Article written by Tom Ogg, Travel Consultant and cruise travel professional. Originally posted on CruiseReviews.com.
Why I wrote this article
I wrote this article
because I have received so many e-mails and reviews from CruiseReviews.com
readers that have lost money because they did not have travel insurance, or they
had the wrong policy. One family posted on Cruise-Chat.com that they were
insured by Access America who refused to pay on a valid claim for one reason or
another. Another couple from Spain was sold a cruise line‚s insurance, but when
the honeymoon couple arrived in Miami to check in for the cruise, the wife‚s
passport was in her maiden name and the cruise reservation was in her married
name. The cruise line refused boarding and treated them as a „no-showš and
refused to pay on the insurance that had been sold the couple. The stories go on
and on. Medical emergencies and evacuations not covered by insurance, passengers
being injured in accidents on third party vendors in foreign countries that were
not covered and financial failures of cruise lines that had sold insurance to
passengers who not only lost the money for their cruise, but also lost the money
they paid for an insurance policy that failed with the cruise line.
I decided to do some
research and try to find the best deal out there and at the best price.
First, do I really need travel
Everyone has his or her
own tolerance for risk. If you travel all the time and are not taking high-risk
trips, have adequate medical insurance and are well insured for other types of
losses, then you may not find travel insurance worth it. On the other hand, if
you are taking high-risk trips, do not have adequate medical insurance to cover
international situations and are not covered for many of the things associated
with traveling, then you may want to consider buying trip insurance. Here are
some signals that you will want to purchase insurance.
If you are leaving the country, you will probably want to purchase insurance
to protect yourself from potential losses if something should happen.
If you have any medical
problems that could flare up while traveling, you definitely should purchase
travel insurance to cover medical expenses, medical evacuation costs and trip
interruption losses. If you are at risk of having a potential heart attack,
stroke or any other medical condition, you need travel insurance. "At risk" also
includes folks that are over weight, have high blood pressure, are out of shape
and are generally more likely to experience medical discomfort than someone
without these conditions.
If there is any
potential that you might have to cancel or change your travel plans, you should
purchase travel insurance to cover the cost of the trip should you cancel
If there is any
possibility that the airline, cruise line, hotel or resort could go bankrupt
(either by their own cause, or because of world events) between the time
you book the trip and your departure date, you should purchase travel insurance
to cover financial failure
If you are planning on
tight airline connections to get to an international destination to board a
ship, you should purchase travel insurance to cover lost luggage and personal
effects as well as missed connections.
If you are
participating in any high-risk activity during your trip such as SCUBA diving,
surfing, skiing, mountain climbing, bike riding, hiking, water skiing,
parasailing, horseback riding, off road exploring or any other risky activity,
you should purchase travel insurance just to be safe should something happen
during the activity.
If you intend to „do
your own thingš for shore excursions on an international cruise, you should
purchase travel insurance to cover the likelihood that you could miss the
departure of the ship in a port of call.
Should I purchase
the tour company or cruise line‚s insurance or purchase it from a third
Hemphill Harris Tours
stranded hundreds of people all over the world that paid for travel insurance
Hemphill Harris sold them. Premier Cruise Line, Renaissance Cruises, American
Hawaii Cruise Lines, United States Cruises, Commodore and so on all sold their
own travel insurance. The insurance they sell is only as good as the underlying
company that offers it and time has proven it is very difficult to understand
the true nature of a company‚s financial situation. One of the interesting
things regarding companies offering self-insurance is that during the last 12
months while prices for cruises and tours have fallen to create demand, the cost
of the insurance has remained constant making it much more expensive than third
party policies that are based on the cost of the travel event.
Here is one fellow's
experience from Cruise-Chat.com about buying insurance directly from Princess
" Here is something
we've found out the hard way: If you are booking a cruise on Princess to include
your kids in a their own staterooms, as we did for our son, 43yo, and another
cabin for our daughter, 45yo, all together three cabins, and you pay the total
bill, be aware that if one of them cancels, as our son did, HE gets the
insurance credit of 75% for HIS NEXT cruise within ONE year limit. The beef
there, is that I paid for his stateroom and I should get the credit. It took me
two and a 1/2 years to convince Princess that I am the one with a checkbook and
finally, it took a Notary Public's certified letter to change and send ME the
Wait, there is more!
