Coronavirus and Cruise Travel Insurance: Everything You Need to Know


The Coronavirus pandemic has caused widespread chaos within the cruise industry and getting travel insurance will probably never be quite the same. Many people are wondering if their current travel insurance will cover them for Coronavirus related claims and if they’ll be able to get insurance for their next cruise.

I have spent days talking to insurance companies and in this video you’re going to learn everything that you need to know about coronavirus and cruising.

If I Already Have Travel Insurance Will it Cover me For Coronavirus?

If you purchased travel insurance before Coronavirus the majority of travel insurance policies will cover you for Coronavirus related cancellations. There are a couple of things that you need to bear in mind though:

Government Advice May Mean You Can’t Travel

You more than likely can’t travel if the government has a ‘essential only’ travel order. If you do this your travel insurance probably won’t cover you. Some insurers will allow it if your travel is deemed to be essential such as getting yourself home but the reasons for travel being classed as essential are extremely limited and you’d have to have this pre approved with your insurer.

In the UK it is the FCO who issues advice on where it’s safe to travel to abroad, in the US it’s the state department.

A important question to ask your insurer is ‘if the FCO advises against travel to a certain country will be I be covered for cancellation?” The majority of policies do include this but it is worth asking.

The second question to ask is am I covered if there isn’t an FCO order in place but my cruise is cancelled? Many travel insurers are only covering this if the policy has travel disruption cover.

Others Refund Options

It’s worth remembering that if your cruise or flights are cancelled the cruise line/airline will refund you the cruise fare. The travel insurance is usually used for things like delays, missed departures or being forced to stay at your destination for longer than planned.

cruise ship venice

Cash Refunds

All cruise lines should offer you a cash refund for your cruise. There are a couple of cruise lines, and some airlines and hotel brands who have tried to offer only future credit but most have changed their policies to allow cash refunds. Passengers who request a cash refund should be able to get it, at least in the UK anyway. There are rumours that this will be changing but for the moment cash refunds have to be offered if requested.

If you are dealing with a cruise line that isn’t offering a cash refund the first thing to do would be to talk to the cruise line, the second thing to do would be request a charge back if you paid on a credit card and the last resort would be try and get the refund from your travel insurance.

Many people prefer cash refunds instead of credits for a number of reasons, many people need the money at the moment or are worried about the cruise line going bust and leaving them out of pocket.

Travel Insurance Does Run Out

Another thing to bear in mind before travelling is that insurance runs out at a certain date. It can usually be extended but if you were quarantined in a country or injured your travel insurance may run out. Many travel insurers would extend your cover if you are hospitalised but if you are simply stuck in another country for whatever reason you may be left without insurance if your travel insurance does expire and the company you bought it with won’t allow you to extend it. 

If You Don’t Want to Travel

If government guidelines say that you shouldn’t travel but your trip hasn’t been cancelled by the cruise line, your travel insurance should cover you, as long as you bought it pre Coronavirus.

If you want to cancel a cruise further in the future your travel insurance won’t cover you. In this situation though the cruise line may allow you to reschedule your cruise, Royal Caribbean are currently offering cruisers the opportunity to move their cruise a year in the future which does make things much easier.

The majority of cruise lines are offering credit when they cancel cruises but it has to be cancelled by the cruise line not by the passengers. I would strongly recommend playing the waiting game and waiting for the cruise line to cancel your cruise if you suspect it may be cancelled. If you were to cancel it first you’d lose your deposit and would miss out on any future credit offers. Some cruise lines are offering up to 200% onboard credit, so it’s well worth hanging on and waiting for that.

If you did want to cancel the cruise yourself you may as well wait until last minute to give it a greater chance of being cancelled by the cruise line, if you are cancelling you’ll likely lose your deposit anyway so there is nothing to lose.

cruise ship

Can I Cancel my Travel Insurance If I Am Vulnerable?

Some people may be able to cancel and have it covered by travel insurance if they have a characteristic that makes travelling more risky such as being over 70 or having underlying health problems. If you do fall into this category and want to cancel a cruise further in the future I’d first speak to the cruise line, if they don’t let you move the cruise speak to your insurer. You may have to give some form of evidence and the insurer will decide on a case by case basis.

