Does holidaying on a ship mean I need specialised travel insurance?
Possibly. Being on the water (or even on a boat docked at a port) can involve unique situations that just wouldn’t happen on land. It’s one thing to be rushed to a hospital cross-country, it’s another thing to be medically evacuated from ship to shore from mid-ocean. When choosing an insurance policy, take a look at what is – and what isn’t –included (i.e. the exclusions). Does your policy cover the different scenarios that can arise on a cruise ship? It might be worth considering specialised travel insurance for your cruise holiday.
Separate cruise policy or cruise travel pack?
Some insurers provide bespoke cruise insurance cover, while other providers (such as Westpac) offer a separate ‘cruise pack’ that can be added to a standard travel insurance policy.
What should I look for in cruise travel insurance?
As a minimum, look for a policy that offers the following:
- Medical expenses on board – does it include cover for medical attention and any required medication on board. You can actually get cover for everything from minor sea sickness through to major health events.
- Medical evacuation – this is vital, as if your condition is too serious to be looked after on board, you could need to be evacuated back to land.
- Delays from events such as bad weather, civil disorder and strikes.
- Cancellation – such as for unused travel arrangements including pre-paid shore excursions, if you’re confined to your cabin due to circumstances outside your control (e.g. injury or sickness).
Some cruise cover (such as Westpac’s cruise cover pack) will even cover you for some of the costs associated with lost or damaged, or delayed formal cruise attire – if you’re on a luxury liner you’re likely to be lost without your Sunday best included. You should check the Product Disclosure Statements (PDS) for details of what is covered by your plan.
Keep in mind that, as with many travel insurance policies, pre-existing medical conditions may not be automatically covered. As always, make sure you read the PDS closely.
Won’t Medicare cover me if I’m still in Australian waters?
Not necessarily, so it might be worth making some enquiries before you set sail. Even if you’re travelling between two Australian ports, you might not be covered by Medicare. That’s because doctors on board may not be Medicare-accredited.
If that’s the case, without appropriate cover you could be left with a large bill for any medical treatment you received whilst on-board.
So what could it cost for medical attention at sea?
There’s no set rule, but on-board health costs can be very high. At the extreme end, you could be up for over $100,000 if you’re sick enough that you need to be evacuated back to shore, according to Australian Government website Smart Traveller.
I’m feeling adventurous. How can I make sure I’m covered for that too?
Even if it isn’t part of cruise travel insurance, if you think you might be doing anything that could be deemed ‘adventurous’ – whether it be scuba diving to getting on the back of a motorbike during an onshore excursion – make sure you’ve got adequate cover as part of your overall travel insurance policy for whatever you’ve got planned. Once again, make sure you read the PDS thoroughly.
* Cruise Lines International Association Australasia