Philip Perrey took his family on a cruise to Mexico in November, but navigating the travel insurance they had to protect their trip proved to be anything but a holiday.
A few months before the trip, he received a refund from Celebrity Cruises after the insurance he had taken out for him and his wife Lindsey on the line was accidentally canceled.
He bought a new policy through a separate provider, which came in handy when his flight to Miami was delayed and he had to rebook on another airline, with a partial refund of the original fare. “It just wasn’t the way you want to start a cruise vacation,” Perrey, 45, told USA TODAY.
But when he tried to help his in-laws – who had joined him, his wife and parents on the cruise and also bought insurance through the line – to get a refund, he had no such luck. Aon Affinity, who administered coverage for his in-laws, asked the airline for documentation explaining the reason for the delay, Perrey said, which he didn’t know how to get (although his parents were able to get a refund without that document to submit).
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“This policy left a really bad taste in my mouth,” said Perrey, a minister in St. Charles, Missouri. “We love Celebrity, we’ll keep driving (with) Celebrity … but I’m not buying her insurance.”
While purchasing travel insurance through a cruise line can be convenient, experts say coverage may not be as comprehensive as plans passengers can purchase separately through third-party providers, and they should think twice about the type of policy they choose.
“Royal Caribbean Group guests can purchase Travel Protection through our trusted partners to protect their vacation purchase,” a spokesman for Royal Caribbean Group, the line’s parent company, said in an email. The company “does not operate the travel protection program,” the spokesman added, directing inquiries to Aon about celebrity coverage.
Aon didn’t immediately answer USA TODAY’s questions about Perrey’s experiences.
Should passengers purchase travel insurance through a cruise line?
When booking a cruise, purchasing travel insurance can be as simple as ticking a box during the checkout process. “That’s why it’s been so successful,” said Suzanne Morrow, senior vice president of InsureMyTrip. “Because it’s easy and you don’t have to think about it.” (Cruise lines typically work with third-party insurers for the policies they offer.)
She said travel companies may also use “fear tactics” to incentivize these purchases. “You’ll write, ‘Are you sure you want to risk X dollars?'”
But these policies may not provide the protection customers are hoping for.
Morrow said travelers should first ask themselves if they want cash or credit. “Many cruise ship insurance companies don’t give you a refund. It’s (that) you get cruise credit toward a future cruise,” she said.
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These policies can also be “much thinner” than those that travelers can buy themselves. For example, if passengers have to cancel their trip, Morrow says insurance may cover fewer reasons.
Maurice Smith, a luxury travel consultant and founder of travel agency Eugene Toriko, echoed this, saying that third-party policies generally have higher health insurance limits.
Many health insurance plans don’t cover medical expenses incurred at sea or abroad, said Dr. Joe Scott, senior director of fleet medical operations at cruise line Carnival Corporation, told USA TODAY in February. He said at the time that he was “not aware of any cruise line” that would accept insurance at their medical facilities and would strongly advise passengers to purchase travel insurance, which would be more likely to cover those bills.
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How much does cruise insurance cost?
Insurance prices purchased through a cruise line are typically a percentage of the cost of the trip, Morrow said. But policies that travelers buy themselves can be priced based on a number of additional variables, including age and even destination.
“There are so many other factors that go into calculating the cost that you can often pay less and get more coverage,” she said.
Smith said browsing past the cruise line’s listings can help travelers find insurance deals. “Sometimes if you look around you can’t find a better price,” he said. The value of a particular policy also depends on the type of coverage a traveler desires.
Morrow also noted that cruise lines, like airlines or hotels, usually offer some protection even without purchasing insurance, e.g. B. in the form of refunds or credits in the event of cancellation. “And then you buy that next level to expand that coverage or get better coverage or to have more reasons or whatever,” she said.
How to find cruise insurance
Smith advised travelers to weigh the pros and cons of policies offered by cruise lines versus those they can purchase through third parties. Coverage details can be found on cruise line and insurance provider websites, he said.
Travelers can also compare options through sites like InsureMyTrip or Squaremouth. Many insurance providers also have customer service representatives that travelers speak to, Morrow added.
“It sounds simple enough on the surface … but it really comes down to each journey you take and the things you’re worried about and whether or not you want some kind of peace of mind,” Morgen said.
Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville. You can reach him at [email protected].