Avoid financial disaster at sea with cruise insurance for international or domestic trips
It’s no secret Australians love to take cruise trips. In fact, in 2014 alone, there were over 1 million cruise passengers leaving Australian shores. But, like any trip, things can go wrong and if they do it sure can be expensive to deal with. The daily cost of receiving medical treatment on board a cruise is as much as $5,000 alone, yikes!
Cruise travel insurance provides protection for a whole range of offshore mishaps including:
- You need offshore medical assistance or evacuation (even within Australian waters)
- You miss your cruise
- Your cruise is delayed due to bad weather
- Shore excursions you have already paid for are cancelled
Keep reading to learn more about getting cruise travel insurance for your trip and how it actually works.
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Is cruise travel insurance even different to regular travel insurance?
While most international travel insurance policies will automatically cover cruise trips, there are some policies that offer additional cover for cruise related losses. Some providers will require you to buy a "Cruise Pack" to be covered for cruise trips. The cruise pack can provide extra cover for:
- 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 trip insurance covers expensive medical expenses 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 such as a heart attack or stroke, your policy will cover medical evacuation by road or air to the nearest appropriate medical facility. This could even include transport back home to Australia.
- If you miss your cruise. You will be covered for additional expenses if you miss your cruise due to reasons such as a car accident on the way to the port or delayed flights.
- If shore excursions are cancelled. You can enjoy reimbursements for shore excursions that are cancelled or interrupted by the cruise liner.
- If your cruise is delayed. You can be covered for delays if your commencing or returning journey has been delayed for unforeseen reasons.
- You're confined to your cabin. You can receive a daily allowance (usually $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 need to cancel your trip. 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 formal cruise attire is lost or damaged. This will provide cover for replacement or hire costs if your formal wear is stolen, damaged or lost. Cover will only be provided if the attire was intended to be worn on the cruise.
- 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 assume this feature will be included in your policy.
Why else is cruise cover worth getting?
Any holiday can bring with it unforeseen losses but cruise holidays particularly bring to surface some expensive reasons to take out cover. In fact, Cruise travel reportedly accounted for some of the largest travel insurance claims of 2015. Consider these points:
- Cruise lines recommend you take out travel insurance. Most of the major cruise lines operating in Australia recommend you take out travel insurance with a standalone provider when purchasing your cruise trip. Some will offer their own policies but these often offer a more basic level of cover for a similar price.
- 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 of shore excursions or other expenses you paid for prior to travel.
- 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. You will also be reimbursed for the cost of transportation to your cruise lines first port of call.
- Travel insurance policies from cruise lines are generally more restrictive. Some cruise lines offer their own insurance policies but beware these are usually far more restrictive in the events that will be covered.
- You may need to leave the cruise for emergencies back home. Your two weeks into a six-week cruise in the middle of the pacific and receive word your father has passed away. Cruise travel insurance will cover the costs of your return home from the next port of call and the unused portion of your cruise trip that you had to cut short.
Am I also covered for flights and time spent before, during or after my cruise?
Yes, your cruise policy works much the same as any other travel insurance policy. You are covered for the regions listed on your policy for the dates that you have selected. This means you will be covered for:
- Flights overseas to the country that you are boarding your cruise trip from.
- The days that you spend in the destination that your cruise leaves from.
- Days following in your "drop-off" destination.
This means that you will be covered for other losses not necessarily cruise-related i.e. car rental excess cover, loss of luggage and hotel cancellations.Back to top
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 you will be covered for. 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 drugs or alcohol on your trip.
- Claims while docked in an Australian port. Some providers will not cover you for incidents 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 (DFAT).
- 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 check your policy to see exactly what activities are covered.
- 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.
- Luggage left unattended. You will not be covered for lost or stolen luggage and personal items if you leave your luggage unattended.
- Other common exclusions. Acts of civil unrest, war or terrorism that disrupt your holiday are usually not covered by travel insurance policies.
Can I get cruise ship insurance if I am pregnant?
