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Travel insurance: everything you need to know before booking in our comprehensive roundup

When we asked our readers what the biggest concern they had about booking a foreign cruise last month, we were surprised by the reply.

It wasn’t the fear of catching COVID.  It was the difficulty of getting travel insurance.

A quarter of readers put problems with getting travel insurance as the number one reason they were worried about booking right away.

Now, at last, the insurance industry has woken up and created policies that really do give travellers peace of mind.

And while some Australians had not considered buying insurance to cover their domestic holidays, the experts say it’s worth considering post-pandemic.

The policy makers have created new additions to help cover travellers.

For instance, Allianz and 1Cover will offer travellers cover if they are confined to their cabin due to Covid.

Industry leading agent and owner of iTravel Belle Goldie says insurance has changed from part of the conversation to the start of the conversation.

“Insurance is something that people are leading with when it comes to questions. Prior to the pandemic insurance was an afterthought, but now with agencies like mine, we talk about insurance first. That’s a really important conversation that people need to be having across the board.”

With this is mind, we’ve consulted the experts and dug up everything you need to know about getting insurance on your domestic cruises.

Should you get insurance for a domestic cruise?

The experts say yes. Mr Martin says: “Smart traveller specifically advises Australians to get cruise-specific travel cover, regardless of whether or not you’re going to leave Australian territory, so I’d say that cruise specific travel insurance is an important requirement now.

“In COVID time, I’d be looking into cruise insurance with COVID cover, ideally prior to booking your trip, so you know the policies that are available to you.”

Michelle Levins, owner of My Cruise Concierge echos this sentiment.

“Yes, you are cruising, you need to be covered for evacuation, and repatriation. Shipboard medical treatment if often very expensive and this is not covered by your health fund or Medicare.

All of our clients do take policies that cover cruising when travelling domestically. We recommend it to everyone getting on a ship.”

Ms Goldie says often international insurance is actually required even for domestic cruising.

The things you want to be looking for are the same domestically to internationally. Even though the ports are domestic, the cruise lines are still international.

When you are purchasing travel insurance you need to make sure you are looking at the policy wording, for instance, some providers if it is an international cruise line like let’s say Royal Caribbean. It’s an international ship, it’s internationally registered, it’s essentially an international location and the doctors on board are international.”

What should you make sure you’re covered for?

Quarantine cover and and COVID cancellation come first, says Ms Goldie.

As far as travel insurance goes, the most important things to ask are, does the insurer cover you if you’re put into quarantine, do they cover if you contract COVID before you leave and you need to change or cancel your holiday plans and post-pandemic, try and look at an insurer who covers for provider insolvency.”

Ms Levins says medical cover and repatriation is most important, but to always carefully read what is and isn’t covered in your policy.

“Repatriation, evacuation and medical treatments on board as these are the areas that will run up the largest amounts.  Travellers should also be looking at Covid cover- what does it include, does it cover a cancellation of a cruise up to 100% of the value?  

Note that many insurance companies require you to take out a South Pacific policy to cover for domestic cruising.  Most domestic policies will not cover for domestic cruise.”

Mr Martin says you want to make sure you’re covered for cancellations and quarantine costs.

“Some policies will compensate you if you need to cancel our trip ahead of time if you’re diagnosed with COVID, but some will cover unlimited medical expenses. There’s also costs towards quarantining, for example, if you need to stay on board for a longer time period, if you’re infected with COVID or if there’s an outbreak on the ship.”

Should you buy insurance directly through a cruise line?

Ms Levins says insurance purchased through the line is simply not comprehensive enough.

Australian cruise passengers cannot purchase a comprehensive policy via their cruise line, some cruise lines do offer a cancellation cover or a deposit cover.

Keep in mind that not all policies cover all things, in all countries, in all situations. You need to make sure you choose a travel insurance policy that suits your needs covering medical including COVID, cancellation, personal liability, luggage and many other ares of cover that may be relevant to your trip.”

Are there any stand out insurers?

Ms Goldie says she’s using NIB and Go Insurance, and has had particularly good experiences with Go Insurance.

Insurance providers I’m using at the moment is NIB and Go Insurance. I’ve had to do a few claims with clients through Go Insurance and they’ve been fantastic. 

One client of mine was actually quarantined on a ship, they thought she made of had COVID she didn’t, but she ended up with a nasty respiratory infection and just 24 hours in the medical centre cost $5000USD. And Go Insurance were very easy, the claims process was very easy and the client got their money back in about a week.”

Ms Levins also sells Go Insurance.

“Our clients are using Go Insurance, and our clients are very happy with their cover. We sell this insurance and can provide quotes and details for you.”

How much will you be paying?

When checking for a quote, for two 45-year old cruisers, taking a two-week domestic cruise in October 2022, 1 Cover quotes $163.77pp, Allianz quotes $223.98 and Go Insurance quotes $204.95. 

Who’s offering what?

The below is brief summaries of what the major providers are offering, visit their websites and read their Product Disclosure Statements for more specific information on policies.

1 Cover 

  • Pre Paid Shore Excursions Cancellation – $1,000 
  • Missed Cruise Departure – $2,500
  • Cabin Confinement/Loss of Enjoyment – $1,500
  • Missed Port Cover – $750
  • Formal Attire Cover – $1,500  
  • Formal Attire Delay Allowance – $250
  • Unlimited medical cover and emergency assistance (on-board and while docked) 
  • Weather delays or natural disasters.
  • COVID cover

Allianz 

  • Unlimited Medical Cover while cruising
  • Unlimited Evacuation Cover – Ship to Shore
  • Cabin Confinement – up to $5001
  • Pre-paid Shore Excursion Cancellations- up to $1,000
  • Formal Cruise Attire Lost or Damaged – up to $1,000
  • Formal Attire Delayed – up to $250
  • Marine Rescue Diversion – up to $500
  • COVID cover extends to cruise

 

Cover-more (no COVID-19 cover on a multi-night cruise) 

  • Cruise cancellation changes on policy 
  • Onboard medical and dental cover – unlimited 
  • Ship to shore medical cover – unlimited
  • Sea sickness cover – unlimited 
  • Cabin confinement – up to a maximum of $1500 
  • Missed port (embarkation) – $1000 
  • Missed shore excursions – $1000
  • Adding cruise compatible COVID cover soon

Go Insurance 

  • Pre-paid excursions cover 
  • Missed shore visit – $100 per missed shore visit up to $500
  • Missed port connection cover 
  • Cabin confinement up to $2500 
  • Emergency formal attire cover 
  • COVID cover extends to cruise with unlimited medical and up to $20,000 for abandonment of trip 

Medibank 

  • No extra add on required for domestic cruising
  • Unlimited onboard medical and dental cover
  • Unlimited sea sickness cover 
  • Unlimited ship to shore medical cover
  • Missed port cover 
  • Cabin confinement up to $100 per day
  • Missed shore excursions 
  • Covid cover extends to cruise with unlimited medical and up to $2500 for cancellation and amendment fees 

NIB Insurance

  • If you’re booking a domestic cruise you will need to take out an international policy to be covered for cruise 
  • Cruise is automatically covered in international policies
  • Will cover costs if you get sick onboard, COVID included
  • Will not cover cancellation of cruise due to epidemic or pandemic

Travel Insurance Direct 

  • You will need an international plan to get cruise cover 
  • Medical evacuation and repatriation 
  • Cancellation or holiday deferment costs
  • Luggage and personal effects
  • COVID cover extends to cruise 

Insure and Go 

  • Not currently offering Cruise insurance 

RAC 

  • Any loss related to COVID on a multi-night cruise is excluded