Whenever you’re planning any trip, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have adequate travel insurance, and this still holds true for river cruises. But there’s more than meets the eye to this minefield of a topic, including some important differences in coverage that even experienced travellers may miss.
The key difference lies in having both medical and trip cancellation/interruption insurance.
Medical Insurance is intended to cover anything that may medically happen to you while abroad, including doctor visits, prescriptions or even hospitalization. While plans and providers available are too numerous and varied to list here, it is important to recognize one thing: These plans will only cover you in the event of an illness or medical incident that is stated in the coverage. Pre-existing conditions are rarely covered, so it pays to read all the fine print. It is also crucial to carry the contact number for your plan with you, as you will need to call your provider before any hospital stay or doctor’s visits are billed.
Medical insurance is fairly straightforward, but by far the bigger mystery for many travellers is the debate about whether to purchase trip cancellation/interruption insurance.
To start with, it’s expensive. In fact, most plans are based on a sliding scale that is dependent on the total cost of your trip. The more expensive your vacation, the more this insurance will cost you.
In a nutshell, trip interruption and cancellation insurance is designed to cover you for incidents beyond your control that occur before you have left home, or while you are on your vacation.
Some examples: The volcanic eruption in Iceland in 2009 grounded thousands of travellers for days. While airlines were generally excellent about letting guests rebook without penalty, the incident technically did not affect cruise lines or other methods of travel, meaning that if you missed your cruise, you were out of luck. You lost the voyage, and the money associated with it.
But with trip cancellation and interruption insurance, you would have been able to get some — or all — of that investment back because it was a situation beyond your control.
Ditto if, say, a family member became ill and you had to cut your trip short. Your cancellation/interruption insurance would cover the costs of booking new flights home, and can reimburse for any clothing, food or hotel expenses incurred as a result.
While every traveler should consider purchasing medical insurance (and indeed, some countries require proof of insurance in order to enter), deciding whether to purchase cancellation and interruption insurance is dependent on personal situations, and the likelihood of your trip itself being disrupted.
Do you have an ill family member at home, or foresee a chance you might have to pull out of a trip? It’s definitely worth it in this case, and almost essential if your travels are taking you to an area of the world where returning unexpectedly could be a costly and time-consuming endeavour.
In the end, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. Don’t roll the dice when it comes to insurance; you could end up on the losing end.