Cruise travel insurance is nothing new. Unlike normal travel insurance, which covers basic hiccups like weather-related flight delays and lost luggage, cruise travel insurance ups the ante by protecting passengers when it comes to missed port departures, itinerary changes and other cruise-specific issues.
(Check out our Travel Insurance Primer for Cruise Travelers for a comprehensive guide to buying travel insurance).
In today's world, plans have been optimized to cover passengers for problems related to COVID-19. Among this extra layer of protection are trip cancellations and medical expenses -- typically higher for cruises, where a medivac might be necessary to get to a hospital.
Cruise travel insurance can be purchased directly through the cruise line or via an insurance company like Allianz, Berkshire Hathaway and John Hancock.
What does COVID travel insurance cover?
Comprehensive insurance plans that include COVID-19 coverage protect cruisers from expenses related to trip cancellations and interruptions as well as medical emergencies and evacuations.
Since COVID-19 is now a named event, additional benefits are covered in unforeseen circumstances. These might include emergency medical care (i.e. a hospital visit related to COVID-19), trip interruption (i.e. if a traveler tests positive and must return home) and trip cancellation (i.e. if a travel warning is issued and prevents you from visiting that country).
If you test positive for COVID-19 during your trip and end up needing to quarantine at a hotel, a handful of insurance plans will also cover the cost of these accommodations and meals (check your provider).
Traveling with a pre-existing condition? Regardless of which plan you choose, make sure it covers pre-existing conditions or that the plan offers a pre-existing condition waiver.
Should I get travel insurance during COVID-19?
If there were ever a time to purchase travel insurance, it's now. Ever-evolving policies and protocols, travel warnings and other global events, and medical emergencies are all reasons your cruise could be affected. Travel insurance gives you peace of mind, knowing any medical expenses and costs associated with your cruise are covered.
If there's a chance you will want to cancel your cruise for a reason not outlined in your policy, you also can add CFAR (Cancel for Any Reason) coverage. This supplemental insurance protects you from reasons such as a fear of travel or simply no longer wanting to go. Bear in mind: CFAR generally reimburses you for only a percentage of money lost, unlike comprehensive policies trip cancellation coverage, which reimburses you for 100 percent.
Before you purchase travel insurance, check to see if it's required by your cruise line. Some lines, such as MSC Cruises, require unvaccinated passengers to purchase the company’s travel insurance. Requirements vary by age, country of departure, ports of call, sailing date and other factors, and can change at any time.
It's also worth noting that some cruise lines are including COVID-19 travel insurance in the price of the cruise fare -- or like Norwegian Cruise Line, covers you for every eventuality related to COVID-19 -- so check the terms and conditions.