There is no law – or any other rule or regulation – that says you have to have cruise insurance. But if you are planning to set sail for a relaxing life on the ocean wave for weeks or even months at a time, it certainly makes a great deal of sense.
Travel insurance is “essential” suggests the Citizens’ Advice Bureau – and for reasons that apply every bit as much if your travel involves going on a cruise. The cover may offer financial protection against a number of setbacks, including:
- medical emergencies;
- public liability cover – in the event of your causing injury or damage to the property of someone else;
- cancellation or curtailment of your cruise for reasons beyond your control;
- missed sailings or connecting travel caused by delays beyond your control;
- stolen, lost or damaged baggage and personal possessions, including passports, credit cards and cash.
Of all these risks, the importance of cover against your own injury or other medical emergency merits particular mention.
When you are away at sea, far from the nearest port of call, any unexpected health issue or emergency is likely to be especially critical. Modern cruise ships have reasonably well equipped sick bays for an immediate response to your medical needs, but limited space means that facilities are of course going to be considerably more restricted than any land-based hospital.
There is always the risk, therefore, that your condition might necessitate your being airlifted from the ship by helicopter and flown to the nearest medical facility ashore. Thereafter, arrangements may need to be made for you to be accompanied by a relative and also be repatriated back to the UK.
All of these risks may be covered by a specialist cruise insurance provider – such as Bengo Travel and others – with policies that meet your need for on-board treatment, airlifting if that is required, a relative by your bedside and repatriation to the UK.
Pre-existing medical conditions
Although specialist insurers such as this may extend cover to cruise passengers of any age and for any length of voyage – including round the world sailings, for example – it is vital that you disclose any pre-existing medical condition at the time of arranging the insurance cover.
Any pre-existing illness or condition is considered a “material fact” by an insurer. That is to say, that such information is likely to affect the manner and extent to which risk is assessed.
When completing the medical questionnaire, therefore, it is important to disclose any facts about pre-existing medical illnesses and conditions. If you are in any doubt about those which need to be declared, it is equally important that you ask the insurer for clarification at the very beginning.
If it later emerges that you have been less than honest or accurate in the way you have described your state of health and the existing of any issues you may already have, the insurer may be entitled to dismiss any claim you make.
A full and honest declaration, in other words, is essential to the protection offered by your cruise insurance policy.
Further reading: Guide to Cruise Insurance.