Q: Hello, Peter. We are considering a cruise on Holland America. When asking about travel insurance, theirs seemed high. Also, their airfare seemed high. I would like to schedule my own flight, but would my cruise be insured this way? What is a good company to insure with?
–Elizabeth, Hot Springs, Ark.
A: I always advise travelers not to buy insurance from their tour operators (or cruise companies), because not only are you out of luck if the company goes out of business, but the insurance is often designed to protect the company more than the traveler. I’m not saying this is necessarily the case with Holland America, but I’ve seen quite a few cases in which insurance sold by tour companies offers nothing more than a credit for a future trip in the event that you have to cancel.
So go to Insure My Trip, and shop around. All-purpose policies should cover the various needs you have or could have as a traveler, including flight, cruise, medical care, and loss or theft of valuables. But as always, the devil is in the details.
Make sure you read the actual policy document (not just the summary on the Web site), particularly as the policy relates to the cruise portion. There may be language that will work against you if you’re not careful. For example, some policies cover you if you decide to call off your cruise because of a hurricane, but only if you buy the insurance before the storm is named. Others will cover you if you cancel because you get sick before the trip, but will not if you withdraw because you’re afraid of getting sick due to, say, a swine-flu epidemic in your destination.
It’s also worth shopping around to see if you can get a better deal on your flight. The cruise lines often have good deals, since they get bulk discounts from the airlines. However, with the way the airline industry is doing these days, there’s no guarantee that you won’t find a better fare somewhere else. But a word to the wise—book a flight that arrives the day BEFORE your cruise. I’ve heard too many horror stories of people missing their cruises after their flights were delayed or cancelled. The fact is, they had booked their flights too close to the ship’s departure time. Insurance won’t cover you for that.
Join for Just $16 A Year
- Discounts on travel and everyday savings
- Subscription to AARP The Magazine
- Free membership for your spouse or partner