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Standard travel insurance is all well and good for your average holiday, but if you’re hoping for a seat at the captain’s table you might be better off opting for a travel insurance policy that is specific tailored to your cruise holiday.
Do I need cruise travel insurance?
Travel insurance is not a legal requirement for any holiday or overseas trip, but it’s definitely worth considering because it could help to protect you against the risk of a wide range of issues arising, from cancelled flights to stolen luggage to the need for medical treatment while you’re abroad.
However, standard holiday insurance might not cover you for events or risks specific to cruise holidays, such as missed port departures or cabin confinement. That’s why it might be a wise decision to take out cruise insurance before you set sail.
What does cruise insurance cover?
Cruise insurance should provide all the essentials you’ll find in any good travel insurance policy, such as:
- Medical expenses – to pay for any medical treatment you need. Cruise insurance may provide slightly higher cover for medical costs as insurers factor in the need to transport you to a mainland hospital if you are not docked at a port.
- Repatriation – covers the cost of bringing you back home in a medical emergency.
- Lost luggage – pays to replace luggage if it’s been accidently lost, stolen or damaged.
- Cancellation or curtailment – covers the cost of your holiday if you have to cancel or cut short your plans because of circumstances outside of your control.
- Personal liability – pays for legal fees and compensation if you have an accident and someone blames you for their injuries or damage to their property.
As well as these features, travel insurance for cruises can also insure you against:
- Missed port departure – compensates you if you missed your departure time through no fault of your own.
- Cabin confinement – this compensates you for any time you’ve had to spend confined to quarters because of sickness. Policies will usually reimburse you for every 24 hours you spend in confinement.
- Missed trips – if you are confined to your cabin because you’re ill and miss a trip you’ve planned at a particular destination, your policy can reimburse you.
- Changes to the itinerary – most cruises have a condition that says itineraries can be changed (for example if weather stops the ship from docking) but some policies will compensate you for missed port stops.
- Cruise interruption – this can compensate you if you have to miss part of your cruise, for instance if you need hospital treatment for a few days before re-joining the ship.
Is cruise holiday insurance included in my existing travel cover?
If you already have travel insurance you might be covered for some parts of your holiday, but a standard policy is unlikely to cover you for events like cabin confinement or missed port stops, which are unique to cruise holidays.
If you do have an existing policy double check the terms and conditions, you may even be able to bolt on additional cover to give yourself the protection you need without having to fork out for a second policy.
How long does travel insurance for cruises last?
You can buy single-trip travel insurance, which will cover you for one holiday. Alternatively, you can buy annual (or multi-trip) cover, which provides insurance for several holidays within a 12-month period.
However, it’s important to bear in mind that standard travel insurance (regardless of whether you buy a single or multi-trip policy) will only cover you for a set period of time – typically 31 days.
If you have an annual policy you can still go away several times a year, but each holiday can’t be any longer than the limit set by your insurer.
If you’re on an extended cruise this 31-day limit may not be enough to cover you for your entire holiday, so specialist cruise travel insurers will need your travel dates so that they can ensure you’re covered for the whole trip.
What countries does cruise insurance cover?
Broadly speaking, travel insurance is split into regions:
Insurers group countries according to their own rules and it’s not usually as straightforward as following boundaries on a map. For instance, Egypt is often classed as a European destination, which is something to bear in mind if you’re taking a cruise along the Nile.
The best advice is to check your policy documents to make sure the countries you’re visiting are covered.
What cruise insurance exclusions should I be aware of?
An exclusion is a scenario or issue that you won’t be covered for. Almost all insurers have exclusions, but they can vary between providers so always take the time to compare. Common exclusions include:
• Travelling to countries or regions that the Foreign Office has advised travellers not to visit
• Claims that are the result of drinking too much alcohol or taking drugs
• Cancellation for reasons that you have control over, such as having to cancel your holiday because you haven’t renewed your passport in time.
Can I buy insurance for cruises with a pre-existing medical condition?
A pre-existing medical condition is often listed as an exclusion, which means some insurers won’t cover you for any costs relating to that condition. If they do, you may be expected to pay a higher premium.
Alternatively, there are several specialist providers who specifically provide cover for anyone with a pre-existing condition and they often have additional benefits like a 24-hour medical helpline.