Terms and conditions from insurance providers around pregnancy can vary, so it's important to read the fine print before signing away. There are some insurers that will cover women up to 26th week of pregnancy, with a number of insurers offering cover until the 32nd week of pregnancy. 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
- Trip goes longer than the period of pregnancy permitted on policy schedule
- Childbirth or healthcare of newborn child
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. The closest Australian port with a medical facility was more than two days travel away, so Judy was forced to recover in the cruise ship's 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 over $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 before commencing her journey and was reimbursed for the treatment on the cruise ship and transportation to the nearest medical facility.
Can I get cover for a cruise if I'm 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 most of those policies will require for your journey to end in Australia. If you’re 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 to 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 the cruise from
How am I covered for cancellation by the cruise company and travel insurance?
When will the cruise company cover me for cancellation?
All cruise companies have terms and conditions in place around when you will be covered for cancellation. This will vary between insurers, but here’s an example from P and O cruises;
|Days 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, although you will generally be covered if you have to cancel your trip due to:
- The unforeseeable death, injury or illness of yourself, a relative, business associate or travelling companions.
- 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 a friend or family member. You will not be covered if you have to cancel your trip because a relative or travelling companion suffers a pre-existing medical condition.
- Bad weather and unexpected circumstances. While conditions will vary, cruise companies generally require a minimum number of guests for shore excursions, so those excursions may be cancelled if that number is not met. Shore excursions may also be cancelled due to bad weather. In this case, the cruise company will usually pay a full refund.
- What if I decide to cancel my shore excursion? This this will vary between insurers. 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.
What policy do I need if the cruise stops in multiple destinations?
The region you should choose for your policy will depend on where you are travelling to on the cruise. 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. Most insurers will recommend you select Pacific as your region if taking a cruise in Australian waters in order to be covered for Emergency Medical Expenses.
- 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
You will be covered automatically for stopovers up to 48 hours. If you’re in a region for longer than 48 hours, you must ensure it’s also listed on your policy.
Am I covered for the flights and accommodation for the days before I leave the port?
This will depend on policy you choose and the period of cover you have selected on your insurance. Provided you extend travel cover period for the days before your cruise also, you will be covered for losses that occur prior to your cruise trip commencing that you are eligible to claim for. This may include;
- Cancellation of connecting flights to the destination that your cruise departs from
- Cancellation of accommodation booked for nights prior to your cruise departure
- Loss, theft or damage to your belongings in the period leading up to departure
The actual cover provided for losses incurred prior to the cruise in Australia may vary between insurers, so it's best to check your product disclosure statement (PDS) before travelling to know exactly what your cover includes.Back to top
How much does cruise travel insurance cost?
If you are taking a cruise for longer than a weekend, the cost of a basic policy usually falls between 5 and 9% of the cost of the cruise trip. That said, prices vary between providers and will be dependent on a number of different factors including;
- Whether you get a policy with cruise-cover extension
- 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
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 changeBack to top
How do I choose between policies?
- Is cruise travel automatically covered or offered as additional cover? Some providers will offer cruise cover automatically while others will charge an additional premium. Find out exactly what you are covered for and make sure the price matches the quality of cover.
- What region do you need to choose? Yes, it may be boring to the point of being physically painful, but take the time to read the PDS thoroughly. Don’t be sucked in by the marketing slogans and flashy websites; read the policy booklet and examine what is covered. You’ll likely be visiting multiple countries on a cruise, so check that your policy will cover you at every destination.
- What won't you be covered for? “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.
- Are you covered for emergency medical expenses and evacuation? 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.
- How much will you be charged for a claim? Travel insurance 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.
- How have other people’s experiences been dealing with the cruise line? 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.
Some questions about cruise cover you probably have
I'm still deciding if I actually need it
Do I really need cruise travel insurance?
Yes. The old saying that “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel” rings true for cruise travel. 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.
Do I need travel insurance if I'm 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.
What do travel insurance companies recognise as a cruise?
- A cruise is travel on sea, ocean or river by a boat, commercial ship or any other vessel.
What if I have specialist needs?
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.
Can I get cruise travel insurance if I have a pre-existing condition?
