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8 things you MUST know about travel insurance for cruises

With the return of international cruise ships, Australians are flocking back to their much-loved holidays. Finder research shows that some 2.7 million of us are interested in going on a cruise this year.


But before you pack your bag and sail away, you’ll want to get the lowdown on cruise travel insurance. Here are 8 things to keep in mind.


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

Smartraveller says Australians need cruise-specific travel insurance even if their ship doesn’t leave Australian territory. Why? The right insurance offers protection before your trip and while you travel on land. It can pay out for cruise delays and cancellations, missed port departures and tour bookings.


Also, there are mishaps that can affect you while on your cruise. As travel insurer Fast-Cover’s website says: “Just cruising in Australian waters? You’ll still need an international cruise travel insurance policy to cover you for unexpected on-board medical expenses.”


2. You can’t rely on Medicare if you get ill

If your trip is leaving Australia, you won’t be able to claim money back on Medicare or your private health fund should you get sick. Even if you only travel between Australian ports, there might not be a Medicare-eligible doctor on board, meaning you'd still be out of pocket. 


For these reasons, cruise travel insurance with unlimited medical expenses cover may be a good idea.


3. Most travel insurers offer cruise cover optionally

At Finder, we recently looked at 24 travel insurance policies and 18 of them didn't include cover for cruises automatically. 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.


If you’re not sure where to start, you can find a list of travel insurers that offer cruise cover here.


4. You can claim for COVID – but only on some policies

We’ve found 5 travel insurers that will offer COVID benefits for cruises, two of which you’ll need to opt-in to. Such policies can include medical expenses if you get sick with COVID-19 and quarantine costs if you need to extend your trip.


More brands are likely to offer COVID insurance as the industry kicks back into life, but the lack of cover is a reminder 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.


5. Check if your pre-existing conditions are covered

Even if your policy offers unlimited medical expenses cover, it could be overruled if your pre-existing health condition isn't covered. Insurers define a pre-existing condition as one that has existed before you bought a policy.


You can often get a condition approved by an insurer, but you’ll need to let your insurer know about it when you take out cover ahead of your trip.


6. There are ways to save on your policy 

In these budget-conscious times, 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 will have fewer benefits and lower claim limits.


One way you could directly save money is to opt for a higher excess, if you can afford to. Choosing a higher excess means you’ll pay more up-front if you have to make a claim on your policy.


7. Policies have exclusions you’ll need to understand

As with any travel insurance, you'll need to keep in mind a range of common policy exclusions. If Smartraveller states a Level 3 (Reconsider your need to travel) or Level 4 (Do not travel) warning for a country you’re visiting on your trip, you’ll commonly find that travel insurance policies will exclude insurance for those destinations.


Policy exclusions will be stated in your product disclosure statement (PDS). This will be available on a travel insurance provider’s website.


8. Keep your insurance details to hand

For added peace of mind, make a note of your insurer’s phone number in case something goes wrong. It’s easy to forget to do this while you prioritise your passport, travel tickets and cossie choices.


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Written by: James Martin, insurance expert at Finder
Published: 26 April 2022

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