Philip Perrey took a cruise with his family to Mexico in November, but the travel insurance they purchased to protect their trip turned out to be anything but a vacation.
A few months before the trip, he received a refund from Celebrity Cruises after the insurance he had purchased for him and his wife, Lindsey, through the line was mistakenly canceled.
He purchased a new policy through a separate provider, which came to the rescue when his flight to Miami was delayed and he had to rebook with another airline, reimbursing him for part 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 get his in-laws – who had joined him, his wife and parents on the cruise, and also bought insurance through the line – to get reimbursed, he had no such luck. Aon Affinity, which administered the coverage for his in-laws, requested documentation from the airline showing the reason for the delay, Perrey said, which he didn’t know how to get (though his parents were able to be reimbursed without providing that document).
Norovirus cases have increased:Should travelers be concerned?
Protect your family: Find the best life insurance policies for 2023
Is travel insurance worth it?:What you need to know before taking your next trip
“It left a really bad taste in my mouth about that policy,” said Perrey, a St. Louis-based minister. Charles, Missouri. “We love Celebrity, we will continue to travel (with) Celebrity … but I’m not buying their insurance.”
While purchasing travel insurance through a cruise line may be convenient, experts say the coverage may not be as comprehensive as plans passengers can purchase separately through third-party providers, and they may want to 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 purchases,” a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean Group, the line’s parent company, said in an email. The company “does not serve the travel protection program,” the spokesman added, and referred questions about Celebrity’s coverage to Aon.
Aon did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s questions about Perrey’s experience.
Should passengers purchase travel insurance through a cruise line?
When you book a cruise, purchasing travel insurance can be as simple as checking a box during checkout. “That’s why it’s 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 usually work with third-party insurers for the policies they offer.)
She said travel companies may also use “scare tactics” to encourage these purchases. “They’ll say, ‘Are you sure you want to risk X amount of dollars?’
But these policies may not provide the kind of protection customers hope for.
Morrow said travelers should first ask themselves whether they want cash or credit. “A lot of cruise line insurance, it’s not (that) you get a refund. It’s (that) you get cruise credit for a future cruise,” she said.
Sick on board:More than 300 people get sick on Ruby Princess cruise ship, CDC says
What should travelers do with all these cruise credits?:Here’s what you need to know
These policies can also be “much thinner” than what travelers can buy on their own. If passengers have to cancel their trip, for example, insurance may cover fewer reasons, according to Morrow.
Maurice Smith, a luxury travel consultant and founder of travel agency Eugene Toriko, echoed this and said third-party policies generally have higher limits for health coverage.
Many health insurance plans do not cover medical expenses incurred at sea or in foreign countries, Dr. Joe Scott, senior director of fleet medical operations at cruise line operator Carnival Corp. He said at the time that he was “not aware” of any cruise line accepting insurance at its medical facilities and highly recommended passengers purchase travel insurance, which he said would be more likely to cover those bills. .
The story continues below.
How much does cruise insurance cost?
Fees for insurance purchased through a cruise line tend to be a percentage of the cost of the trip, Morrow said. But the price of policies that travelers buy on their own can be based on a number of additional variables, including age and even destination.
“There are so many more factors that go into calculating the cost that many times you can pay less and get more coverage,” she said.
Smith said browsing beyond the cruise line’s offerings can help travelers find deals on insurance. “If you shop around, sometimes you can’t find a better rate,” he said. The value of a particular policy also depends on the type of coverage a traveler wants.
Morrow also noted that cruise lines, like airlines or hotels, usually offer a certain amount of protection even without passengers purchasing insurance, such as in the form of refunds or credit in the event of cancellation. “And then that next level is what you’re buying to extend that coverage or get better coverage or have more grounds or whatever,” she said.
How to find cruise insurance
Smith advised travelers to weigh the pros and cons of policies offered through cruise lines versus those they can purchase through a third party. Details of coverage can be found on the cruise line and insurance provider websites, he said.
Travelers can also compare options through sites such as InsureMyTrip or Squaremouth. Many insurance providers also have customer service agents that travelers speak with, Morrow added.
“It seems pretty simple on the surface … but it really depends on whatever trip you’re doing and the things you’re worried about, and whether or not you want to have some kind of peace of mind,” Morrow said.
Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leave a Reply