Off on a cruise holiday? With so much to see and do, cruises are fast becoming a popular holiday choice but be warned, standard travel insurance may not provide the cover you need.
Cruise ships, equipped with a wealth of things to see and experience, are fast becoming a popular holiday choice for couples, families and groups alike.
However, Gocompare.com is warning that standard travel insurance may not provide adequate cover for some of the specific problems can occur on a cruise.
According to ABTA’s 2017 Travel Trend’s Report, 13% of holidaymakers are planning a cruise in the next 12 months.
But, setting of on a cruise holiday is very different to jetting off on a more traditional holiday.
Cruise holidays typically involve visiting a variety of destinations, relaxing on a floating resort with numerous activities to partake in and attending formal dinners.
As a result, as Gocompare.com warns, standard travel insurance may leave you exposed.
What happens for example if you fall ill during your trip? Or are confined to your cabin as a result of a contagious illness such as Norovirus?
If you need medical help, you will have to pay for treatment from the ship’s medical officer.
If your medical needs are greater than can be managed on the ship, perhaps you are suffering from a very serious medical emergency, you may have to be airlifted to the nearest hospital. This of course may be hundreds of miles away.
What about if you miss the ship’s scheduled departure and, as a consequence, an entire leg of the voyage?
For these reasons alone you need to think carefully about the travel insurance you need.
Gocompare.com reviewed over 1,750 travel insurance policies which revealed that across single trip and annual insurance policies, well below 40% provide cover for cruises as standard.
Around 10% specifically exclude cover for cruises, while others offer cover for an additional premium.
Where cruise-specific cover is provided, policies vary hugely in the financial protection they offer so, it’s important to shop around to make sure you buy a policy which covers your needs and the cost of your cruise.
Here are some 5 key points to consider as you buy cruise insurance:
1. Medical cover and maximum ages
Compared to a standard holiday, medical expenses for those on a cruise can be higher. Quite simply this is because you have to pay if you need to visit to the ship’s doctor. If you need to be transported to hospital or even repatriated, these costs all have to be covered.
To cover all eventualities, the recommended minimum amount of medical cover you should have is £1m for Europe and £2m for the rest of the world.
Be aware that cruise insurance generally offers extended cover for older people and generally covered all pre-existing medical conditions.
As with buying any insurance thought you need to ensure you understand the specifics that the insurer is offering with their cruise insurance and honestly discuss your needs. Not doing so could invalidate your travel insurance.
Cruise holidays, as indeed many holiday, really can be very expensive and are often booked well in advance. It therefore makes sense to ensure you don’t miss out on cancellation cover and buy your travel insurance around the same time as you buy your cruise or holiday.
Be aware of the maximum pay-out for cancellation as this varies hugely between policies – from as little as £250 to £25,000 per person. Select a policy which covers the cost of your cruise and any pre-paid excursions.
3. Cabin confinement
If during your cruise you can’t leave your cabin due to illness or poor weather conditions, most cruise-specific policies will pay-out a daily amount.
As with cancellation cover, limits vary widely, from £15 to £1,000, depending on the policy.
You also need to make sure you understand the conditions under which a claim can be made.
For example, a claim for cabin confinement as a result of illness will probably need to be supported by a note from the ship’s medical offer.
Some policies will also reimburse the cost of pre-booked excursions which you were unable to use as a direct result of being confined to your cabin due to illness or injury.
4. Cruise itinerary change compensation
On occasion your cruise itinerary may be changed. This may be down to adverse weather conditions or perhaps timetable restrictions mean a scheduled port visit has to be cancelled.
Some cruise-specific policies may compensate you for such changes to your cruise itinerary.
5. Extended baggage cover
For a cruise you may take more luggage with you when compared to a standard holiday.
To start with you, if you embark in the UK, typically you are not subject to the same baggage weight restrictions as if you were flying abroad.
Critically too, with the wide range of activities aboard ship, along with some cruise lines’ requirements for formal dining attire, you may require more than your usual amount of clothes that you would take abroad.
To help you, cruise travel insurance can offer higher limits for loss of or damage to baggage.
Alex Edwards from Gocompare.com Travel Insurance commented: “Once seen as the preserve of wealthy, elderly passengers, cruise holidays are enjoying a boom in popularity with lots of different types of holidaymakers.”
He added “Cruise-specific cover is tailored towards you being on a ship.
“Cruises are like lots of different holidays all rolled into one so you’ll need to make sure all the destinations you’ll visit are covered by your policy, even if you’re only leaving the ship for a few hours.
“Also, if you decide to participate in any activities, like snorkelling or golf, you’ll need to check the activities section of the policy wording to make sure you are fully covered.
“Finally, it’s really important to read policy documents carefully because they will contain exclusions and conditions you need to be aware of.
“For example, if you book an on-shore excursion independently, you might not be covered if you don’t get back in time and the ship sails without you.
“Medical treatment required as a result of excessive alcohol consumption is commonly excluded by most policies.”
Diane Ray, MoneyHighStreet.com said: “When buying any insurance, travel, cruise or otherwise, take to time to consider what you need cover for, check out what’s being offered, and make sure there’s a match.
Be aware that if you have pre-existing medical conditions, perhaps for example you are using a wheelchair, are travelling whilst pregnant or have other special needs then you need to ensure your prospective travel insurance is suitable for your needs.
As touched on above, when buying insurance, you must declare all facts to your insurance provider to enable them to properly assess your situation and provide you with the insurance cover required.
Failure to provide the full facts may result in you taking out inappropriate insurance and possibly finding you are not covered when you need to make a claim.
Finally, don’t just focus on buying the cheapest, that may or may not meet you needs. Focus on ensuring you get the insurance cover that you need.”