What should travelers know about purchasing cruise insurance?

What should travelers know about purchasing cruise insurance? | Insurance Business America

What should travelers know about purchasing cruise insurance?

Following two years of warnings about the danger of contracting COVID-19 while onboard a cruise, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has lifted its risk advisory for cruise ship travel, leaving it up to the vacationers to decide whether they feel safe going on a trip. 

“While cruising will always pose some risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers will make their own risk assessment when choosing to travel on a cruise ship, much like they do in all other travel settings,” the agency said in a statement.

The move, which came at a time when people were thinking about their summer vacation plans, was welcomed by cruise ship operators across the country.

In a separate statement, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the industry’s largest trade association, said that the agency’s decision to remove its health warning “recognizes the effective public health measures in place on cruise ships and begins to level the playing field between cruise and similarly situated venues on land.”

Read more: Policy changes from the US's top 10 travel insurers after the coronavirus hit

The CDC, however, still expressed reservations about cruising and reminded travelers to ensure that their COVID-19 vaccines are up to date before taking a cruise and to always follow the ship’s requirements and recommendations against the coronavirus.

This comes as industry experts anticipate cruise lovers to return to the high seas in droves, especially with the COVID-19 risk warning removed. Despite this, many industry insiders believe that the pandemic will continue to reshape how people travel, giving rise to new challenges. So, this begs the question, should travelers take out cruise insurance?

What does cruise travel insurance cover?

Just like other types of policies, cruise travel insurance provides financial protection in the event something goes wrong. Coverage details vary from policy to policy, this is why experts advise travelers to review the fine print carefully before purchasing. The table below shows what’s typically covered in a cruise travel insurance plan.

Coverage

What it pays for

Trip cancellation

Non-refundable costs already paid if the policyholder needs to cancel the trip due to reason covered by the policy

 

Also allows vacationers to reschedule the cruise

Trip interruption

Any unused, non-refundable cruise costs the policyholder has already paid for, including shore excursions they never got to take

 

May also pay for a return flight home

Medical emergencies

Medical expenses incurred because of injuries and illnesses to the policyholder while on the trip

Medical evacuation

Costs to get the policyholder to the nearest adequate medical facility or back home if it is medically required

Lost luggage

Replacement clothing, toiletries, and luggage

Lost passport

Travel assistance to help cruise ship travelers connect with their embassy or consulate to get a replacement passport

Trip delay

Extra expenses, including rebooking fees, meals, accommodations, and cruise catch-up, resulting from travel delay

Pre-existing conditions

Medical expenses related to a pre-existing condition that flare up during the trip

 

*Most cruise insurance policies offer a pre-existing medical condition exclusion waiver if the plan was purchased within two to three weeks after the initial trip payment.

Cruise-ship disablement

Fixed payment for inconveniences caused if the cruise ship becomes disabled

 

May also provide travel assistance to help arrange transportation back home for the policyholder and their traveling companions

Cancel for any reason (CFAR)

50% to 75% reimbursement of non-refundable costs if the policyholder cancels a trip for reasons that are not included in the policy

Read more: Cancel for any reason travel insurance – is it worth having?

Cruise travel insurance, however, rarely covers financial losses due to harsh weather – for example, the vacationer fails to participate in a shore excursion because of a downpour – and itinerary changes – if the vacationer misses a port or is taken to a different port because of changes to the itinerary. Many policies also do not provide coverage for dental care.

How much does cruise travel insurance cost?

Most insurance policies cost between 5% and 10% of the total cruise expenses, according to the travel insurance comparison website Squaremouth.

“The premium varies by policy and provider, depending on three primary factors: total trip cost, age of travelers, and length of travel,” Jenna Hummer, former director of public relations for Squaremouth, told a luxury and lifestyle travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler. “Older travelers taking long, expensive cruises will most likely be paying more for the same policy as a younger traveler taking a cheaper trip.”

Read more: Travel insurance tips for storm season

Adding CFAR coverage, meanwhile, typically raises a policy’s premium between 40% and 60% of the cost of the travel policy.

What do the top cruise travel insurance policies in the US cover?

