A listener recently wrote in asking why they should buy travel insurance, suggesting it’s not actually worth the money. Coincidentally, we also received a letter from a listener who wanted to share their insurance-related story. So I’m going to let THEIR letter answer the original listener’s question.
We missed our cruise today because of a canceled flight here in Minneapolis, and that was even with a plan to fly in a day early! Driving to the cruise port was out of the question because it would have meant a 26-hour drive to Florida without stopping! Please urge your listeners to avoid ending up like us and buy travel insurance. The reason we didn’t buy it was because it would have cost an additional $600 for our family of five. Hindsight is 20/20!
Insurance can be a lot like wearing a helmet when bicycling. Sure, it might seem unnecessary… until things go terribly wrong and you find out just how badly you needed it.
Why are we so big on trip insurance?
Because it covers more than you might think, including…
1. Trip Cancellation
Cruise lines make their money by filling cabins. If you have to cancel at the last moment due to unforeseen circumstances, they might not be able to put a new passenger in the space you vacated. Cruise lines cover that potential loss with cancellation penalties; if you cancel within two weeks of your departure date, you typically lose your entire cruise fare without even a partial refund.
If you can’t afford to eat thousands of dollars in cruise fare should you need to cancel, the only way to cover your costs is with trip protection. Not only do you want to make sure you have trip insurance, but you should always read the fine print to find out under which conditions it does — and doesn’t — cover your expenses.
2. Trip Interruption
If you miss the ship because of an airline or weather delay, insurance will often cover the costs you incur in getting to the next port on the itinerary so you can join your cruise in progress. Same deal if you unexpectedly need to leave your cruise early, due to an injury, death in the family, or severe weather.
3. Baggage Delays
Think lost luggage only happens to other people? Well, it happened to me! In 2014, the airline shuttling me to my cruise aboard the Royal Princess “misplaced” my luggage for 10 hours. There’s nothing like having an airline tell you they have “no clue” where your suitcases might be.
In the end, I didn’t have to use my insurance policy, but it was nice knowing that it would have allowed me to purchase up to $500 worth of essential items while I waited for the bag to find me. (Or should it have disappeared completely and never reached me.)
4. Medical Emergencies
Here’s hoping you never need to find out where on the ship the infirmary is located. But if you slam your finger in the balcony door or twist your ankle onboard, the policy will cover your out-of-pocket medical expenses. Cruise ship medical centers do not accept your regular medical insurance policy, and that policy may or may not cover medical care outside your home country. A travel medical policy is important backup for high doctor or hospital bills abroad.
5. Being Airlifted
This is the biggest worst-case-scenario reason to buy insurance. While it’s unlikely you’ll ever need to have a helicopter come to your rescue, we’ve all heard stories about it happening or witnessed airlifts on our sailings. We’ve also heard stories about how much it costs. (Bills can be as high as $25,000!) If ever there was a time to believe the old “better safe than sorry” axiom, it would be here.
Ultimately, travel insurance is really not all that expensive, especially when taking into account the ways in which it could pay for itself. While the goal is to never use the policy, the fact that trip protection costs — on average — around 4% of the total cost of your cruise and yet could save you thousands of dollars seems like a worthwhile investment in our eyes. You can buy trip insurance policies from the cruise line or more comprehensive and detailed policies from companies like TripInsurance.com.