What you need to know about travel insurance for cruises

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International cruise ships have returned, and many Australians are ready to pack their bags and head off on the perfect excursion. Before you set sail though, you’ll want to ensure you know all you need to about cruise travel insurance. Here’s what to keep in mind.

You’ll need insurance – even if you don’t leave Australia

If you’re planning on taking a cruise, you’ll need to make sure you have travel insurance that covers you for any potential mishaps, even if your ship doesn’t leave Australian territory. Things such as delays or cancellations, missed port departures, and tour bookings can all be covered by the right insurance policy. And if you should need any medical treatment while on your cruise, having travel insurance can help cover the costs.

Read: First cruise ship to arrive since COVID pandemic shutdown docks in Sydney

You can’t rely on Medicare

If you plan on travelling outside Australia, it is important to remember that you will not be able to rely on Medicare if you become ill. Even if you are only travelling between Australian ports, there is a possibility that there will not be a Medicare-eligible doctor on board, which could leave you with significant out-of-pocket expenses. Look into purchasing cruise travel insurance that provides unlimited medical expense coverage.

Cruise cover is often an optional extra

After looking into multiple travel insurance policies, we found that the majority of them don’t automatically include cruise cover. If you want cruise insurance and it isn’t offered to you as standard, you need to add it to your policy for an added fee.

Only certain policies cover COVID

There are a few travel insurers that will cover COVID-19-related expenses for cruises, but you may need to opt in to get this coverage. These policies cover medical expenses if you get sick and quarantine costs if you need to extend your trip.

More insurers are likely to offer COVID insurance as the industry picks up again, but the lack of COVID cover as a standard is a reminder of why it’s so important to read your policy wording carefully. Ask an insurer directly if you have any questions on what you will or won’t be covered for.

Read: You can get COVID travel insurance. But what does it cover?

Check if any pre-existing conditions are covered

Even if your travel insurance policy provides unlimited coverage for medical expenses, your claims may be denied if your pre-existing health condition is not covered. A pre-existing condition is defined as a condition that existed before you purchased the policy.

In many cases, it is possible to get coverage for a pre-existing condition by notifying the insurer ahead of time, but this may come with additional costs.

Look for ways to save

Comparing a range of cruise travel insurance policies is a good way to find competitively priced cover. However, be careful not to choose your insurance based on the price alone, the cheapest policies are cheap for a reason – they typically have fewer benefits and lower claim limits.

You may be able to save money on your policy by opting for a higher excess. Choosing a higher excess means you’ll pay more up-front if you have to make a claim, but it could save you money in the long run.

Ensure you understand any policy exclusions

There are a number of exclusions that you need to be aware of when taking out travel insurance. For example, if Smartraveller has issued a level 3 (reconsider your need to travel) or level 4 (do not travel) warning for a country you are visiting, it is likely that your travel insurance policy will not cover you for any claims relating to that destination.

Other common policy exclusions include pre-existing medical conditions and activities that are considered to be high risk. You can find full details of a policy’s exclusions in the product disclosure statement (PDS), which is available on the website of the travel insurance provider.

Read: Can you keep the cost of travel insurance down as you age?

Keep the details handy

Make a note of your insurer’s phone number in case something goes wrong. This way, you can have peace of mind while you prioritise packing your passport, travel tickets, and swimwear.

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Written by Ellie Baxter

Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.

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