Old couple on cruise ship deck

Cruise Travel Insurance for Seniors

Why do seniors need to make sure they have travel insurance before heading away on a cruise?

Cruise travel insurance for seniors should be something you take out as a matter of course. On-board treatment and medical evacuations at sea are two of the most costly and most claimed expenses, and they could end up costing you your life savings if you don’t have cruise cover.

This guide looks at the specific risks encountered when cruising as a senior and how to go about finding the right travel cover for your next cruise.

Compare Cruise Travel Insurance Policies for Seniors

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DID YOU KNOW

The top five insurance claims of 2015

  • Overseas medical expense
  • Lost or damaged baggage
  • Cancellation fees
  • Theft of cash
  • Travel delay

Tip: Most comprehensive policies can cover you for all five!

What does cruise travel insurance for seniors cover?

Travel insurance costs more for seniors because insurers believe they are more likely to suffer an age-related illness or injury. While some see this as a deterrent to purchasing seniors cruise travel insurance, it should actually be viewed as an incentive. After all, insurers are in the business of calculating risk, and if they think you are statistically more likely to make a claim, then they’re probably right. It’s better to be covered, even if it does cost you a little more upfront.

Cruise travel insurance for seniors provides cover for overseas emergency medical and hospital treatment, which can be prohibitively expensive in some countries. A typical policy will also protect you from trip cancellations, baggage losses, additional expenses, hire car excess and personal liability.

Cruise travel insurance for seniors offers additional benefits such as:

  • Medical treatment and/or evacuation at sea
  • Cruise cancellation or curtailment due to bad weather or engine trouble
  • Cruise cancellation due to illness, injury or emergency at home
  • Missed departure due to circumstances beyond your control and transportation costs to your first port of call
  • Cabin confinement due to illness during the cruise

Clearly, due to the variety of risks senior travellers are exposed to and their increased risk of making a claim, travel insurance is important to have, especially if you’re going on a cruise.

What risks do cruise travellers face that normal travellers don't?

Cruise travellers are exposed to a number of risks that don’t apply to regular travellers.

  • No Medicare cover in Australia waters. As soon as the ship sets sail for a foreign port, even though it might still be in Australian waters, Medicare is generally not available to cruise passengers. Medical treatment in a ship’s sick bay could cost up to $5,000 a day, so not having cruise cover could quickly become an expensive nightmare.
  • Medivac is prohibitively expensive. If you have to be evacuated to the nearest land-based hospital, Medivac fees can be horrendously expensive, and accommodation fees in a foreign hospital often require an upfront guarantee of payment. It’s hard to imagine not having cruise cover in these situations. Let’s not forget, as a senior, this is statistically more likely to happen to you.
  • Cost of a ticket. Cruises are also typically more expensive than airfares, so you’re going to be out of pocket far more than someone who has booked an airline flight if you’re forced to cancel your prepaid cruise. It’s yet another good reason to make sure you have cruise cover.
  • Viral outbreaks. Another risk specific to cruises is the threat of epidemic. The media has been full of stories about cruise liners that have been forced to quarantine hundreds of passengers after outbreaks of gastroenteritis. While a daily allowance (usually up to $100) for being confined to your cabin doesn’t make up for a spoiled holiday, it will at least compensate you for your loss.
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When won't your policy pay?

Like all insurance policies, there are some circumstances in which a travel insurance claim will not be paid. Exclusions relating specifically to cruise travel policies can include:

  • Claims while your cruise ship is docked in an Australian port
  • Medical claims while you are cruising in Australian waters between two Australian ports (normally covered by Medicare, provided there is a Medicare-approved doctor onboard)
  • Changes to the cruise itinerary
  • Cruise cancellation due to inclement weather – only severe weather conditions are covered (cyclones, storms)

General exclusions that apply to all types of cruise travel insurance for seniors include:

  • Reckless behaviour or being under the influence of alcohol or non-prescription drugs
  • Travelling to countries where travel warnings have been issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
  • Participating in adventure activities or extreme sports not covered under your policy
  • Pre-existing medical conditions, unless they are covered automatically or the insurer has agreed to provide cover in writing
  • Loss or theft of luggage and personal items due to your own personal negligence, such as leaving your bags unattended
  • Acts of civil unrest, war or terrorism

Can I get cruise travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions?