Just before the Iraq
war, my wife and I booked another cruise (Transoceanic from London to NYC) this
October on Grand Princess. Princess then changes the itinerary and the date to
Golden Princess. We did not like the itinerary and the new date and our TA
cancelled this cruise and booked both of us on Sun Princess (Eastern
Carib/10days) also this Oct 22. Now, we find out that since we cancelled the one
from England to NYC, Princess will deduct $600.00 from our sons' $1740.-
insurance credit. Princess reasoning,- one is allowed to apply the cancellation
insurance rebate only to the NEXT cruise, without any new
Mind you, the
Princess changed the itinerary, the vessel and the date! Oh well, one last
cruise on Princess this October (to obviously use up the Insurance
and hopefully many other cruises will be with Celebrity or Royal
companies specialize in travel insurance and are able to spread the risk over a
much broader base than an individual tour company or cruise line that attracts a
specific demographic that may influence the nature of the insurance product‚s
claims and settlement process. After all, that is what it boils down to,
just how good is the insurance once a claim is made? It is difficult to believe
that a tour company or cruise line will perform when their primary business is
providing vacations, not insurance. Third party insurance is without a question
the way to go.
OK, what should I look for in an insurance
First, the insurance
industry is heavily regulated so all of them are required to remain financially
viable. This is a major benefit in itself. There seems to be three things of
importance one needs to look at when shopping for insurance. I am going to try
and put them in their order of importance.
1. Settlement of
This should be your
primary concern. What good is cheap insurance if the insurance company is not
going to make good on your claims. As in the case of the couple on
Cruise-Chat.com (look under the NCL forum, „NCL Dream becomes a nightmareš
thread) what good was the policy they purchased from Access America? This kind
of nonsense should be your first warning about an insurance company.
If the insurance
company has a good history of settling valid claims then it makes sense to
pursue a quote from them.
Once again, what good
is a policy if it doesn‚t cover the specific losses that is the reason for your
claim? Here are some of the most important things to look for. I have listed
them in their order of importance from my perspective.
Evacuation: I was once on the QE2 Eastbound when a gentleman had a heart
attack a couple of days out from Boston. He was not covered by insurance, but
the ship‚s doctor had no recourse but to call for an emergency evacuation in
order to limit the cruise line‚s liability in a wrongful death lawsuit. If the
gentleman died and they had not made every effort to save him, virtually every
attorney would hold the cruise line responsible for the client's death. His wife
pleaded for the doctor to just let him stay in the infirmary, but the doctor had
no choice. The seas were running about 40 feet and the QE2 changed its course to
head to within helicopter range of Newfoundland. After three hours or so in
heavy seas, a helicopter arrived to pick the guy off the top deck of the ship.
Because of the movement of the ship in the heavy seas, the helicopter was unable
to pick the fellow up and called for a single winged aircraft to act as a
spotter plane so that the helicopter could get into the proper position. It took
almost an hour after the second aircraft arrived, but they successfully rescued
the gentleman from the deck of the ship. It was estimated that the cost of the
rescue was in the range of $40,000. Of course the gentleman and his wife were
responsible for the expense, not to mention the rest of the medical expenses
once he was delivered to the hospital in Newfoundland.
If you are at any risk
whatsoever, you should make sure that you are covered by medical evacuation
insurance to resolve such a tragedy. If you are traveling internationally, I
would strongly suggest medical evacuation insurance in the amount of $50,000. To
travel without this is absolutely foolish. I have seen medical evacuations on
virtually every cruise I have taken (and that‚s a lot.)
My favorite story about trip cancellation is when Tom and Mary Milano read a
review I wrote on the Sea Princess where a fellow was held in the ship‚s
infirmary for two days until arriving in Puerto Vallarta and was then put off
the ship pending a doctor‚s statement of health. He missed the ship and was
subsequently evacuated to San Diego for treatment for a mild heart attack.
