschedules my trip?
A. Contact your insurance provider and they can assist you in adjusting the dates of your policy.
Q. What happens if I miss the departure of the cruise?
A. most policies will cover you for missed departure and pay for any necessary additional accommodation and travel expenses if you miss the departure of your cruise for reasons outside of your control.
Q. Am I covered if I loose my luggage or it is stolen before I board the cruise?
A. You will generally be covered for a period of 72 hours for loss of luggage from the time that you leave your residence to the time that you board your cruise. Conditions for when you will be covered may vary between insurers.
Q. What sorts of things does cruise travel insurance cover?
A. Cruise travel insurance policies will typically cover things like:
- Your medical expenses if you fall ill or are injured while travelling
- Emergency evacuation if you need to be transported to hospital
- Trip interruption and delay due to things like missed connecting flights
- Trip cancellation due to factors like illness or job loss
- Baggage delay and/or loss
Q. What if I have specialist needs?
A. The best thing to do is to read the fine print and speak to your insurer. Some policies won’t cover things like adventure activities or if you are pregnant, so you may need to look into adding additional coverage to make sure you’re protected.
Q. When should I buy cruise travel insurance?
A. Your best bet is to take out cover as soon as you have booked and paid for your trip, or at least forked out for a deposit. This way you are covered if you are forced to cancel the trip of if your travel company or airline goes broke, allowing you to recoup your prepaid costs and deposits.
Q. Will I be covered for scuba diving/snorkelling and other sports on my cruise?
Most travel insurance companies will provide automatic cover for a range of activities including;
- Scuba diving
- Jet skiing
Most insurers will not provide automatic cover for open-water sailing. If you plan on doing this on your trip you may be required to take out additional cover.
Q. If my cruise stops in a country for one day, do I need cover for that one country?
Yes, it is best to look at taking out a worldwide policy to ensure you are covered across different regions
Q. Can I get cruise travel insurance for a one way trip?
Yes. There are a number of insurers that offer travel insurance for one way trips where your trip does not finish in Australia. Conditions may vary between insurers so be sure to check the PDS prior to travelling
Q. Do I need cruise travel insurance if I am taking a trip on my own boat?
No. You can take out international single trip or annual multi-trip cover. You will not be covered for the additional losses faced by passengers on commercial vessels.
Q. When should I purchase cover for my cruise trip?
It is best to purchase cover as soon as you make any bookings for your trip. This does not mean that you will pay from the date that you purchase cover, just for the days of your trip
Q. I'm heading away on a long overseas trip...Will I be covered for my cruise?
If you’re heading overseas for an extended period of time, it may be worthwhile checking whether or not you’ll be covered for cruise travel. Many insurers do not cover cruise travel as a standard option on their single or annual multi-trip policies, which is why it’s important to check before you head overseas.
Cruise travel Insurance claims - What to do if you have an emergency on board or on shore?
Q. What do I do if I get sick or injured on board?
A. Notify a member of crew immediately and receive appropriate medical attention via the cruise ships medical facility. If necessary, you may be transported to the nearest land-based medical facility. It is best to contact your insurer as soon as possible to let them know about your condition and find out exactly what evidence they may require in order for your claim to be approved. It is likely you will be required to obtain documentation from a representative of the crew.
Most insurers will cover you for costs incurred while you are confined to the cruises medical facility and/or your cabin while you reach the nearest port.
Q. What if my condition means that I have to be repatriated?
A. Again, most insurers will cover you for medical repatriation from your cruise ship if necessary. If possible, contact your insurer of your situation and try to find out what information they will require from you for your claim to be successful.
Q. Will I be paid for additional costs if my condition requires me to be confined to my cabin?
A. If the nature of your injury/illness means that you are confined to your cabin for a number of days, most insurers will cover the necessary additional costs to a maximum daily limit.
Q. How do I actually make a claim?
- Contact your insurer - either by phone, email or online chat
- Obtain a claim form from insurers website
- Complete claim form and return either online or by mail with any necessary documentation
- Provide any additional information insurer may require to verify your claim
- Await for response from insurer
- Most insurers will require you to submit your claim within a certain period of having returned home - usually about 30 days
- It's worth checking with your insurer to find out exactly what information may be required in the event of a claim
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Handy cruise travel tips
- Find out what region your cruise will be heading to
- Compare different policy options and make sure the price matches the cover provided
- Get a clear understanding of the schedule of your ship - know when you will be departing so you don't get left behind at port!
- Know the ships emergency procedures
- Give yourself plenty of time to get to the departure terminal
- Register your trip with SmartTraveller
- Let someone back home know about your travel plans
- Print out a copy of your itineracy and policy document
- Make sure you cover any expensive items in your insurance policy
Who can apply for cover? Maximum age?
How old can I be to take out cruise cover? Can I get cover if I am over 65?
Age limits may vary between providers but generally cover is available to anyone up to 100 years of age. That said, travellers over the age of 50 will usually be required to pay a higher premium in order to take out cover.
Travellers over the age of 70 will usually be required to complete a manual pre-existing medical condition form for their insurance provider before being approved for cover.
Applicants must be over the age of 18 to purchase cover. If you are under the age of 18, your guardian may be able to purchase cover on your behalf.
Can I take out cover if I am already overseas?
Some Australian insurers will offer cover for Australian’s that are already travelling overseas. There are some key points to be aware of if you are considering this option;
- Some (not all) providers will require your trip to end in Australia
- There is usually a waiting period applied for claims related to injury or illness. This is usually around 5 days
- Excess may not be able to be removed
Ready to purchase cover for your cruise?
If you are gearing up for your next cruise holiday and are not quite sure what policy to apply for, you can compare policies from the providers featured in the table above and receive a preliminary quote. Once you have found a policy suitable for your situation and are happy with the price, you can purchase your cover securely online in a matter of minutes. Before rushing to your wallet to hand over your card details, finder.com.au recommends you take the time to read through the product disclosure statement to ensure you are happy the policies terms and conditions.
*$30 price is based on a 2 day cruise for 1 adult aged 25 years of age in with cover for New Zealand, Pacific and Bali