Avoid Cruise Line Travel Insurance. Get Your Own.

With the winter cruise season about to launch, you need to make smart choices about your travel insurance if you’re heading into the Caribbean. Rule # 1, avoid insurance sold by the cruise lines.

Buy only from companies that specialize in travel and trip cancellation plans.

Cruise companies specialize in pampering you on the high seas.  They are not in the insurance business.

The in-house policies sold by cruise lines are primarily designed as add-on items for American cruisers who make up the bulk of the cruise business.  As such, most provide only low supplemental health benefits–$10,000 to $25,000 in most cases, and their other services are skimpy.

For Canadians that is completely inadequate.  The travel insurance you normally buy when you take a vacation out of the country covers from $1million to $5 million and includes such essential features as direct payment to foreign hospitals and doctors, air ambulance repatriation to a hospital at home, and a direct link to your provincial government health insurance agency.

Just remember that when you go on a cruise, the doctors and nurses on board are independent contractors and they will charge you just as you would be charged on land, in Arizona, Texas of Florida. Ship-board care is designed to keep you alive until you can be transported to the nearest hospital on land—wherever that may be.

If you are forced to be offloaded in a foreign port—say Trinidad, or Aruba, or Jamaica, your bills could run into thousands of dollars per day and it will be up to you to arrange your travel home and pay for it, if you don’t have a repatriation benefit—which all Canadian, private travel insurance do.

Cruise lines like to bundle all of their costs into one package so it’s easy for you to buy.  But bundling travel insurance is a bad idea because it discourages you from looking at the details of your travel or trip insurance contract. And not knowing what’s in your contract can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars in unexpected medical costs.

Your best, easiest and cheapest way to ensure that you are fully covered for any medical emergency while cruising is to buy stand-alone private travel insurance that is specifically designed to supplement your provincial health insurance.  That’s the same kind of plan you buy when you’re taking trip to Europe, Florida or California, or spending the winter in the sunbelt as a snowbird.

Don’t get talked into buying an in-house cruise line insurance plan just because it’s “easier” to make everything all inclusive. It can cost you—big time.

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