What Sorts Of Travel Insurance Should A Cruise Goer Consider Getting?

What sorts of travel insurance should a cruise goer consider getting? There are two basic types of trip insurance policies - those sold by the cruise lines themselves, and those sold by travel agents or other independent providers.

What happens if you've booked - and paid for - your cruise, and are then summoned to jury duty and are unable to secure a delay? Or perhaps it's not jury duty, but your mother has suddenly fallen ill? Or there is a family emergency? What if your company is undergoing some sort of crisis and cancels all planned vacations?

After the final payment is made and/or once you're in the cruise line's penalty period, you would, unfortunately, not be eligible to receive a refund for canceling your cruise under the above scenarios. (Policies vary by cruise line, of course, so please check with your cruise line for their particular cancellation policies.)

That is why most travel agents recommend that travelers purchase trip cancellation insurance, said Emily Motycka, a travel agent with AAA Travel in Omaha, NE. Ms. Motycka, who considers crusing to be one of her specialties, suggests that "insurance is always a good idea."

There are two basic types of trip insurance policies - those sold by the cruise lines themselves, and those sold by travel agents or other independent providers. The insurance policies that are offered by the cruise lines themselves typically reimburse you for the cost of your fare for a trip that you needed to cancel for any reason that is covered by the policy. Generally, travel insurance covers illness, a death in the immediate family, certain listed perils, and jury duty. Most travel insurance policies will not cover acts of terrorism, business emergencies, or pet emergencies. However, recently, some plans have become more generous, allowing travelers to postpone their travel for any reason and still receive a large percentage of their fare returned to them.

Not all trip cancellation policies offer the same benefits, either. Some plans offer a complete refund of all monies paid, while others offer the refund in the form of a credit toward a future cruise, and still others offer a refund of only a percentage (such as 80%) of the fare. Again, policies will vary from company to company, so be sure to read the fine print in your policy to learn what it does and does not cover.

The other type of trip insurance provides coverage for trip cancellations due to medical reasons. "What we carry at AAA and what most agencies carry is a medical policy," explained Ms. Motycka. "What that means is it will cover the cost of your investment if the unforeseen happens and you become ill and not able to travel." Illness in immediate family members is also covered. A doctor's letter is required to file a claim.

Travelers may also want to consider purchasing a health insurance policy that will cover them while traveling. Often, medical insurance policies (including Medicare) do not cover insureds once they leave the country - and any ship with a foreign registry is considered to be outside the United States. Check with your particular health insurance company before you leave for your cruise and, if you find that you will not be covered once you leave the country, consider purchasing a short-term policy that will cover you. Nobody likes to think that medical emergencies - including ones serious enough to require an airlift from the cruise ship - can happen to them, but they can!

Many travel agents encourage their clients to purchase trip insurance. In all likelihood, your cruise will go off without a hitch. But if something goes wrong, it might be nice to have the reassurance that you're covered.

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