Fortunately, he had travel insurance and was fully covered for trip
interruption, medical and medical evacuation. I wrote of the importance of
insurance and how everyone should buy it if they have any risk whatsoever. Tom
read the article and then called his travel agent to purchase travel insurance
for his next cruise that he had just booked. Lo and behold, Tom suffered an
injury shortly before the cruise and was able to recapture his investment in the
cruise from his insurance company.
You should be entirely
covered for cancellation of your trip.
Bankruptcy Protection: In this day and age, you should
be covered should the vendor (s) providing transportation or services for your
trip go bankrupt or otherwise fail to perform. As sad as it is, this is a very
real scenario in today‚s world and one does not have to go very far to find
examples of folks that have lost tens of thousands of dollars when their tour
company or cruise line went belly up.
Expense: Ok, say something does happen and your medical evacuation is
covered, how about the hospital costs once you get to the hospital?
Trip Delay and/or
Missed Connection: On almost every group I escort, someone is either delayed
in his or her departure, or misconnects on his or her way to the ship. Having
the additional cost covered to correct the situation adds options that can
resolve the problem quickly.
Support: If you do have a problem, what kind of support and assistance does
the insurance company offer? Will they actually help you by lending a
personalized service to resolve your problems? This is a HUGE benefit when
Lost, stolen or
delayed Luggage: The inconvenience of having your luggage lost by the
airlines is irritating, but the carrier‚s liability in these instances is not
enough to recover your actual loss. Look for additional coverage in case your
baggage is lost or stolen. Also, if you luggage is delayed arriving at your
destination, what kind of relief is there for you to acquire items necessary to
Benefits: Most policies have death and dismemberment benefits, dental
benefits and other benefits that may be important to you, however the above list
represents the bulk of necessary inclusions you should look for.
Once you have
established that an insurance company‚s settlement history is excellent and that
they offer the inclusions and benefits that meet your requirements, then price
becomes the next consideration. Do not be lured into a policy because its price
is less than other policies. Also, many travel agents enter into relationships
with insurance companies and they only offer that company‚s policies. You have
every right to demand the particular company‚s policy that meets your
OK, what insurance
company do you suggest that meets all of the above criteria?
When I first decided to
write this article, I was going to investigate each travel insurance company and
prepare a detailed comparison chart showing the differences. It got so confusing
that I simply decided to try and find the best choice using the above criteria.
I actually found two that were excellent.
However, one had a
price advantage for the same policy and everything else being equal, here is the
Travel Insured International:
This company has an excellent
reputation within the travel industry and also offers rich inclusions. When I
priced out a number of different policies, they seemed to be the most
competitive. You can use the link that appears below to get a quote from them on
your next trip. Note that it does not even require a name to prepare a quote for
you. You can feel comfortable that "no one will call." Give it a try.
Travel Guard has
an excellent claims history and also rich inclusions, however their policies
seem to be more expensive.
I sincerely hope
this helps you find the best policy for your needs.
I just returned from the Mariner of the Seas and had another medical
emergency. This one was interesting because the gentleman was traveling as a
solo and thought he had insurance, but wasn't sure what kind or who he was
insured with. To cut to the chase, he was involved in a medical evacuation from
the ship in Ocho Rios, Jamaica to the hospital in Montego Bay some 2 hours away.
The gentleman had severe internal bleeding and time was of the essence. The
ambulance demanded payment in full before they would transport him. Luckily, he
had enough credit on his American Express card to pay for the transportation and
also his treatment in Montego Bay. It was a very frightening experience as if
the gentleman had fallen to sleep in his cabin he would have more than likely
bled to death. It turned out OK, as he received a transfusion in Montego Bay and
then jumped on a flight back to Ft. Lauderdale where he checked himself into a
hospital where his medical insurance kicked in. This is what I would suggest
that everyone carry with them at all times on a vacation outside of the United