If you are defined as vulnerable but still decide to travel then it’s likely that your travel insurance won’t cover you.

Can I Cancel my Cruise if The Itinerary Has Changed Significantly?

If the cruise has significantly changed the Association of British Travel Agents says that you may be entitled to a refund. It’s always best to speak to the cruise line first then talk to your insurer if you need to.

Can I Get a Travel Insurance Refund?

For many people travelling in the near future is unlikely so many people are asking for travel insurance refunds. If you are definitely not going to be travelling anytime soon it can be a good idea to do this and I personally know people who have received hundreds of dollars back from the travel insurance provider. Axa, Churchill and Direct Line are all offering pro rata refunds and you can usually get refunds for single trips or partial refunds for annual policies.

If you’re not sure if you’ll be travelling it might be worth keeping a hold of your policy. New policies taken out likely won’t have the same level of cover as policies taken out pre covid-19 so you would be losing out on this coverage. 

Getting a New Travel Insurance Policy

When Coronavirus first hit many insurers stopped selling travel insurance all together. 30 of the big travel insurers here in the UK stopped selling travel insurance and it is the same across the world.

Many of them have now come back and are offering travel insurance again but there are still less travel insurance options than there were before. Some insurers have added extra exclusions like Axa Travel Insurance who have excluded Coronavirus cancellation cover.

Money saving expert suggests that if when you renew the travel insurance company tries to remove any coronavirus cover you would be within your rights to go to the financial ombudsman and argue that the firm isn’t following ‘industry practise’.

cruise ships drone

Do New Travel Insurance Policies Cover Coronavirus?

The majority of new policies going forward will still cover you for emergency medical care and the costs associated with getting you home if you do get Coronavirus while abroad. They won’t cover you for travel costs, loss of earnings, hotel stays or anything related to having to quarantine either on a ship or on land.

The only cover your new policy will give you for coronavirus (COVID-19), is emergency medical expenses and repatriation if you catch the virus during your insured trip. – Staysure.

If I Renew an Annual Policy Will it Include Coronavirus Cover?

As Coronavirus is now a ‘known event’ this means that the majority of insurers won’t include it in their new policies. However if you are renewing an annual policy the new policy should still have the cover. The financial ombudsman has confirmed that as long as you had the policy before mid march and you’re renewing with the same insurer you should still have the same level of cover as the original policy.

This could mean that travel insurance prices rise because consumers are less able to change provider.

Cancel For Any Reason Cover

If you are hoping to book a cruise for the future and need travel insurance one thing that you can do is to buy a policy with ‘cancel for any reason’ cover. These can be INCREDIBLY expensive but it may be the only way that you can get cover which covers coronavirus cancellations. It’s not uncommon for these policies to cost 10 % or more of your cruise fare. I personally wouldn’t purchase a policy like this as I’d prefer to take the risk but many people do.

Things to Look Out For in Future Travel Insurance Policies:

There are some things that you should be looking out for when buying travel insurance. You might want to pick a policy with ‘scheduled airline failure insurance’ this means that if the airline goes bust before you fly you’ll be covered. Many airlines are having difficulties at the moment and when an airline goes bust it can be very difficult to get a refund.

Excluding Pandemics

There are a few travel insurance products such as MedJet who currently have exclusions within their policies for covid-19. MedJets terms and conditions state that:

“A member with tuberculosis or other chronic airborne pathogens may not be transported”. They have added this: “Medjet cannot transport a member actively infected with COVID. We can, however, transport for post-infection complications and continued hospitalization.” – source.

These restrictions are expected to be loosened as time goes on.

In Summary:

If you have a travel insurance policy which was taken our before Coronavirus you’ll more than likely be covered for Coronavirus related cancellations and medical care. If you took out a policy after Coronavirus you won’t be able to get insurance to cover cancellations but your policy should still cover you for emergency medical expenses if you did catch Coronavirus while abroad.

The terms and conditions of course vary by travel insurance provider and policy so is it important to check with your specific insurer but I do hope this gives you a rough understanding of what you can reasonably expect.

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Emma Le Teace

Hey! I'm Emma. A cruise blogger, YouTuber and founder of the 'Cruising Isn't Just For Old People' Facebook community and website. You can learn more here: About Me.

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