If you're going on a cruise, getting cruise travel insurance is a smart decision. Most importantly, you'll get cover for unexpected onboard medical costs and emergency evacuation. To be extra safe, you can also get cover for things like missed port departures, cancelled pre-paid shore excursions and even your formal attire.
Do I need domestic cruise travel insurance?
Definitely. You need to get travel insurance if your cruising in Australian waters so that you get medical cover and evacuation expenses. Even though you're Australia, Medicare is not usually accepted onboard. Medical care on board a cruise ship can get really expensive. Avoid the financial strain by getting the right cover.
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What are the benefits of cruise travel insurance?
Most international policies will cover onboard medical expenses and emergency evacuation from the ship. If you decide to take out extra cover for your cruise, here are some typical benefits that can be included.
Onboard medical expenses
Cancelled pre-paid shore excursions
Missed cruise departure
Formal cruise attire
Marine rescue diversion
Domestic cruise travel insurance
Getting cover for your cruise in Australia is easy as long as you know what to look out for. Cruise providers insist you have enough medical cover with your travel insurance before you can board the ship. Since medical cover is not usually included in domestic travel insurance policies, you need to get an international policy instead.
Medicare will only cover you for medical assistance if;
You are cruising between domestic ports. Even if your ship is in Australian waters, you're not eligible if the ship departed from an international port.
If you are treated by a Medicare-approved doctor. Not all cruise-liners will have Medicare-approved doctors available onboard.
When cruising domestically, most insurers will prompt you to select the Pacific Region - this will usually include New Zealand, Bali, the South West Pacific and Norfolk Region. If you're still unsure what region to select for your domestic cruise, check out your insurers product disclosure statement (PDS) for confirmation.
We spoke with Craig Morison, the Chief Operating Officer for Fast Cover, and he revealed just how often cruise insurance has been utilised by Fast Cover customers.
In 2016, Carol and Vincent, a couple in their seventies from Brisbane, were getting ready to depart on a worldwide cruise. Unfortunately, in the week before they were meant to depart, Carol fell over in their yard and broke her ankle, which meant they would have to cancel their holiday. Because they had taken out a travel insurance policy that covered cancellation, for which they'd paid less than $800, they were able to be reimbursed for more than $20,000 worth of lost deposits.
How to find the best cruise travel insurance
The best cruise travel insurance is a policy that most suited to your individual needs. It's not just one specific policy. To help you find the best cruise travel insurance, follow these simple steps;
1. Choose a Single Trip or Annual Multi-trip policy. Think about all the trips you'll be taking over the next 12 months, if there are 2 or more, you might find that getting an annual policy will save you money and time. 2. Choose a suitable level of cover. Most insurers will offer standard or comprehensive cover at the very least. Standard policies will have less cover than comprehensive ones. Here, you want to think about if you want to take a walk on the wild side or prefer peace-of-mind. 3. Compare brands. Some brands include cruise cover at no extra cost while others might charge a small fee for cover. Comparing brands helps you decide which features will be most beneficial to you. 4. Choose a brand you trust. If you've never bought cruise travel insurance, look at forums for reviews. Just be careful, since reviews are written by the general public and are heavily influenced by negative outcomes. 5. Buy your cruise travel insurance as early as possible. Most insurers will cover your cancellation fees if you have to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances, so it pays to buy early.
If you're traveling on a budget and need an affordable policy, getting cheap cruise travel insurance is possible but you might have to sacrifice a few benefits. The most important thing is to have cover for medical treatments and emergency evacuation, anything on top of that is a bonus.
The table below shows how the cheapest policies usually cover medical and emergency assistance only on cruises. It also shows the price difference between the cheapest, and paying a bit more money to get a policy that has more features for your cruise. This table was priced on the 22nd September 2019 and is based on a 30 year old going on a South Pacific cruise for 14 days, with a standard excess of $200.
Onboard medical assistance
Pre-paid shore excursions
Missed cruise departure
Lost, stolen or damaged baggage
Cabin confinement/ loss of enjoyment
Formal cruise attire lost, stolen or damaged
Formal cruise attire delayed
Marine rescue diversion
If you're only after medical and emergency assistance onboard, then our cheaper policies could be suitable for your trip. If you want value then it could be worth comparing your options and spending the extra dollars for way more coverage.
In 2017, we conducted a survey to find out the number one fear that would stop Australians taking a cruise holiday. The survey uncovered eleven reasons why Aussies avoid going on cruises and interestingly enough, travel insurance would actually cover the majority of the reasons such as getting sick onboard or needing to be evacuated from the ship.
Cast away your fears and get cruise travel insurance for peace-of-mind.
Getting food poisoning or gastro
Getting sick or injured and having to be airlifted to hospital
The ship sinking/running ashore
Not being able to get off the boat
Hitting an iceberg
The cruise leaving without me
Source: finder.com.au survey, May 2017
Questions about travel insurance for a cruise
You don't need separate policies, but you do need to tell your insurer every place you will be visiting by sea or by land. This helps them work out an appropriate quote.
Most travel and cruise insurance policies provide automatic cover for stopovers of up to 48 hours.
In short, yes. Cruise travel insurance covers your medical expenses while onboard. It can also give you an allowance if you're confined to your cabin due to your sickness.
You will still need cruise insurance, but technically only for the length of the cruise. However, it can be tricky to find a single policy that lets you split your cruise and non-cruise portions. Here are your best options:
Stick with a cruise policy for the whole trip. Remember, cruise insurance covers you on and off land, and you may find that this option is not much more expensive than a normal policy anyway.
Double up by getting a standard policy and a cruise policy. If you're only out to sea for a couple of days, you might consider buying cruise insurance on top of the normal travel insurance that's covering the rest of your trip. You'll be paying twice, but hey, if you save a few bucks, you're still ahead. Just remember you won't be able to make the same claim on both policies.
Work out an arrangement with the insurer. If you don't want to double up or pay for cruise insurance when you won't be using it, try contacting an insurer and see if they can create a custom policy for you.
Since river cruises aren't on the ocean, you're not required to have cruise insurance whether you are overseas or in Australia. Getting you to dry land for medical treatment is not nearly as complicated from a riverboat, so insurers don't need to charge you extra.
However, some cruise insurance policies offer you a few extra benefits that you might find useful on a river cruise. These include cabin confinement cover that pays you a little consolation money each day you are confined to your cabin with a contagious illness, and formal attire cover that will pay to repair or replace your formal attire if it is lost, damaged or stolen.
Many insurers will cover you on a small boat up to a certain distance from shore (usually 10-12km) even without the optional cruise cover. If you go beyond this, you'll need cruise insurance no matter what kind of boat you are on or whether you are in Australia or overseas.
But you have to remember that domestic policies and international policies are built differently: domestic policies don't include medical cover while international policies do. This is a huge difference and it means you should strongly consider cruise cover in certain situations (as you'll see below), even if you are within 10-12km from shore.
As a side note, if you will be scuba diving in Australia or overseas, it is likely that you will also need to purchase additional cover for adventure sports generally or scuba diving specifically. Just like cruise insurance, most policies do not cover this automatically.
Pre-existing medical conditions don't impact on your ability to get covered for your cruise. If the insurer covers your pre-existing conditions, you should be able to get cover for cruising as well.
Not necessarily, so check the fine print. You may need to purchase an additional adventure sports pack to make sure you have the cover you need.
Jessica Prasida is a graduate publisher for travel insurance at Finder. She has a Bachelor of Business and four years of experience in the travel industry, where she learned about the importance of travel insurance. Jess is currently studying a Masters of Marketing at the University of Technology in Sydney. In her spare time, she eats, and travels the world.
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