You’re ready for your cruise, getting ready to board a plane and in a few short hours get on the ship. Then you get the dreaded news, your flight will be delayed. You go to the gate agent to see what options you have but unfortunately, you are not going to make it.
You’ve made it on the cruise, everyone is having a wonderful time when one of your party starts feeling so sick that they go to the doctor onboard. They are diagnosed with appendicitis and need to get to a hospital immediately.
These are just a couple of the many reasons your trip could be cancelled or interrupted. I have clients all the time who say “I don’t plan to cancel and everyone is healthy, so let’s skip the insurance.”
The problem is that we don’t anticipate what could happen.
I have also realized lately that there may be some misconceptions about insurance, leading many people to leave it off as a result.
There are a number of options when it comes to vacation protection plans. You can usually book with the travel supplier/cruise line or you can book independently. There are differences in the plans and you want to be aware of that. You especially want to make sure you are reviewing the coverages and payment options.
With all independent insurance and some supplier insurance, you pay for the insurance at the time of purchase. This is usually also linked to the effective date of the policy. If I’m paying for the insurance now, I’m doing so to start coverage. If the insurance won’t be paid until the final payment is made, chances are there is no coverage until it is paid. This also means that you can add or remove the coverage up until that final payment is made without any penalty.
This is where we are running into issues lately, due to policy changes. With most cruise lines, you must add the vacation protection plan before the final payment is made. However, one cruise line is now considering your reservation “paid in full” when you have reached the amount the cruise line will retain. If you book with the cruise line direct, this means when you are truly paid in full. If you book with a travel agent though, this is sooner. For illustration, this means that if your agent is making a $100 commission, your reservation will be considered paid in full when you reach a balance of $100. It’s unlikely that your travel agent will tell you how much they are getting in commission so it is critical to know what the cancellation policy is for the insurance. With most cruises, I recommend adding the insurance right from the start and if you want to remove the insurance later, you can do so before the reservation is paid in full (again, following the same guidelines above).
Many of the cruise lines have policies now that have some sort of a “Cancel for Any Reason” clause. This means that if the insurance company underwriting the coverage denies your claim, the cruise line may offer you a credit towards a future sailing. Granted you are not getting any money back if the cancellation is due to a non-covered reason, at least you won’t completely lose all the monies paid.
While independent insurance is non-refundable at the time you add it, you may be able to modify the coverage to include other expenses purchased later as well as change the dates of coverage.
You have to do what’s right for you, but things I recommend considering include:
- What are the cancellation penalties for the reservation? Is the amount I would lose worth the risk?
- If I needed to come home during the trip, what would my costs be?
- If a traveling companion became ill or injured during the trip, what would be covered by other insurance? Many US health insurance policies will only cover you in the United States.
- What exclusions do the policies have? Many cruise line policies will not cover anything booked separately such as airfare, pre and post hotel stays, etc.
Check with your travel agent as well on pricing various policies. Some agents will also be able to sell you independent insurance. We sell two different independent carriers as well as the policies offered by the suppliers.