If you're planning to take to the sea, don't forget to pack your cruise travel insurance. While you may have an ideal trip free from illness, injuries, mishaps, and delays, it's wise to prepare for potential misfortunes that could bring your good time to a grinding halt.
Cruise travel insurance can cover you if you sustain an injury on an island expedition or a common shipboard illness sweeps the cabins. Often referred to as "trip cancellation insurance," cruise trip insurance can also reimburse you if your cruise is unexpectedly delayed, cancelled, or interrupted due to a covered reason.
Keep reading to learn more about what cruise insurance is, what it covers, and why it may be a wise investment for your high seas adventure.
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Why Do I Need Cruise Travel Insurance?
A cruise is one of the most enchanting ways to see the world, but it's important to understand and prepare for the potential risks involved. Here are just a few reasons why you may need cruise insurance for your trip:
- Cruises are often delayed due to unexpected weather conditions. Unfortunately, cruise delays due to bad weather or fog are fairly common, and there's no guarantee your cruise line will compensate you for the meals and accommodations you have to pay for during a long delay (12+ hours).
- Cruise ships can be hotbeds for stomach bugs. In 2016 alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 13 separate gastrointestinal outbreaks on cruise ships.
- Recreational activities in unfamiliar territory can result in injury. As you explore each port, you'll likely want to participate in activities such as hiking, rock climbing, or beach volleyball. Unfortunately, these types of recreational sports and activities carry risk of injury.
- Your cruise line's own insurance plan may not be the best cruise insurance for you. The policy available through your cruise line may reimburse you for missed departures or weather delays, but coverage for important benefits like Medical Evacuation or Accident & Sickness may be extremely limited—or excluded entirely.
- Your regular health insurance may provide limited or no coverage in international waters. If you don't have international health coverage as you travel outside your home country, you'll be solely responsible for medical expenses you incur on your cruise. That's why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends travel medical insurance to nearly all individuals traveling on a global scale.
How Much Is Travel Insurance for a Cruise?
The cost of your cruise travel insurance policy will depend on your age, total trip cost, length of trip, and number of travelers.
If you were a thirty-year-old planning to insure your $1,000, four-night, five-day cruise to Belize, your options for an Atlas trip cancellation plan through Nationwide and WorldTrips (formerly Tokio Marine HCC – MIS Group) would range from $41 - $56*.
In this scenario, you would have the option of choosing from the following three plans:
- Atlas Excursion – $41 (lowest cost, lowest benefit amounts)
- Atlas Expedition – $48 (mid-level cost, mid-level benefit amounts)
- Atlas Enterprise – $56 (highest cost, highest benefit amounts)
Your actual cost per person may be higher or lower than this example based on the insurance provider you choose and the factors outlined above.
*Cost as of June 2019.
What Does Cruise Insurance Cover?
Cruise travel insurance secures non-refundable investments related to your trip. It reimburses you if you have to cancel your international cruise unexpectedly prior to your departure.
It also provides medical coverage for unexpected injuries and illnesses.
Finally, it includes other trip protection benefits like reimbursement for lost baggage, delayed baggage, or a trip delay.
Here's an overview of a few key benefits you'll get when you purchase an Atlas Series cruise travel insurance plan from Nationwide and WorldTrips:
The core of any good cruise travel insurance policy, Trip Cancellation coverage reimburses you for the full cost of your prepaid and non-refundable travel expenses—up to your policy maximum—if you have to cancel your cruise due to a covered reason.
Here are some scenarios that are covered under Atlas Excursion, Atlas Expedition, and Atlas Enterprise:
- You fall ill or are unexpectedly injured and your physician insists that you cannot go on your cruise
- Your traveling companion or non-traveling family member falls ill, becomes injured, or dies unexpectedly and you have to cancel your trip
- You or your traveling companion are directly involved in an accident (substantiated by a police report) that causes you to miss your cruise ship's departure
- A terrorist incident occurs in a city listed on your cruise itinerary and your cruise line is unable to modify its route (the incident must occur within the 30 days prior to your scheduled departure date)
- A natural disaster occurs unexpectedly in your destination and renders it uninhabitable
- A last-minute legal obligation, such as jury duty, requires you to remain in your home country
Note that these situations must occur after your policy goes into effect to be eligible for reimbursement.
Example of the Trip Cancellation Benefit in Use
You and two close friends are driving to Miami to board your cruise ship to Mexico when a truck runs a red light and slams into the front end of your car. Thankfully, none of you suffer life-threatening injuries, but paramedics insist on taking you to the hospital to check for internal injuries.
You're disappointed you won't make your cruise, but you're thankful you have a Trip Cancellation benefit. You'll get reimbursed for the $900, non-refundable payment you previously made for the cruise.
PRO TIP: Be sure to review the full list of eligible scenarios and exclusions in the Summary of Benefits for your plan. After you fill out your trip details here, use the "View plan certificate" link underneath the price quotes.
