Travel insurance & COVID-19: Are you covered for cruises?

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Find out which travel insurers are offering COVID-19 benefits for cruises.

There’s no doubt Australians are keen to cruise again. Since the government announced last week it wouldn’t renew its ban on international cruise ship travel – from 17 April 2022 – the excitement has been palpable for many.

Then there was the collective sigh of relief from those employed in the cruise industry; leaders said the ban hit the economy by some $10 billion.

At Finder, the increased buzz wasn’t a surprise. A survey we ran last month revealed that 14% of Australians (equivalent to 2.7 million people) were interested in going on a cruise in 2022. And 8% of all respondents said they were looking to book a cruise “as soon as they can”.

While it’s understandable many are eager to set foot on a cruise ship after more than 2 years, here’s why it’s important to first be clued up about travel insurance.

What does cruise insurance include?

Cruise travel cover can insure you for a number of different mishaps with cruises. These include cruise delays and cancellations, on-board medical and dental expenses, cabin confinement and cancellation of onshore activities such as tour bookings.

Most travel insurers don’t cover cruises automatically. It’s commonly offered as an optional cover, meaning you need to pay more to get it added to your policy.

Smartraveller advises Australians to get cruise-specific travel insurance, regardless of whether they leave Australian territory.

But when it comes to COVID-related claims, at the time of writing, only a handful of brands can help you out.

Limited COVID-19 cover is available for cruises

Finder looked at 24 travel insurance policies, and only 3 providers directly specified that they offer cover for COVID-19 events on a cruise. Two other brands include cover if you choose their Cruise Pack add-on.

The following providers offer COVID-19 cover:

Important note. We reviewed the most recent product disclosure statements and website information of 24 travel insurance providers on 22 March 2022. Policies can vary a lot, so pay close attention to any policy exclusions or restrictions.

Travel Insurance Direct and Southern Cross Travel Insurance confirmed their policies have unlimited medical expenses cover (we couldn’t immediately reach Travel Insurance Saver to confirm if it did).

Boomers and Worldcare, whose policies are underwritten by Allianz, include the following information in their policy wording under Medical Cover While Cruising: “you are covered… if during your period of cover you are positively diagnosed as suffering a sickness recognised as an epidemic or pandemic (such as COVID-19).”

“A wake-up call” on cruise bookings

Responding to the limited COVID-19 cover available with cruise insurance, Adam Glezer, founder of Consumer Champion, said: “It seems insurers have looked at cruises and consider there to be a much greater risk of you catching COVID on a ship, compared with any other type of holiday.”

Glezer added: “This should be a wake-up call for consumers about the risks involved with booking a cruise at the moment.”

If you can find broad cover for COVID-related events, it’ll usually compensate you if you need to cancel your trip ahead of time if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19. Read more on the typical benefits available in our guide.

Be aware there are circumstances where a policy won’t pay out – for example, if a government-imposed border closure or lockdown is announced while you’re overseas. You also won’t be able to claim if you ignore a doctor’s advice that you’re too sick to travel.

These are just 2 reasons why you’ll want to read the product disclosure statement with care before signing up to a policy.

Some travel tips

Despite some understandable concerns with cruises, it’s worth noting that operators are introducing a raft of safety measures when they return. These include requiring all passengers to be vaccinated, testing passengers before they embark, air purification measures and some passenger restrictions. Open buffets are likely a thing of the past.

To get further peace of mind when it comes to your trip planning, read Smartraveller’s advice on taking care of your health while on a cruise. The guide advises how to prevent non-COVID diseases such as gastro bugs.

Work out a budget and keep some savings aside in case your travel plans are hit. Also, consider having some emergency cash ready. A credit card is one option to consider.

Even with comprehensive travel insurance in place, you’ll need to meet the initial costs of your trip re-arrangement until you’re paid out by your policy.

Learn more about how COVID travel insurance works.

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