Why is it worth getting cruise travel insurance if I'm staying in Australian waters?
Strange as it may seem, most insurers will recommend you take out an International Travel Insurance policy for domestic cruises in Australian waters. The reason for this is simple: Medicare benefits are not available if you are travelling between an Australian port and a foreign port or between two foreign ports.
Those benefits are only available if you are cruising between two Australian ports and even then, only if you are treated by a Medicare-eligible doctor. If the shipboard doctor isn't registered for Medicare, you won't have that option. Medical costs on a cruise ship can be very high, so if you become ill or injured onboard, you will have to pay for your treatment out of your own pocket, unless you have cruise insurance.
Having insurance has other benefits too. It will also cover you if you need to cancel your prepaid cruise unexpectedly, or if your luggage is lost or stolen.
So make sure you get cruise cover before you go, even if you’re only cruising around Australia.
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How can travel insurers offer medical cover in Australian waters?
While domestic cruises in Australian waters are in theory covered by Medicare and private health funds, many Australian passengers have found themselves significantly out of pocket over the years because:
- The cruise ship they were travelling on did not have a Medicare-eligible doctor on board (many cruise lines employ doctors from other countries)
- There was a large gap between the cost of onboard treatment and the amount of benefit their private health fund would pay
- General insurers were prevented by law from covering out-of-hospital medical expenses incurred on domestic cruise ships
Due to concerns that this could potentially damage the Australian domestic cruise market, the Federal Government made changes to health insurance regulations to allow general insurers to provide travel insurance that covers medical expenses on domestic cruises.
Thanks to those amendments, domestic cruise passengers can now purchase cover for out-of-hospital costs that are not covered by Medicare or by private health funds. The changes, which took effect in 2003, amended Regulation 48 of the National Health Regulations 1954.Back to top
What cover will an international policy provide if I am taking a cruise in Australian waters?
An International Travel Insurance policy will usually provide the following range of benefits to domestic cruise passengers:
- Cancellations – reimbursement of prepaid expenses if you cancel your cruise due to unforeseen death, injury, or illness
- Medical & other expenses – costs incurred outside Australia due to unforeseen death, injury, or illness
- Hospital benefit – daily benefit if you are admitted to hospital overseas due to illness or injury
- Cabin confinement – daily benefit if you are confined to your cabin for medical reasons
- Trip interruption – costs of prepaid and unrecoverable expenses if you cut your trip short due to certain unforeseen circumstances
- Additional emergency expenses – additional costs incurred if your trip is disrupted and you must return to Australia due to unforeseen circumstances
- Missed cruise departure – costs incurred if you miss the scheduled departure of your pre-booked cruise due to certain unforeseen circumstances
- Resumption of trip – travel costs to resume your trip after it is cut short due to certain unforeseen circumstances
- Travel delay – daily benefit if your final departure or return to Australia is delayed due to a natural disaster, bad weather, industrial action or mechanical breakdown
- Cruise delay – daily benefit if your cruise departure is delayed due to bad weather, industrial action or mechanical breakdown
- Missed port – daily benefit while your cruise is delayed from visiting a scheduled port due to bad weather or mechanical breakdown
- Personal belongings and baggage – benefit amount for personal items that are lost, stolen or damaged on your trip
- Additional specific items – optional additional cover for specified luggage and personal effects
- Personal belongings & baggage before boarding – benefit amount for lost, stolen or damaged personal effects and luggage with you in Australia prior to boarding your cruise
- Delayed baggage – cost of buying essential items if your baggage is delayed by a carrier during your trip for more than 24 hours
- Baggage delay before boarding - cost of buying essential items if your baggage is delayed by a carrier during your domestic trip for more than 24 hours, prior to boarding your cruise
- Passport and travel documents – cost of replacing passports, visa and travellers cheques lost, stolen or damaged during your trip
- Money – benefit amount to replace personal cash lost or stolen during your trip
- Personal accident – benefit amount for an injury suffered on your trip that results in permanent paralysis or loss of use of a body part within a year
- Personal liability – costs associated with your legal liability for third party injury or property damage
- Legal expenses – cost of legal expenses incurred while seeking compensation for death or injury resulting from an accident during your trip
- Hijack – daily benefit amount if your aircraft or ship is hijacked during your trip for more than 24 hours
- Pet care – cost of extra kennel or cattery fees incurred if your homeward journey is delayed for more than 24 hours due to bad weather, industrial action or mechanical breakdown
- Financial default – benefit amount for prepaid expenses lost due to financial default of a travel services provider
- Rental vehicle excess – benefit towards an excess you become liable to pay due to damage or theft of a rental car in your control during the trip
- Loss of income – benefit amount for loss of income due to an injury on your trip that results in disablement within 30 days, preventing you from working.