Forbes Advisor recently launched a list of carriers offering the “best cruise insurance plans.” To find out which travel insurers in the US provide the top cruise cover, the personal finance website evaluated the policies of several carriers with at least $150,000 in medical coverage, COVID-19-related protection, pre-existing conditions coverage, and CFAR option. It also considered other factors, including premium prices, trip and baggage delay time requirements, baggage loss reimbursement, and missed connection coverage. These are the ones that came out on top. The list is up to date as of April 2022.

Insurer/Policy

Forbes Advisor rating

Key coverage features

AXA Assistance USA Platinum

5 stars

  • Trip cancellation covers 100% of the total cruise cost
  • Trip interruption covers 150% of the total cruise cost
  • $3,000 baggage loss coverage (secondary)
  • $600 coverage for baggage delay of 12+ hours
  • $250,000 medical limit
  • $1 million emergency medical evacuation limit
  • Pre-existing condition waiver if purchased within 14 days of initial trip payment
  • 60-day pre-existing condition lookback period
  • 24-hour emergency assistance
  • Up to $50,000 rental car coverage
  • Cancel for work reasons
  • Missed connection coverage
  • Concierge service
  • Identity theft services
  • $100,000 non-medical evacuation coverage
  • Kennel benefit

Seven Corners RoundTrip Choice

5 stars

  • Trip cancellation covers up to 100% of total trip cost, up to $100,000 per person
  • Trip interruption covers up to 150% of the total trip cost
  • Up to $250 per day per person to a maximum of $2,000 trip delay cover (6 hours minimum)
  • Up to $250 per day to a maximum of $1,500 missed tour or cruise connection coverage (3 hours minimum)
  • Up to $500,000 emergency accident and sickness medical expense coverage
  • Up to $750 emergency dental coverage
  • Up to $1 million medical evacuation and repatriation of remains coverage
  • $20,000 political or security evacuation coverage
  • $2,500, subject to per item limit of $250 baggage and personal effects coverage
  • Up to $100 per day to a maximum of $500 baggage delay coverage (6 hours minimum)
  • Optional CFAR and IFAR coverage of up 75% reimbursement of non-refundable trip costs if purchased within 20 days of initial trip payment

Trawick International Safe Travels First Class

5 stars

  • Up to $15,000 trip cancellation coverage with a maximum trip length of 90 days
  • Trip interruption covers 150% of trip cost limit
  • Up to $1,000 or $200 per day trip delay coverage (12 hours minimum delay)
  • Up to $1,000 missed connection coverage (3 hours minimum delay)
  • $150,000 emergency accident and sickness medical expenses (secondary coverage)
  • $1 million medical evacuation and repatriation coverage
  • Up to $2,000 baggage and personal effects coverage (per article limits apply)
  • Up to $400 baggage delay coverage (12 hours minimum)
  • $10,000 24-hour AD&D, $25,000 common carrier AD&D
  • $5,000 property damage coverage
  • Travel assistance services
  • Optional $50,000 collision damage waiver (not available in NY or TX)
  • Optional CFAR coverage of up to 75% of non-refundable trip cost (not available in NY, MO and WA)

HTH Worldwide TripProtector Preferred

4.5 stars

  • Trip cancellation covers 100% of the trip cost or a maximum of $50,000
  • Trip interruption covers 200% of the trip cost               
  • $500 per item, $2,000 maximum baggage and personal effects coverage           
  • $400 baggage delay coverage (12 hours minimum)
  • $200 per day or up to $2,000 trip delay coverage (6 hours minimum)
  • $35,000 rental car damage (not available in NY and TX)
  • $1,000 missed connection coverage
  • Optional CFAR up to 75% trip cost reimbursement (not available in NY and WA)
  • $500,000 maximum accident and sickness benefits per person coverage
  • $1,000 dental expenses coverage
  • 100% doctor inpatient and outpatient office visits
  • 100% outpatient prescription drugs outside the US if prescribed for a covered accident or sickness
  • $250 pet medical expenses coverage (not available in NY, MA, and WA)
  • $50,000 accidental death and dismemberment coverage
  • $100,000 accidental death and dismemberment, common carrier coverage (air only)     
  • $25,000 repatriation of mortal remains coverage
  • $1 million emergency evacuation coverage, includes transportation to join the insured               
  • Pre-existing conditions can be covered if policy is purchased within 21 days of initial trip deposit

