Set sail with total peace of mind with this guide to buying the right cruise insurance by Onestop4
Planning your cruise is an exciting time, with a wealth of itineraries and new ports becoming available all the time. Cruising is a perfect way to see a lot of places in one trip, each port different to the next, and each country with different cultures, climate and opportunities. It’s easy to be totally carried away with the excitement of it all, but making sure you are well prepared for your travels will give you peace of mind in the long run.
Below is a guide to help you secure your much needed cruise insurance, which should financially protect you before you depart and while you are travelling.
Being able to evaluate one potential travel insurance policy against another is not always easy. We have created a guide on how to do this which is accessible here. There are a couple of sections though that you must check carefully:
1- The General Exclusions – these relate to the entire policy and anything listed in here is definitely not covered – these vary quite considerably so please check carefully.
2- The Table of Benefits – these are the sums insured under each section of cover.
Don’t be tempted to think that a policy offering £10 million of Medical Expenses is worth paying more for than one offering £3 million. It’s a red herring. Medical Expenses even for the most significant claims have never exceeded £2 million and are unlikely to for a few more years yet – even in the USA/Canada/Caribbean. Instead look more carefully at the amount of cover for cancellation and curtailment – these could also be called abandonment or travel disruption. Ask yourself if this is sufficient to compensate for what you will have paid, if you have to cancel your trip at the last moment, or have to head home early because something untoward happens.
Most people book their cruises many months and sometimes years ahead. There is often a long gap between booking and travelling. It’s enough time for something you don’t know about today to be a significant problem in a few months or couple of year’s time.
Cancellation is the by far the most frequent reason for a cruise insurance claim. If there is only one thing you take from this article, it is our advice to buy your cruise insurance as soon as you can after booking, because delaying this may leave you unprotected and unable to make a claim for cancellation.
Proper cruise insurance caters for the potentially very long cancellation periods, and will cover (even though you have probably not yet paid the full amount for your cruise) the entire cost on your booking form, including your flights, pre-paid excursions, transfers and hotel accommodation.
Beware of pseudo cruise insurance, which is no more than a standard travel policy in disguise! Spotting these ‘fakes’ are easy – they won’t be able to insure for a period of more than one year – so check that from the day you buy your policy (and start cover for cancellation) to the day you return home after your cruise (your travel end date) you won’t breach the maximum duration of cover. One day over and your cover will be wholly invalid. So make sure that the day you return and put the key in the door and the kettle on is noted as the end date of your travel – not the day you leave your last port to fly back to the UK. Neither will they cover excursions that you have booked and pre-paid, or withdrawal of services if your ship has a power outage/engine failure.
Think about what you will be doing on your cruise – if you are visiting the Arctic or Antarctic regions you will invariably be having to use Zodiacs to reach land. Be sensible: are you fit enough to do this? Check also that your cruise policy will cover you to do this.
It’s worth also thinking about what you may be doing on board on your sea days. Some cruise ships have a huge array of activities you can participate in, and as these get more adventurous some may fall foul of the sports and leisure activities that your cruise policy may cover. So it’s always worth checking covered leisure activities too.
Some cruises include separate river cruises as part of the itinerary (for example, China and Yangtze River), where you transfer for a period of time from your ocean vessel to a much smaller river vessel. From time to time rivers flood, and rivers with bridges across them may not be able to accommodate your river boat if the water level is too high – will your cruise insurance cover flooding in this instance? Check for natural catastrophes in your cover – this will also mention volcanic ash, earthquakes, tsunamis and storms. What happens to your itinerary if this happens? Will your cruise operator make alternative arrangements?
If you are river cruising there are some good tips here and we strongly recommend that you ensure your travel insurance does cover flooding. Check your Policy Exclusions if you are not sure – this extra reading explains Policy Exclusions.
If you are taking your best jewellery with you then travel insurance is unlikely to offer sufficient cover for these high value items away from the home – check your home content policy and make sure you have sufficient cover.
If you will be cruising for more than a few weeks, check your home policy to make sure that you don’t invalidate the cover because of your lengthy trip away from your home. Let your home insurer know well in advance if you will be away for longer than they will allow – and be prepared to accept terms for this period of absence.
It goes without saying that a lot of cruise passengers have pre-existing medical conditions – it is vital that you disclose these in their entirety to your insurance provider. If you have a well-controlled medical condition you must declare this too.
If your health changes after you bought your policy and before you travel, don’t delay before letting your cruise insurer know – they need to know if your health has changed usually within seven days. Travelling with medical conditions means inevitably taking medications with you – take more than enough and don’t take them out of the boxes and packets they come in if you are flying. You should also carry them in your hand luggage, just in case your suitcase goes on a journey of its own. It’s also a good idea to make sure you have documented and have with you a list of the medications you take, including the doses.
Hygiene is critical on cruise ships and if you have already done a cruise you will have been used to seeing hand sanitisers at the entrance to dining rooms and restaurants. Use them religiously, because they are there to protect you and don’t let others off the hook either. It’s considered very poor form not to use them.
Please don’t travel without a copy of your cruise insurance or your Policy Schedule – in here are all the contact numbers you may need in an emergency. Teams of people standby 24/7 365 day a year helping travellers who have got into difficulty – they speak many languages and always English, so can help you if you have any problems. Within the teams are qualified doctors and they can help you too, even from a distance. The ship can make contact on your behalf and receive response for you if you have no mobile reception, so don’t suffer in silence – leaving a problem in the hope it will get better is unlikely to be a successful strategy. Your insurer would rather hear from you and be able to help you, rather than find you had problems after the event that they could have assisted you with had they have known at the time.
By being well prepared you can set sail with total peace of mind. Enjoy your cruise experience.
Onestop4: is a trading name of International Travel and Healthcare Limited. Onestop4: have a selection of insurance policies which are designed for cruises and travel.
If you would like a no-obligation quotation please call free on 0800 848 8448, or if you prefer to go online you can get a quote on our website.
International Travel and Healthcare Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm Reference No. 433367