Once upon a time, there was a general consensus that cruise ships were for retirees. Now thanks to things such as last minute travel deals, this is certainly no longer the case as Australians of all ages are getting on board with the growing cruise ship boom. There’s definitely something to be said for a floating hotel that takes you to multiple destinations – reducing the need for a careful logistic strategy and, of course, the packing and unpacking.
Australian cruise passenger numbers have been steadily increasing year on year since 2002. Between 2015 and 2016, the Cruise Lines International Association reported a 21 per cent increase in the number of Australians on cruises, with more than 1,280,000 individuals taking a cruise in the 12-month period. While most of these travellers would have purchased travel insurance  in some form, you might be surprised by how few of them read the policy wording.
Read on to find out what these people are getting wrong, and how to make sure you’re properly covered on your next cruise.
Attitudes towards travel insurance
There is an overwhelming lack of understanding in Australia about what will happen if you required medical attention while at sea, according to the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA ). This data comes from a recently commissioned survey by smartraveller.gov.au , and the results aren’t promising. The survey found that:
- 53 per cent of cruise ship travellers believed that they could rely on the Australian Government to shoulder the costs of evacuation in extreme cases.
- All respondents aged 18-24 believed cruise cover was standard in travel insurance.
- More than one-third believed travel insurance wasn’t necessary due to doctors on board.
- Almost half claimed they were unsure whether they were covered for a cruise or the destination countries.
These results follow a previous study by the ICA in late 2016 which also highlighted that many Australians need to take a closer look at their travel insurance. In the 2016 study :
- 27 per cent were unsure which health expenses would be covered by their insurance;
- 40 per cent were unsure if they were covered for cancelled flights or lost passports; and
- 65 per cent were unsure whether or not they were covered for natural disasters.
These findings suggest that there may be a lot of Australians travelling without adequate coverage or perhaps worse – with an insurance policy they don’t know the specifics of. The truth is, cruise coverage is not automatically built into every travel insurance policy. The government will not shoulder the cost of an emergency evacuation. While there are doctors on board most cruise ships, they are largely registered outside of Australia and thus, your Medicare card is no good to them. Making assumptions is particularly dangerous in this context, as a small run of bad luck could end up costing you thousands.
Always read your Product Disclosure Statement
This is why it’s hugely important to understand the policy you buy. A study from Quantum Market Research in 2016  showed that 8 per cent of Australian travellers in the last 12 months were uninsured. Jayson Westbury of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents told The Sydney Morning Herald that most of these were people under 30, stating that “young people tend to buy travel insurance based on price”, and suggesting that many didn’t even read their policies.
The key to being properly covered by your travel insurance policy is to look not just at where you’re going, but at what you’ll be doing when you get there. If you’re going on a cruise you should look for a policy that provides cover for cruise travel. This lets you enjoy your holiday for what it is – a well-deserved break, a cultural extravaganza, or perhaps the adventure of a lifetime.
Through Beyond Bank, you can purchase a Cruise Pack with your travel insurance policy. The Cruise Pack includes:
- Medical cover while cruising
- Emergency dental expenses
- Evacuation cover – ship to shore
- Cabin confinement
- Pre-paid shore excursion cancellation
- Formal cruise attire lost or damaged
- Formal cruise attire delayed
- Marine rescue diversion
Please refer to the PDS which sets out the standard terms, conditions, limits and exclusions of the cover.
Beyond Bank Australia Ltd ABN 15 087 651 143 AFSL/Australian Credit License 237 856 arranges this insurance as agent for AWP Australia Pty Ltd ABN 52 097 227 177 AFSL No. 245631 trading as Allianz Global Assistance (AWP). AWP issues and manages travel insurance as agent for the insurer Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL No. 234708. We do not provide advice on this insurance based on any consideration of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Policy terms, conditions, limits, exclusions and underwriting criteria apply and are set out in the Product Disclosure Statement  (PDS) available from the Beyond Bank Australia website. You should read and consider the PDS before applying for this insurance. If you purchase this insurance, we will receive a commission that is a percentage of the premium. Ask us for more details before we provide you with any services.