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
- You may be required to provide more information to the insurer about the condition
- You may be charged a higher premium to have the condition covered
- It may be excluded from your policy
How your condition is treated may vary between insurers, so always read the product disclosure statement (PDS) and call your insurer if you’re 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
- Conditions that you have undertaken surgery for
- Conditions that have required you to see a medical specialist
When should I buy cover?
Your best bet is to take out cover as soon as you have booked and paid for all or part of your trip. This way, you are covered if you are forced to cancel the trip or if the travel company or airline goes broke, allowing you to recoup your prepaid costs and deposits. Learn more about when to book travel insurance.
I'm taking an international cruise and stopping in multiple countries? Do I need cover for each location?
Travel insurance provides automatic cover for stopovers up to 48 hours. If your cruise stops in different regions for longer than 48 hours, you will need to ensure that region is also covered on your policy.
Can I get cruise travel insurance for a one-way cruise?
It will depend on the policy that you choose. There are a number of travel insurance policies that offer cover for one-trips while others will require your journey to end in Australia. You can compare one-way travel insurance options here.
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, check whether or not you’ll be covered for cruise travel. Many insurers do not cover cruise travel as a standard option on their single-trip or annual multi-trip policies, which is why it’s important to check before you head overseas.
When am I actually covered?
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
What happens if the cruise company reschedules my trip?
- Contact your insurance provider to adjust the dates of your policy.
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.
Am I covered if I lose 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.
Will I be covered for scuba diving/snorkelling and other sports on my cruise?
- A. Most travel insurance companies will provide automatic cover for a range of activities including:
- Scuba diving
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.
Will I be covered for Norovirus on my cruise?
- A. Norovirus is an extremely common cause of virus that causes gastroenteritis. The close proximity of cruise ships has lead to a number of outbreaks in recent years. In December of 2015 182 passengers aboard the Explorer of the seas cruise line docked in Sydney fell ill of the virus. In the event you suffer Norovirus, travel insurance will cover you provided you are forced to cancel your trip before you board or cut your trip short.
If something does go wrong
What do I do if I get sick or injured on board?
- Notify a member of crew immediately and seek appropriate medical attention via the cruise ship’s medical facility.
- If necessary, you may be transported to the nearest land-based medical facility.
- Inform your insurer as soon as possible about your condition and find out exactly what evidence may be required in order for your claim to be approved.
- Obtain documentation from a representative of the crew.
- Most insurers will cover you for costs incurred while you are confined to the cruise ship’s medical facility or your cabin until you reach the nearest port.
What if my condition means that I have to be repatriated?
Most insurers will cover you for medical repatriation from your cruise ship if necessary. If possible, inform your insurer of your situation and try to find out what information will be required from you for your claim to be successful.
Will I be paid for additional costs if my condition requires me to be confined to my cabin?
If the nature of your injury or 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.
How do I actually make a claim?
- Contact your insurer by phone, email or online chat
- Obtain a claim form from the insurer’s website
- Complete the claim form and sent it to the insurer 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
Ready to board? here're some final cruise travel tips
- Find out what region your cruise will be heading to.
- Determine what the correct region is to select for your travel insurance.
- 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 SmarTraveller.
- Let someone back home know about your travel plans.
- Print out a copy of your itinerary and policy document.
- Make sure you cover any expensive items in your insurance policy.
Who can apply for cover and what's the 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 cover is generally available to anyone up to 100 years of age. That said, travellers over the age of 50 are usually required to pay a higher premium. Travellers over the age of 70 will usually be required to complete a manual pre-existing medical condition form before being approved for 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 to Australians who that are already overseas. There are some key points to be aware of if you are considering this option:
- Some providers will require your trip to end in Australia
- There is usually a waiting period of around 5 days applied for claims related to injury or illness
- 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 you’re not quite sure what policy to apply for, you can compare policies from the providers featured in the table at the top of the page and receive a preliminary quote. Once you’ve found a policy suitable for your situation and you’re 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’re happy with the terms and conditions.
*$24 price is based on a 3 day cruise for 1 adult aged 25 years of age in with cover for Pacific Region. This price is for the Fast Cover Medical Only policy.