As people book cruise travel, often they’re confronted with a series of options to “add on” products and services to their bookings. Airfare deal sites, hotel sites, and cruise lines themselves may offer travelers the chance to quickly purchase a travel insurance policy along with their bookings — usually, this involves not much more effort than checking a box to accept the insurance and paying the additional fee, which is generally quite low. It seems like a quick and easy way to purchase your insurance, without the hassle of doing research on various policies or having to shop around for coverage.
Of course, as with most things in life, if it seems too easy, it probably is. Buying travel insurance isn’t meant to be a frustrating, convoluted process; but it IS supposed to be a process that involves a little bit of thought and self-evaluation. No one insurance policy is guaranteed to offer the perfect amount of coverage, the right mix of benefits, and the best value for every single passenger on a cruise ship — but that’s what the “add-on” insurance is supposed to do. You’re supposed to believe, when you check that box, that the cruise line or other supplier offering the insurance has somehow evaluated your needs and is going to give you the right kind of travel insurance coverage for your trip. In reality, you’re going to get exactly the same policy every other person who checks that box is going to get — and it may not be right for you at all.
When travel suppliers offer insurance policies as an “add-on,” they usually have one standard type of insurance that is offered to everyone, regardless of specific individual needs. These policies are generally crafted to offer a minimum baseline of coverage at a very low price, which makes them seem appealing to the average traveler who just wants to get his booking completed. They also tend to favor the cruise line or travel supplier by not offering any coverage against financial default, and sometimes having a more narrowly defined set of criteria as to what constitutes a legitimate claim.
“Add-on” policies offered by travel suppliers are also nearly certain to be devoid of some of the more desirable, time-sensitive benefits many travelers look for in an insurance policy; things like Cancel for Any Reason coverage or Pre-Existing Conditions Waivers are rarely going to be included in the “one-size-fits-all” approach to travel insurance. To get those specialized benefits, you would likely have to buy ANOTHER travel insurance policy on top of the standard-issue cruise line policy — one which would certainly offer all the benefits the cruise line is giving you, along with many other potential coverage options that could be very valuable to you. Of course, the only way you’d be able to figure out which types of coverage you might want or need would be to look at all of the choices available — and checking the box doesn’t give you any choices. Only by going to a third-party insurance provider, preferably an unbiased comparison company offering plans from a wide range of providers (like, ahem, maybe InsureMyTrip?), can you see what’s really available to you.
Might the cruise line’s insurance policy be just fine for some travelers? It might. Is there any way to know for sure whether or not you’re one of those travelers? Only if you do your homework. The bottom line is, you need to compare the options that are available out there and know what you want and need before you make any insurance purchase. If you need help, our Customer Care Center is open 365 days a year to offer guidance and answer questions. They’ll even help evaluate a travel insurance policy you purchased from someone else, to see if it’s the best fit for you.