You’re booking the cruise holiday of a lifetime and really looking forward to it. It’s far from likely but as usual, you want to protect yourself in case things do go wrong. You even understand the different types of cruise insurance you can get (see our article – Do you need cruise travel insurance?).
You’re nearly ready to buy, but it’s a big decision so you probably want to be safe rather than sorry. We look below at the differences between the types of cruise insurance and give the questions you can ask to help be sure about the cover you’re getting.
If you’re ready to buy, see our cruise travel insurance group. You can join for free to get access to best-buy tables (a mini cruise holiday insurance comparison) and a members-only discount on standard travel insurance including cruise cover.
Types of Cruise Insurance cover
A quick search on the internet will produce many options for cruise insurance, but some care is needed to chart a course through these offers as despite all being labelled ‘cruise insurance’, they are not all the same thing. We talked about the differences in our article “Do you need cruise travel insurance?”.
Assuming that you’ve read that article, you’ll know that you can get both standard travel insurance including cruise cover, and specialist cruise-specific cover. The difficulty is that both of these types of insurance are called “Cruise insurance” by the insurance companies themselves. To make sure you know what you’re getting with each, read on.
Standard travel insurance including cruise cover
Covering your cruise using standard travel insurance can seem very attractive – it is often cheaper (particularly if you are taking other holidays that year) and if you buy your insurance annually, you might even have the policy in place already.
However there are several points worth checking before you commit to this route:
- Ask your insurer if your policy cover cruises – insurers know that cruises can mean sky-high medical costs (in an emergency, air-lifting someone from a ship is extremely expensive). For that reason, cruises are sometimes excluded from cover on annual policies and this detail could be buried in your documentation. A quick phone-call is all that is needed to check.
- Check the limits of your cover – for many people, a cruise is the most expensive holiday of their year with fares for some reaching into the £000’s. However, some cheaper annual policies come with just £1000 of cancellation cover. That means in the event of cancellation you’d be out of pocket for everything over the £1000 limit, potentially leading to a big loss.
- Consider what is not covered – these standard travel policies were designed for a more ‘typical’ holiday experience (city breaks, beach time, and so on). As a result they don’t include cover for the type of events you may encounter on a cruise – such as being confined to your cabin by the ship’s doctor if you are ill, or losing all the money you’d spent on exciting excursions in a certain port because the ship’s itinerary changes and you miss it. These types of event are covered by specialist cruise-specific policies.
What does cruise holiday insurance cover with a specialist policy?
Specialist cruise cover can be bought as a standalone policy, or in some cases it can be added to your standard annual travel policy as an extension. Naturally, it comes at a cost (competitive providers do exist – Thomas Cook are a well known favourite who can provide this type of policy) but it gives both peace of mind and potentially significant protection for events that standard policies will not cover.
All policies vary but a specialist cruise holiday insurance policy can include cover for many events including:
- Higher medical limits – these days many non-cruise travel policies have high medical limits anyway, however the limits are often higher on cruise policies to allow for the expense of a repatriation by helicopter and then plane. Specialist transport, travelling nurses and equipment soon adds up to extremely large amounts of money.
- Higher cancellation limits - some policies offer up to £25,000 of cancellation cover (even the most expensive non-cruise policies usually top out at £10,000), meaning even ultra-luxury cruises are covered.
- Missed departure – if you miss the departure of the boat and its not your fault (e.g. your flight is late), that’s a pretty big downer on your trip! Missed departure insurance covers this event and pays for you to get to the next port so you can join the boat at the earliest possible opportunity.
- Cabin confinement – this provides compensation if you are confined to your cabin for medical reasons (e.g. the ship’s doctor recommends you remain in bed) or if bad weather prevents you from leaving.
- Itinerary change and missed shore insurance – bad weather or timetabling restrictions can lead to the boat missing one of its docking points. This could leave you needing cover for the trips you’d planned, hire cars you had booked and so on.
This type of specialist cruise insurance covers you for the specific events you could encounter on your voyage so it is worth investigating the costs before you go. Remember that most insurers don’t use the terminology ‘standard’ and ‘cruise travel insurance’, instead you’ll need to ask whether you are covered for each of the events listed above.
So how can you make a good cruise holiday insurance comparison?
The prices for the different types of insurance will vary along with the extent of their cover. Hence it is worth shopping around and comparing the policies available so you can select the most appropriate one.
Bought by Many’s cruise travel insurance group is a good place to start. Joining the group will give you access to a discounted standard travel insurance policy that will remain valid even if you are on a cruise. If you prefer to get the additional protection, joining the group also gives you access to a list of best-buys for specialist cruise insurance, from companies such as Thomas Cook, saving you some time in shopping around.
Have a safe trip!