When you book your cruise, don't overlook purchasing travel insurance, too—it's well worth the cost, even if just for peace of mind.
Travel insurance plans cover trip cancellation and interruption, supplier default, and international medical care—or various combinations of these—so you can set off on your journey worry-free.
Comprehensive Travel Insurance
Comprehensive travel policies typically cover trip cancellation and interruption, allowing you to cancel or cut your trip short because of a personal emergency, illness, or, in some cases, acts of terrorism in your destination. Such policies also cover evacuation and medical care. Some also will reimburse you for trip delays because of bad weather or mechanical problems, as well as for lost or delayed baggage. Another type of coverage to look for is financial default—that is, when your trip is disrupted because a tour operator, airline, or cruise line goes out of business. Generally, you must buy travel insurance when you book your trip or shortly thereafter.
Expect comprehensive travel insurance policies to cost about 4% to 7% of the total price of your trip (it’s more like 12% if you’re over age 70). Always compare several policies and read the fine print to make sure that you are covered for the risks that are of most concern to you. Some sites simply compare different policies based on criteria you enter and can help you make sure you are getting the best deal.
Recommended Travel Insurance Providers
- Allianz Global Assistance
- CSA Travel Protection
- HTH Travel Insurance
- Travel Guard
- Travel Insured International
- Travelex Insurance
Travel Insurance Comparison Sites
Most general travel insurance policies include medical coverage and evacuation, but if you’re not opting in for that route, it’s wise to consider buying medical-only coverage at the very least (which may or may not be cheaper than a comprehensive policy). Note both Medicare and many private insurers exclude most medical expenses outside of the United States in their coverage (including medical treatment on board the cruise ship itself, even if it leaves from a U.S. port). Medical-only policies typically reimburse you for medical care (excluding any related to preexisting conditions) and hospitalization abroad, and provide for evacuation and repatriation if necessary. Keep in mind that you’ll still have to pay the bills upfront and await reimbursement from the insurer. Policy holders can also usually get doctor referrals, access to hotlines for medical consultation, cash for emergencies, and other assistance.
Recommended Medical-Only Insurance Providers
- International Medical Group
- 800/628–4664 or 317/655–4500
- International SOS
- 800/732–5309 or 410/453–6380
Cruise Line Insurance
Nearly all cruise lines offer their own line of insurance, too. Most policies are underwritten by major insurers and typically include protection for trip cancellation/interruption, travel delays, and baggage loss or delays, as well as emergency medical and/or dental benefits, medical evacuation and transportation to the nearest medical facility, repatriation of remains in case of death, and other worldwide emergency assistance. Policies purchased through the cruise lines are generally based on the total price of the trip booked with them despite age, and can be the most cost-effective coverage for senior citizens. Compare the coverage and rates with similar polices from third-party insurers to determine which is best for you.
INSIDER TIPCruise line policies may not cover airfare and hotels that you paid for independently.
Cruising Bill of Rights
In 2013, after a string of mishaps on large cruise ships, CLIA, the Cruise Lines International Association, adopted a so-called Bill of Rights for cruise passengers that outlines what a passenger is entitled to when booking a cruise on one of their member lines. On a basic level, it provides some assurances, given that most of the major cruise lines in the world are members of CLIA. Interested in reading it? You can download and review the Bill of Rights from the CLIA website.