Risky Business: Should You Buy Travel Insurance For A Cruise?

Before I started living this cruise life, it never occurred to me to buy travel insurance. I just figured the odds of me needing it were so slim, I’d eat the loss of having to cancel my trip or whatever.

Now I know better.

Travel insurance helps prevent a loss if you have to miss your trip for some reason, but that’s not the only thing it’s good for. In fact, if you’re going on a cruise, I’d go so far as to say you need to have a solid travel insurance policy in place.

Disagree with me? Read on and I think you’ll change your mind.

5 Reasons Why You Need Cruise Travel Insurance

1. Medical evacuations are costly.

If you become gravely ill on a cruise ship, there’s a good chance the on-board hospital won’t be able to help you. And if your need for emergency medical care is urgent, you’ll likely be life-flighted to a hospital on land. That means a helicopter will swoop in to hoist you off the ship.

According to Allianz, the average cost of such a procedure is between $25,000 and $30,000. And that doesn’t include the hospitalization costs you’ll incur when you get to land, which may not be covered by your medical insurance if you’re in a foreign country.

The idea of being medically evacuated off a cruise ship seemed so far-fetched to me… until I saw one happen earlier this summer in Alaska. On our first night at sea, a man’s artery burst in his leg. He was losing so much blood that the medical crew called for blood donations on board, and the man actually receive a transfusion. That kept him stable for a few hours until the Canadian Coast Guard flew out and evacuated him from the ship.

Last I heard, he and his wife were stuck in a hospital in British Columbia where he had undergone multiple surgeries. A medical flight back to their home was completely out of their budget.

A good travel insurance policy will include enough coverage for medical treatment and emergency medical transportation to prevent you from going broke if something catastrophic like this occurs.

2. Flights are a nightmare.

I think we all know the global air travel situation is a mess-and-a-half right now. Flights are getting cancelled left and right. Delays are out of control. If you’re flying to your embarkation port the day of your cruise (or even the day before) and your flight gets delayed or cancelled, there’s a not-insignificant chance that you’ll miss the sail away party.

If you booked your flight through the cruise line, you might have some financial recourse. If you didn’t? You’re out of luck.

Unless you buy travel insurance. They’ll reimburse any change fees you may incur from last-minute scheduling snafus or missed connections. And if you purchased your flight through a loyalty program, they’ll take care of any charges you encounter when re-depositing your points.

3. Luggage gets lost all the time.

Related to the aforementioned horrendous air travel situation, baggage loss is at an all time high. In fact, most experts are recommending that you not check a bag at all. (Experts like me.)

However, if you happened to check your bag for whatever reason, and your luggage gets lost? You’re looking at a whole cruise without clothes. Now, you can always scramble to the nearest Target and pick up a replacement wardrobe. But when you factor in all the pool time, formal nights, and outdoor excursions you’re planning to take? That new wardrobe is gonna cost a whole lot of money.

Travel insurance will reimburse you for that new wardrobe if your baggage is lost or delayed.

4. Cruise ships may skip ports of call.

They have the right to do that for any reason. Read your cruise contract. They also don’t owe you a thing if they do.

Now, most cruise lines will offer a token of apology, like an onboard credit. But if you have a travel insurance policy with missed port of call coverage, you’ll get paid a lot more than that.

You know that medical evacuation I witnessed in Alaska? It required us to veer so far off course that we missed our first port of call. When I filed a claim with my travel insurance company, they cut me a compensatory check that was enough to cover the entire cost of my policy and then some.

The insurance paid for itself.

5. Accidents happen.

No one likes to think about this. But what if you get in a car accident on the way to the airport? What if a really bad illness confines you to bed? What if you lose your job, or a family member gets sick, or some other unforeseen emergency occurs and you have to miss your trip?

You could eat the loss. Or you could pay a nominal amount for travel insurance and get the full cost of your cruise (and flights and hotels and any other expenses incurred) reimbursed.

Do You Buy Travel Insurance When You Cruise?

Where do you stand on the travel insurance debate: do you buy it whenever you take a cruise, or do you prefer to wing it and roll the dice? Let me know in the comments.

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