*Prices shown in the image are for a four-night trip to Belize for a 30-year-old with a $1,000 Trip Cancellation benefit.
The Trip Interruption benefit reimburses you if you are unable to continue your cruise due to one of the same situations covered under the Trip Cancellation benefit explained above.
Unlike the Trip Cancellation benefit, Trip Interruption provides you with reimbursement if one of these covered situations occurs after you depart on your cruise.
Example of the Trip Interruption Benefit in Use
Say you've just set foot on Paradise Island when you receive the devastating news that your father has passed away. Depending on the circumstances, you may wish to return home immediately.
Under the Trip Interruption benefit, you would be reimbursed for your pre-paid, unused, and non-refundable land or sea expenses. You would also be reimbursed for the airfare you paid for your now unused travel ticket to return home from your cruise ship's port city on its scheduled return date.
This benefit reimburses you for your covered expenses—up to the maximum benefit of your policy—if you are delayed for 12+ hours due to a defined hazard.
Example of the Trip Delay Benefit in Use
Imagine heavy fog causes your initial cruise departure to be delayed until the following morning. Not only do you now need to find a last-minute hotel room, but you also have to pay for meals you hadn't accounted for when making your budget.
Luckily, your Trip Delay benefit reimburses you for the reasonable cost of accommodations and meals.
ACCIDENT & SICKNESS MEDICAL EXPENSE
The Accident & Sickness Medical Expense benefit covers health care expenses for necessary services and supplies. These must be prescribed by a physician as treatment for a covered injury or illness.
This benefit covers eligible expenses such as:
- Ambulance service
- Physician services
- Charges for cruise ship infirmary and prescribed medication
- Hospital room and board in one of your stopover destinations
- Charges for anesthetics, X-rays, and labs
Example of the Accident & Sickness Medical Expense Benefit in Use
While touring your cruise ship's first destination, your child takes a nasty fall that requires a trip to the nearest emergency room.
Since you've been traveling by ship and don't have a car, you rely on a local ambulance to transport you and your child to the hospital. Once there, he is admitted for X-rays and later scheduled for surgery.
Your son's broken arm qualifies as a covered injury. Your Atlas plan will cover the ambulance ride, physician consultation, X-rays, operating room, and hospital room and board charges up to the medical maximum.
The Medical Evacuation benefit covers your emergency air or ground transportation from a hospital or emergency care facility that is ill-equipped to treat you. You will be transported to the nearest hospital that can provide adequate care.
Your physician must certify that evacuation is medically necessary and that another means of transportation could result in the loss of your life or limb.
Example of the Medical Evacuation Benefit in Use
You become seriously ill during your cruise. You visit your cruise ship's medical facility in the hope of being treated onboard, but it cannot provide the care you need. You must be transported to the nearest on-shore hospital that has sufficient equipment and the necessary specialists to treat you.
According to the CDC, emergency medical evacuations can be expensive – some even exceed $100,000.
Thankfully, you have an Atlas plan which includes a Medical Evacuation benefit. Atlas plans cover emergency evacuation starting at $250,000, with the Atlas Enterprise plan benefit going up to $1,000,000.
How Do I Choose the Best Cruise Insurance?
The best cruise insurance is the plan that offers the benefits you need at a price you can afford.
Nationwide and WorldTrips offer trip cancellation coverage for cruises in three different plan levels, so you can choose the coverage and cost that are right for you:
- Atlas Excursion – Lowest premium, lowest benefit amounts
- Atlas Expedition – Mid-level premium, mid-level benefit amounts
- Atlas Enterprise – Highest premium, highest benefit amounts
Don't Need Trip Cancellation Coverage? Consider Cruise Travel Medical Insurance Instead
Maybe you've already purchased insurance through your cruise line that covers a last-minute cancellation, or maybe you're not interested in the trip cancellation coverage that comes with a cruise travel insurance policy.
You may still wish to purchase medical insurance in case you need a life-saving medical evacuation or have to seek treatment for an injury or illness abroad.
Cruise travel medical insurance policies can be very budget-friendly. In fact, an Atlas Travel policy for that 30-year-old traveler mentioned in the earlier example could get $1,000,000 in maximum medical coverage for seven days for less than $17.
You'll also get many supplementary travel benefits similar to those included in a cruise travel insurance policy, such as Trip Interruption and Travel Delay.
WorldTrips is a service company and a member of the Tokio Marine HCC group of companies.
WorldTrips’ Atlas Journey, Atlas Cruiser, and Atlas On-The-Go trip protection insurance products are underwritten by Tokio Marine HCC’s U.S. Specialty Insurance Company (USSIC). USSIC is a Texas-domiciled insurance company operating on an admitted basis throughout the United States.
WorldTrips’ Atlas Travel Series and StudentSecure international travel medical insurance products are underwritten by Lloyd's. WorldTrips has authority to enter into contracts of insurance on behalf of the Lloyd's underwriting members of Lloyd's Syndicate 4141, which is managed by HCC Underwriting Agency, Ltd.