What will a domestic policy cover me for?
If you decide to purchase domestic (non-medical) travel insurance for your Australian cruise, you will be covered for a range of benefits which usually include:
- Additional accommodation & travel expenses - covers additional travel expenses if an injury or illness prevents you from travelling
- Accidental death – pays a benefit to your estate if you are injured on your trip and die from that injury within a year
- Cancellation fees & lost deposits - covers cancellation fees and lost deposits for prepaid travel arrangements due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, injury, strikes, collisions, retrenchment and natural disasters
- Disruption of journey - covers additional meals and accommodation expenses if your trip is disrupted for a specified period due to circumstances beyond your control
- Personal liability – covers costs associated with your legal liability for third party injuries or property damage
- Rental vehicle excess - covers the excess payable on your rental vehicle if it is stolen or damaged or you are unfit to return it.
Will I save by purchasing a domestic policy without medical cover?
The simple answer: no. Below is an example from one popular Australian insurer, 1Cover, that shows the price difference between a domestic policy and a comprehensive Pacific Cruise policy:
|Region||Australia Only||Pacific Cruise|
|Trip Length||6 days||6 days|
Price correct as of August 2015 and is subject to change.Back to top
Are cruise trips automatically covered by travel insurance policies?
Not necessarily. Some insurers will automatically cover cruise trips at no extra cost while for others there will be an additional premium payment. The growing need of travel insurance catering for cruise trips lead to global insurance provider InsureandGo recently introducing a policy designed specifically for cruise trips with additional cover benefits including;
- Cover for missed cruise departure from $5,000 up to $50,000
- Reimbursements for shore excursions that have been cancelled or interrupted by the cruise liner
- Cover for cancelled port calls due to bad weather or timetable restrictions
- Cover for medical expenses incurred at sea including a cabin confinement allowance
- Cover for emergency medical treatment
Domestic cruise travel insurance FAQs
Q. Will I be covered for medical treatment onshore in Australia?
A. No. Only offshore medical expenses and those incurred outside of Australia will be covered by international travel insurance.
Q. Are cruise ships required to have a Medicare registered doctor on board?
A. No. There is no requirement in place for different cruise liners to have a Medicare-registered doctor on board.
Q. How much does medical treatment onboard a cruise ship cost?
A. While prices may vary, P&O cruises reports that daily hospital bills can be as high as $5,000 per day.
Q. Will travel insurance cover me if I have to be transported to a medical facility from the cruise ship?
A. Yes, medical cover on an international policy will usually cover the cost of emergency transportation to a facility either within Australia or overseas.
Q. I’m looking to apply for cruise travel insurance for a trip within Australian waters. What region do I choose if taking out an international policy?
A. Most insurers will recommend you take out cover under the pacific region. This means the South West Pacific and will cover New Zealand Indonesia/Bali for cruises in domestic waters.
Q. If I have travelled to a different city to board my cruise, will I be covered for accommodation for the days leading up to departure?
A. Provided you have selected a comprehensive policy and the period of cover is extended to include the days prior to your cruise departure, you will be covered for those days.
What international policies will cover cruise trips in Australia?
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