Exorbitant insurance premiums and complicated policies are making it harder for older cruisers to set off on their beloved holidays.

Last week, after Cruise Passenger highlighted the problem, thousands of readers read the story and many got in touch about their own personal situation.

Cruise Passenger reader 76-year-old Steve Snell is a long-time cruiser, currently with four itineraries booked. However, trying to find insurance for these travels has been far from smooth sailing.

“At the moment I’m booked for a cruise on the Majestic (Princess), November 25, which has been cancelled and pushed back twice. I started looking into cruise COVID insurance and 1Cover which came up as $1062 for a 13-day trip to New Zealand.”

And while the $1062 fee already shocked Mr Snell for a short trip over the Tasman, he was then astonished at the prices he was quoted for the other three cruises.

“We’re back again on the Majestic Princess on March 31 to Vancouver. We decided to take that way as we are then flying from there to New York and picking up the Norwegian Prima, which sails to Iceland and then ends up in Southampton.

“I had no idea what it would come out to when looking at the different rates, I had a look at 1Cover again, it came out at about $10,000.

“This afternoon I went into HCF and that came up at nearly $9000.”

Mr Snell says as far as these and further booked cruises go, if the insurance premiums don’t come down, he simply won’t opt to cruise.

“We’re also on the Celebrity Edge on January 24. But right at this moment, my wife says we are not going to be paying $10,000 for insurance. And I also agree. This is a death threat to the cruise industry.”

Mr Snell has also been recommended to try NIB and CoverMore but has been unable to get through to them via telephone and explain his situation.

An avid cruiser, Mr Snell’s situation has now reached the point of discouragement and continued reconsideration of travelling the way he loves.

“I find it very discouraging; we were so excited, and a lot of work has gone into this. We’ve had four or five cancellations. You do start to feel depressed at the struggles and the battles you have.

“The big question is, are we going to pay that sort of insurance for these trips. The answer is no. We’re fine otherwise to travel, but we are cruisers, we’ve got four cruises booked you know.”

At its core, Mr Snell views his predicament as price gouging and an alienation of older travellers.

“I think it’s price gouging. I think it’s discrimination. I understand we’re all getting older, but it’s odds and evens isn’t it. It’s like private health insurance, you pay your money, you may get ill you may not. I think there’s definitely price gouging going on for sure.

“You can’t cruise without cruise COVID insurance. We’re going to Bali in four weeks’ time and Jetstar insurance through AIG, was only $184 each.

“That was one kind of relief, but it just showed how much gouging is really going on.”

What do the experts say?

Compare the Market’s travel insurance expert Warren Duke says it’s an unfortunate reality that the combination of a cruise in the current climate and an older traveller can lead to insurance premiums skyrocketing.

“Unfortunately, many older travellers have pre-existing medical conditions and covering those conditions does cost extra due to the higher likelihood of a medical claim.

“The cost can be high, but is crucial on cruise ships where cover under the Medicare scheme is not accessible. Weather conditions at sea can also create trouble for passengers, increasing the likelihood of falls and injuries.

“If you do need special medical treatment or treatment that is not available on board, it’s possible you will be dropped off at a port, which means insurers might consider repatriating you back home.  This comes at a considerable cost.”

Mr Duke says to an extent, it’s simply a numbers games for insurers and if claims are happening more frequently from certain demographics, premiums may shoot up.

“Most insurance companies have a wealth of data based on past claims and this helps them determine the likelihood of future claims and how large those claims might be.  Insurers utilise many factors to determine the price at which they are willing to insure a particular individual.

A number of factors are considered including your destination, how you’ll be getting around, how long you are travelling for, as well as demographic factors such as age, and whether travellers have any pre-existing conditions.”

A number of factors are considered including your destination, how you’ll be getting around, how long you are travelling for, as well as demographic factors such as age, and whether travellers have any pre-existing conditions.”

As to whether there’s price gouging happening, Canstar’s finance and insurance expert Steve Mickenbecker, says it’s a hard call.

“It’s bound to be expensive. But is it justified at that price? I couldn’t even make that call.

There are a lot of insurers providing cruise insurance, it’s quite a competitive market. Is it price gouging? I couldn’t say.”

I always expected very significant increases in costs when insurers came back on board.”

For those getting insurance through other methods such as health funds and credit cards, Mr Mickenbecker just warns to be cautious.

“Some of the credit cards for example, aren’t quite as good in their policies as the others, but you can get reasonable cover.

Like any other insurance policy, you’ve got to look at the fine print. But in terms of medical cover, they tend to be reasonable.”

As a final tip, Mr Mickenbecker says it’s probably best to plan even further ahead with insurance at the moment and get a quote before you start spending any other money.

“With quotes like those, they do change the nature of the holiday, don’t they? I always say to people, as soon as you start parting with cash that’s non-refundable, that’s the time to start taking out an insurance policy, but probably that’s not perfect in cases like this.

“It’s when you’re planning your trip, that’s the time to at least get the quotes to make sure that you can do it, because that becomes a real affordability issue.

You might end up being forced to consider if another holiday is better suited.”

Mr Duke says one other way to get costs down is to fine tune your policy.

“Make sure you’re covered adequately without going above and beyond what you need.

You can fine-tune your policy to make sure you’re not paying for things you don’t need. If you’re carrying $2,500 in luggage, it would be excessive to insure your luggage for $15,000.”

Customers can also reduce their premium by increasing their excess, should they wish to take the risk. The trade-off is that they will have to pay more in the event of a claim.”