As with all travel insurance, cover for pre-existing medical conditions will depend on the type of condition you have, how old you are (some conditions have age limitations), how severe your condition is and whether it’s being successfully controlled by medication or other means.

All insurers have a list of conditions they will cover automatically. If your condition is not listed in the product disclosure statement (PDS), you may need to undergo a medical assessment and pay a higher premium to obtain cover.

There are also some conditions that insurers will not cover under any circumstances, such as cancers and terminal illnesses. If you fall into this category, you may have to consider purchasing cruise travel insurance for seniors that excludes cover for your pre-existing medical condition.

How do I declare a medical condition?

Many insurers require that seniors undergo a mandatory medical screening when they reach a particular age. These medical screenings are generally non-invasive and require you to just complete an online medical questionnaire, in which you list your ailments. You may also be asked to have that form verified by a medical practitioner.

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How do I find the right cruise policy as a senior?

The right cruise policy will provide the most comprehensive cover for cruising as a  senior. You’ll need to compare policies online and consider the following:

  • Whether cruise travel is included in the policy or offered for an additional premium
  • Whether all the ports of call on your planned cruise are covered by the policy
  • Whether it covers any shore activities you have planned such as motorcycle riding or hot air ballooning
  • Whether it has sufficient cover for medical treatment and evacuation, which can be in the tens of thousands of dollars
  • Whether an excess or multiple excesses are payable and whether the benefit limits are high enough to make the cover worthwhile
  • Whether the policy includes cover for cabin confinement due to illness and whether the daily amount is sufficient
  • Whether your pre-existing medical conditions are covered automatically or can be covered for an additional premium
  • Whether age limitations apply to your medical conditions or to your overall eligibility for cruise insurance

Is cruise travel insurance worth it?

In a nutshell, the answer to this question is ‘yes’. Many seniors cruise travel insurance policies include cruise cover as part of their standard cover, but the conditions can be restrictive and the benefit limits low. On the other hand, cruise-specific policies or those that offer cruise cover as an optional extra can provide invaluable additional benefits such as:

  • Unlimited emergency medical treatment, hospitalisation and evacuation at sea
  • Unlimited cancellation fees and lost deposits
  • Missed cruise departure cover up to $50,000
  • Missed port connections benefit covering additional accommodation and travel expenses to re-join your cruise
  • Personal belongings and lost luggage cover up to $8,000
  • Missed or cancelled prepaid excursions cover up to $2,500
  • Cabin confinement cover up to $2,500
  • Emergency benefit if your formal attire is lost, stolen or damaged during your trip

While cruise cover is also available through many cruise companies, it’s often more restrictive in what it covers and benefit limits can be lower. For example, rather than a cash payout, tokens for future travel may be issued as compensation for cancellations and delays.

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Cruise travel insurance for seniors FAQ

Question: I'm stopping at multiple destinations are they all covered on policy?

Question: Are shore visits covered?

  • Yes. You will be covered while you're on shore excursion. You'll generally also have cover for cancelled shore excursions.

Question: Am I covered when the boat is docked?

  • Some travel insurance brands don't cover incidents that occur when you have been docked in an Australian port for more than 48 hours.

Question: How much extra will cruise cover cost me?

  • The cost of your policy will vary depending upon the insurer, your age, destination, pre-existing conditions, and the duration of your trip. To find out how much a policy is going to cost you, enter your travel details into the comparison form below or compare your options using the table above.

Compare your options for cruise travel insurance

Compare cruise options available to seniors

Cruise insurance is a must-have, particularly for seniors. It provides cover against all the normal travel hazards such as medical emergencies, trip cancellations and lost luggage plus those risks specific to cruising, where it can turn out to be a real lifesaver.

Picture: Shutterstock

Richard Laycock

Richard is the senior insurance writer at finder.com.au and is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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