I wrote an opinion piece on this earlier. This is designed to be factual.
Do you need insurance? Yes.
Do you have to buy trip insurance? It depends. Some people swear their credit card provides trip coverage. (Read the fine print.) Some think nothing could go wrong. Some wait until they get home and threaten to sue the cruise line.
Think of all the things that could happen.
- Get sick before the trip.
- Lose your job before the trip.
- Get sent out of town on business the week of the trip.
- You miss your flight.
- Your flight is canceled.
- Plane to the port is late.
- Arrive late to the port.
- Get sick on the trip.
- Pass away on the cruise.
- A close family member passes away while you’re cruising.
- Miss the ship at a port.
- Miss the flight home.
This is probably not an exhaustive list of what could go wrong. So, the question is – how many of these risks are you willing to take?
Also, consider the insurance source. The least path of resistance is to purchase insurance with your cruise. However, if you’re like us and book your own flights, the cruise line insurance probably won’t cover any problems.
Read the policy. The best policy you could probably get is “cancel for any reason” coverage. If you change your mind, you can get your money back.
Medical insurance will probably cover you out of the country – except Medicare and Medicaid. My corporate Aetna insurance covered all of my (and Virginia’s) misadventures but they considered the ship’s doctor “out of plan”, so the reimbursement was lower.
Yes, I said “reimbursement.” The ship’s medical center charges you cash money to your shipboard account. They’re not going to file with your insurance and bill you the difference. So, be prepared to pay full price onboard. Keep all your receipts! When you get home, file with your health insurance provider, take the receipts and what you reimbursed, and file that with your travel insurance provider. We’ve done this a few times, and have always received 100% of the money back. However, we’ve had medical bills on the ship that were our highest expense by far.
“I can’t afford the insurance.” How did you afford the cruise? More importantly, when the ship sails away in Mexico because your wife spent too much time shopping (or your husband spent too much time drinking), how are going to afford to get home?
Get trip insurance. Visit insuremytrip.com or your favorite broker. Just get it.
For those who are afraid of everything, here are some notes from Virginia’s research for our niece before their first cruise:
There is trip insurance that covers everything, which you can buy directly through an independent insurance company. My research found the most comprehensive plans are offered by Nationwide Insurance. None of the other plans we have looked at cover as much, especially when it comes to pre-existing conditions and actual situations (both medical and ship related).
Most plans don’t cover pre-existing conditions. They have a “Look-back Period”, which varies from 90 or 120 to 180 days. This means if, for instance, you had to cancel your trip because your Dad had to be hospitalized in an emergency for his COPD, and you decided it was serious enough not to leave, they would look back at HIS medical records for that period of time, and if there was any treatment, change of meds, or anything that indicated this was not an unforeseen outcome, they would not cover your trip cancellation.
Nationwide has a pre-existing condition waiver. They also cover stuff that surprised me! If your itinerary gets changed, they actually will compensate you per port. This is an unusual benefit.
Not many insurance plans cover trip cancellation as well as medical while you are on the trip. Compared to the coverage we have through the cruise line, they are a little more expensive, but they cover the flights, hotel, etc., rather than only the cruise. While Virginia was writing this note originally, there was a big discussion about insurance on Cruise Critic, and many people were recommending Nationwide.
This is not a recommendation, since we haven’t used them (yet), but to get a quote and the complete details on the plan, call Nationwide at 877-970-9059. This is different than their main number. It is direct to the group that handles travel insurance.