Cruise insurance is sometimes also called trip cancellation insurance or travel insurance. Cancellation insurance is not really a good name for it, since in addition to cancellation protection the insurance will usually cover emergency medical treatment, lost or delayed baggage or trip delay. When you cancel a cruise for a covered reason, the trip cancellation insurance coverage will reimburse you for the portion of your funds that the cruise line will not give back. If the cancellation occurs close to sailing, this is most likely the entire cost of your trip. Every policy is different, but valid covered reasons almost always must involve illness, injury, accident, or death. The person suffering the malady does not always have to be the traveler themselves, but could be a traveling companion or close family member as defined by the policy terms and conditions. It is important to understand that no insurance policy will cover cancellation expenses for business or personal reasons. Proof of covered cause usually requires producing either a doctor’s letter advising against travel or a death certificate.
Trip delay insurance most commonly comes into play when you miss the sailing of the ship due to airline flight delays or cancellations. Many clients believe (falsely) that if you booked your air through the cruise line you don’t have anything to worry about. This is not true. Read your cruise document fine print and will see in black and white that the cruise line has no legal responsibility for the performance or lack of performance of any airline. Although there are other good reasons to book your flight through the cruise line, missed sailing reimbursement is not one of them. Typically, the trip delay portion of a cruise insurance policy provides for a maximum amount of dollars to fly you to the next port where you may reasonably join the cruise. It is not unusual for this maximum amount to be $500 for the policy. This especially comes into play if you decide to purchase a family policy. For a single premium, this type of policy covers married couples and legal dependents traveling together. Although the premium may be lower than getting an individual policy for each passenger, you must weigh this against policy maximum coverage. For example, if a couple were taking an Eastern Caribbean cruise out of Miami and arrived so late that they missed their ship, they would likely have to fly to San Juan to join the cruise. With a family policy they would have a total of about $500 for the two airline tickets, but with individual policies they would usually have twice the maximum coverage of the family policy. Again, please be cautioned that all policies are different, and you must take the time to read and understand the coverage that you personally are signing up for.
Lastly, we occasionally meet clients that decline the cruise insurance based upon the fact that “we never get sick.” Unfortunately, even if this were true they fail to appreciate the possibility that they might be involved in something that is unavoidable. We know a client that “never got sick” but was involved in an unavoidable auto accident on the way to the port.
Premiums for cruise insurance are sometimes related to the total cost of the cruise, and sometimes not. A typical individual policy for a 7 day cruise has a premium of $89 to $150 depending on the cruise and coverage. For a specific example, see our information on Access America’s Travel With Ease Basic Policy.