All About the Protection You CAN’T Buy At a Gas Station
Vacation protection gets a bad rap sometimes, and I understand why.
When planning a vacation, especially through a cruise line, it can seem like you’re being nickel and dimed at every corner to buy extras, add-ons, excursions, and other things you thought were included but, just kidding, they’re actually not. So is vacation protection just another sales gimmick? We’re already paying so much for the rest of the trip. Do I really need this too?
Should you get vacation protection?
If you can swing it financially and aren’t paying for any other type of travel insurance already, YES you need it.
Trip insurance, or “vacation protection” as most cruise lines call it, protects the financial investments you’ve made into the trip should an inconvenience or emergency arise while you are traveling. Coverage varies by company but typically most plans cover trip cancellation, delays in your trip, lost luggage, medical coverage, and emergency evacuation.
I’m preaching to a choir of mamas who could sing this song from the hills, but unfortunately, life has a way of throwing us the unexpected when we least expect it, and when we least want it.
Injury or illness? Passing of a family member? Surprise hurricane? Surprise pregnancy? You can cancel and get back 100% of what you paid for the trip, most of the time in cash.
Lost luggage? Suitcase stolen while you were busy wrangling the littles? You’ll get up to $1500 to replace lost items and additional reimbursement if your bags are delayed by more than 24 hours and you have to buy replacement items in the meantime. Horrendous stomach flu onboard the ship and have to be taken to a hospital once you’re in port? You’ll get up to $10,000 in medical coverage. God forbid something awful happens and you or a family member have to be airlifted to a hospital while you’re floating out in the middle of nowhere, or transported via ambulance on shore, you’ll get $30,000 for emergency medical evacuation*.
Traveling without vacation protection or travel insurance means you risk footing the entire bill for any of the above circumstances, plus the millions of others life could throw your way. On average, you can expect to pay about 10-15% of your cruise fare (before taxes, fees, and other expenses) per person for vacation protection. So if your base cruise fare is $400 per person, you would likely pay anywhere from $40-$60 per person to add on vacation protection.
Each cruise line’s plan is underwritten by a different, larger insurance company, so be sure to check your specific cruise line for exact coverage details and prices. Before purchasing any additional vacation protection or trip insurance, first check to make sure you don’t already have coverage through your credit card company or medical insurance carrier. Typically your standard medical insurance won’t cover emergencies at sea or in a foreign country, but it’s worth checking out just in case. The most convenient way to purchase vacation protection is through your cruise line, but sometimes independent companies like Allianz (click here) or CSA (click here) can offer slightly lower rates and better protection if you have the time to do the research.
Bottom line: you need some sort of vacation protection coverage, no matter what company it’s through.
I’m speaking from personal experience. I got BURNED without vacation protection. I booked a cruise for my mom’s 60th birthday and I kid you not, seven hours before we were supposed to leave I became violently ill with the stomach flu and couldn’t travel. I didn’t book the vacation protection through my cruise line, which would have only been an extra $60 a person, because I was all like, oh it’s not hurricane season, nothing will get in our way! Well my digestive system had other ideas. We ended up re-booking the cruise for a couple months later but it cost me $650, as opposed to the $120 it would have cost me for the trip insurance that would have covered the cost of the changed itinerary due to my illness. Boo hiss. Never again!
I know you might be sick of extra expenses, and yes, vacation protection is just another one of them. Buy it anyways.
Compared to the amount of money you could lose without it, the cost of purchasing vacation protection is minimal. Traveling without it is taking a larger financial risk than you think.
*Prices are based off of averages from three major cruise lines. Check your specific cruise line for exact coverage details.
If cruising to or anywhere near the Caribbean or Mexico, do not, and I repeat for the love of all things sacred, DO NOT travel during hurricane season without some kind of vacation protection or trip insurance. It never fails that every year, hundreds of angry travelers are up in arms with their cruise line because it’s sailing as planned during a hurricane or tropical storm but out into the middle of the ocean and not into the original ports of call.
Cruise lines have the right to change their itineraries however they see fit, even after you’ve booked. It’s in the cruise agreement you were supposed to have read when you booked. With vacation protection, if things are looking too dicey you can choose to cancel the trip and receive a refund to reschedule. You’re traveling at your own risk already when it’s hurricane season, but without vacation protection your entire financial investment into the trip is at the mercy of Mother Nature, and she can be a real mean lady sometimes. There’s a reason rates are so much lower in August/September/October. Get the insurance.