John Hancock Gold

4.5 stars

  • Trip cancellation covers 100% of the total trip cost
  • Trip interruption covers 150% of the trip cost
  • $2,500, $250 per article limit baggage Loss
  • Up to $500 baggage delay cover (12 hours minimum)
  • $250,000 medical limit
  • Pre-existing condition waiver if policy is purchased within 14 days of initial trip payment
  • 60-day pre-existing condition lookback
  • $1 million medical evacuation coverage
  • 24-hour emergency assistance
  • Up to $50,000 rental car coverage (secondary)

Nationwide Prime

4.5 stars

  • Trip cancellation covers 100% of the total trip cost
  • Trip interruption covers 200% of the trip cost
  • $2,000, $250 per article or $500 combined maximum for specified items baggage delay coverage (secondary)
  • Up to $600 baggage delay coverage (12 hours minimum)
  • $150,000 medical limit (secondary)
  • Pre-existing condition waiver if policy is purchased within 21 days of initial trip payment
  • 60-day pre-existing condition lookback period
  • $1 million medical evacuation coverage
  • 24-hour emergency assistance
  • $35,000 rental car coverage
  • Up to $500 missed connection coverage
  • Up to $500 itinerary change coverage

USI Affinity Diamond

4 stars

  • Trip cancellation covers 100% of the total trip cost
  • Trip interruption covers 150% of the trip cost $500,000 per person emergency medical coverage
  • Pre-existing condition is covered if policy is purchased within 14 days of trip deposit
  • $1 million per person medical evacuation and repatriation coverage
  • $1,500 per person, $250 daily limit, travel delay coverage (6 hours minimum)
  • $500 per person, $500 daily limit baggage delay coverage (12 hours minimum)
  • $2,500 per person, $300 per item, $500 specific items limit baggage and personal items loss coverage
  • $1,500 per person missed connection coverage (covered after 3-hour delay, cruise and tour only)
  • $50,000 per person 24-hour AD&D
  • $10,000 per person flight only AD&D
  • $1,000 policy limit, $100 deductible per policy rental car damage coverage
  • 24-hour assistance service

Cat 70 Travel Plan

4 stars

  • Trip cancellation covers 100% of the total trip cost
  • Trip interruption covers 150% of the trip cost $500,000 per person emergency medical coverage
  • Pre-existing condition is covered if policy is purchased within 14 days of trip deposit
  • $500,000 per person medical evacuation and repatriation coverage
  • $500 per person, $150 daily limit travel delay covered after 6 hours
  • $200 per person, $100 daily limit baggage delay, covered after 24 hours
  • $500 per person, $100 per item, $250 specific items limit baggage and personal items loss coverage
  • $500 per person missed connection, covered after 3-hour delay
  • $10,000 per person 24-hour AD&D
  • 24-hour assistance service

Tin Leg Gold Plan

4 stars

  • Trip cancellation covers 100% of the trip cost
  • Trip interruption covers 150% of the trip cost $500,000 per person emergency medical coverage
  • Pre-existing condition is covered if policy is purchased within 14 days of trip deposit
  • $500,000 per person medical evacuation and repatriation coverage
  • $500 per person, $150 daily limit travel delay covered after 6 hours
  • $200 per person, $100 daily limit baggage delay, covered after 24 hours
  • $500 per person, $100 per item, $250 specific items limit baggage and personal items loss coverage
  • $500 per person missed connection, covered after 3-hour delay
  • $10,000 per person 24-hour AD&D
  • 24-hour assistance service

Is cruise travel insurance worth the cost?

According to industry experts, a cruise is too much of an expensive investment not to insure, especially with the uncertainties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In this day and age, travel insurance is an essential purchase for any cruiser,” noted industry information site Cruise Radio on its website. “While it might not seem necessary for cheaper, shorter voyages, it’s still a worthwhile investment for peace of mind. Not only could it save you thousands of dollars, but it could also end up saving your life.”

“A cruise vacation has so many moving parts, including the sheer number of destinations you visit, flights, and hotels bookings,” Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of cruise review and community website Cruise Critic, told Condé Nast Traveler. “Things can go wrong after you’ve made that final deposit, and without travel insurance, you’d likely lose that payment.”