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Compare & Buy Travel Insurance For 2021
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If you enjoyed cruises before ships were suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, you may be ready to sail again soon. With the vaccine rollout, demand is rising for booking cruises again.
Before you sail, travel experts say buying travel insurance is a wise idea. It may even be required.
For example, Royal Caribbean just announced a requirement that beginning Aug. 1 all unvaccinated guests over age 12 sailing from Florida must have travel insurance that covers $25,000 per person for Covid medical expenses and $50,000 per person for quarantine and evacuation if you test positive for Covid during the trip.
The Royal Caribbean travel insurance requirement will apply to cruises from Aug. 1 through Dec. 31, 2021, and all bookings (except bookings made from March 19 to June 28, 2021).
So how do you get this crucial travel insurance?
Recommended Travel Insurance for Cruises
Meghan Walch, head of cruise coverage analysis for InsureMyTrip, recommends you look into a comprehensive policy that includes the following coverage types.
Trip cancellation insurance will reimburse you for 100% of your nonrefundable trip costs if you have to cancel for a reason that’s listed in the policy. Make sure you have a travel insurance plan that includes Covid-related trip cancellation insurance because not all travel insurance plans do.
Emergency medical expenses and emergency evacuation: These important coverage types pay medical expenses such as doctor and hospital bills during the trip and the cost to get you to the nearest adequate medical facility if necessary. Make sure you have a plan that covers Covid-related medical and evacuation expenses.
Also note that Medicare and U.S.-based health plans may have limited or no coverage when you leave the U.S. If you’re traveling abroad, which is common for a cruise, you likely have little to no medical coverage without a travel insurance policy.
There are travel insurance plans with up to $500,000 in medical expenses coverage and $1 million for emergency evacuation. Even if your cruise line doesn’t require high amounts like this, expenses can quickly add up if you have a claim.
Trip delay coverage reimburses you for extra expenses during a delay, like having to pay for an extra night at a hotel or for meals while you wait in the airport.
Trip interruption coverage pays out if you have to cut your trip short—for example if you have to return home because of an injury. A travel insurance plan might reimburse 150% (or other percentage) of your unused trip costs if you have to return home for a reason listed in the policy.
Baggage benefits usually include coverage for lost, damaged and delayed baggage.
“The No. 1 covered reason for cancellation and interruption is an unforeseen illness, injury or death of the insured, a traveling companion or a non-traveling family member,” says Walch.
She also recommends that cruisers consider “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) coverage, an optional upgrade on some travel insurance plans. If all eligibility requirements are met, “cancel for any reason” coverage will reimburse 50% or 75% of your prepaid, non-refundable trip cost if you want to back out of your cruise for any reason, such as fear of Covid or just fear of travel, which wouldn’t be covered under standard trip cancellation reasons.
To use CFAR coverage you must cancel at least two days before departure.
Considering Travel Insurance Even If Not Required
Even if your cruise line doesn’t require travel insurance, should you consider buying a policy?
As ships are starting to ease back into sailing again, you still may be a bit worried about booking a cruise. That’s where a travel insurance policy helps.
“Travel insurance can help to alleviate some of the financial burdens if you must cancel,” says Walch.
“Comprehensive travel insurance policies can also help with additional expenses to catch up with the boat in the event weather delays your flights for a set number of hours and you miss your cruise departure.”
Travel medical coverage is certainly a reason to buy travel insurance even if your cruise doesn’t require it.
Lisa Conway, chief underwriting officer for battleface, a travel insurance company, says to always ensure that the travel medical expenses amount covers what is required by the cruise line.
In addition, the travel landscape is shifting and some destinations may require insurance. “Some destinations might require you to show proof of travel insurance upon entry,” says Conway.
“In the case of battleface, we cover $500,000 per insured, and for emergency evacuation and repatriation of remains benefits, up to $500,000, in the event the you, or your traveling companion, requires medical treatment, quarantine, or emergency evacuation due to Covid-related sickness while on the trip,” she says.
Covid Coverage Has Been Expanding
According to Walch at InsureMyTrip, most travel insurance companies have adjusted or expanded their interpretation of coverage when it comes to considering Covid-19 like any other illness that’s covered.
“This can include trip cancellation, trip interruption and emergency medical benefits if you contract the virus and either can’t travel or must seek medical attention during your trip,” she says.
Conway says the medical coverage to choose mostly depends on your exact needs, destination, length of trip and activities while traveling. “In general, a $500,000 limit is sufficient,” she says.
How to Make Sure Your Travel Insurance Covers Covid-19
Conway says the best way to understand the scope of your policy is to ask your travel insurance company or agent. “Policies may be complex to understand, and Covid-19 related coverage may be included in an option that does not call it by this name,” she says.
“If you feel uncertain, get someone on the phone to walk you through the policy to be sure it covers everything you need. Too many travelers were at a loss last year so it’s better to be sure than sorry.”