The Australian Government advocates wholeheartedly one universal message when it comes to travel that: “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.”
It’s a message many choose to wisely heed, but some do not, and it’s very much a situation of putting your life and most certainly your financial future at risk if you venture onto foreign shores without adequate coverage for the unforeseen. The same applies to cruising.
Cruising is one of the safest and most enjoyable ways to take a holiday, and all reputable brands sailing the world’s seas today adhere to rigorous and robust international standards when it comes to safety, signposting and maintenance. However, accidents can and do happen, so you need to make sure you have ticked all the boxes to ensure peace of mind before heading out to sea for a period of time.
Did you know that the second you step onto a cruise ship, even while it is berthed in Australian waters, your coverage under the Medicare Public Health System (if you have it) and any privately held health insurance becomes null and void for treatment administered onboard. If by some unfortunate chance you turned the corner straight after boarding, slipped on a puddle of water and broke your ankle, Medicare is no longer of use and your travel insurance, if you have any, is your immediate point of call.
Here are some of the most appropriate policies in the market for your cruise holiday.
InsureandGo – Cruise Travel Insurance
Widely regarded both within the cruise industry and among existing and past customers as a policy attuned to the specific demands and unforseen possibilities that may come from a cruise, this policy is underwritten by Mapfre Assistance, one of the world’s largest insurers. Three different levels of cover are available, starting from $31 per person and offering escalating levels of cover depending on what particulars you would like secured.
Like most travel insurance policies, this policy covers things such as onboard and onshore medical expenses (outside of Australia only), baggage loss or theft, emergency expenses and repatriation. Additional benefits which can be added from the lowest tier coverage include expenses if a cruise misses a port, cabin confinement for medical reasons, personal accidents, journey resumption, financial default and more.
Allianz Global Assistance – Allianz Travel Insurance
More of a general travel insurance policy than one aimed specifically for a cruise holiday, however this product is one of the most popular travel insurance policies sold in Australia.
At a basic level, this policy covers the basics including unlimited medical cover, 24-hour emergency assistance and help on tangibles such as luggage and credit cards, regardless of whether any incident involving the holder occurs on land or at sea. A separate ‘Cruise Pack’ add-on can be purchased on top of the basic policy for more detailed occurrences such as cabin confinement, marine rescue or if your formal attire is delayed, lost or damaged.
The Cruise Pack can be purchased as an additional on the company’s Comprehensive, Domestic or Multi-Trip Plans (which can prove economical if you catch the proverbial cruise bug and want to take several sea holidays in a 365-day period).
Cover-More Travel Insurance – Premium International Plan
The chief competitor of Allianz Global Assistance, Cover-More Travel Insurance is often the policy of choice your travel agent will recommend and be able to sell to you. Some cruise lines, such as P&O Cruises, also advocate this insurer and its Premium International Plan.
Like its competitor, Cruise Add-On coverage can be added to its core insurance policy and also covers the basic medical, property loss or damage and repatriation. While a cruise ship’s medical centre stocks a number of over-the-counter products that can be charged to your stateroom account if needed, more detailed or specialist treatment can be expensive, which is what can potentially be covered through this add-on.
This policy also includes cover for item loss if for some reason your bags either don’t make it to the ship in time (such as if they are lost by an airline), with coverage provided for essential purchases such as toiletries and some items of clothing (if you keep the receipts).
Virgin Money – Cruise Insurance Pack
The Virgin Money travel insurance product says it is a vital add-on which can be bundled with its standard Comprehensive, Domestic or Multi-Trip travel insurance products. Different payout limitations apply depending on whether your policy covers a single person, couple or a family (including individuals under the age of 18).
On top of the standard premium, the Cruise Pack covers things such as emergency dental expenses, evacuation cover, cabin confinement, shore excursion cancellation, loss or damage of formal wear and marine rescue diversion. Like most other cruise policies, coverage is valid onboard the ship and during the cruise holiday but doesn’t cover travel in Australia unless specifically stated otherwise.
It’s important to note also that in your cruise policy, you should remember to cover yourself for potential activities you may choose to undertake during shore excursions. On some cruises, activities such as scuba diving, parasailing and sandboarding can be offered and these may fall outside the boundaries of what your cruise policy may consider to be a valid activity.
Of course, travel insurance and cruise insurance can be an extremely convoluted product and like all insurances, the fine print can be exhausting to comb through. Make sure you read the Product Disclosure Statement for the policy you choose, seek advice if needed and that all information relating to your individual circumstances are disclosed to your insurance provider.