The Only Way To Cruise

The Only Way To Cruise

Ramzi A. Ghurani shares his thoughts on insurance in relation to cruises – why it’s prudent, its relevance to holidaymakers and the responsibility of the industry to raise awareness of its requirement.

Over the years, the travel industry has grown from strength to strength, constantly offering new and improved travel solutions to an audience focused on creating holiday experiences that top the charts when it comes to value, enjoyment and safety. In recent times, cruise travel has emerged as a favorite with holiday-makers around the world, keen on enjoying clear blue skies and the calming sound of waves as they sail along in a beautifully designed luxury cruise-liner, loaded with spectacular activities, five-star service and more. They believe in holidaying differently, and experiencing travel destinations in a more unique style.

In the UK the total cruise market is worth approximately AED3.5billion (GBP626million) in premium where 75 percent of the value is in annual multi-trip policies. Cruise liners tourism is valued annually at AED145.4billion (USD39.6billion). Insurance specifically for cruise liner travellers represents 21 percent where the average revenue/person is AED6353. The average single trip insurance is AED50 to AED100 depending on age and extension and average annual multi-trip insurance is approximately AED500-700.

At a time when travellers prefer to be well informed and prepared for any situation, it is imperative to be aware of the ins and outs of cruise travel, determine the nature of unfavourable (and expensive) situations that may arise, and fully understand the benefits of a good cruise travel insurance plan. After all, lost baggage may well be the least of the worries for a seafaring holidaymaker.

Growing In Popularity

Regarded as the ultimate experience, cruise liners offer unique holiday options where the journey itself, is often more enjoyable than the destination. With the holiday season just around the corner, cruises at this time of year are exceedingly popular and offer a plethora of seasonal activities for the entire family. Luxury liners with entertainment options ranging from stage shows and musicals, to ice-rinks, multiple pools, the best of dining options, spas, shops, libraries, movies and much more, are the perfect end-of-year break for families and millennial alike.

As is usually the case with holidays, people book cruises based on their own preferences and conveniences, rarely bothering to check weather forecasts around the global cruise market.

Cruise Travel Insurance

Travellers who opt for insurance generally do so because they know better and have dealt with unfortunate situations in the past. While it’s easily brushed off saying, ‘they worry too much’, the newer generation of tourists prefer to adopt a wiser, almost sage-like approach to travel, and are keen to learn from the experiences of others.

At the time of booking cruise trips, people are often unsure whether they really require insurance or if it’s just a moneymaking gimmick on the part of a travel agent. While it isn’t a mandatory requirement for every holidaymaker to have a valid travel insurance policy, it’s definitely beneficial and offers tremendous peace of mind. That said, it pays to do some research on the kind of travel insurance plan that works best. Cruise travel insurance not only provides travellers with medical cover for unforeseen circumstances that may occur during travel, like illness, injury and medical evacuation, but also safeguards against several other situations, including those concerning expensive luggage like laptops and mobile phones, as well as important business documents. Insurance costs are generally affordable and in the interest of a safe and peaceful trip, are definitely worth considering.

Like all insurance plans, it’s important to be aware that there are specific exclusions and pre-existing conditions that are not covered for cruise travel insurance as well, and a comprehensive list of the same is easily available with any insurance provider or broker. A major plus point with cruise travel insurance is that it’s easy to obtain and does not involve a tedious process. Policies can be taken with either specific validities or an annual basis, allowing people to plan holidays in advance; ensuring things are adequately taken care off.

How Much Coverage?

Depending on the type of cruise travel insurance plan chosen, it includes day trips, excursions and multiple destinations too. The traveller also need not worry if a cruise liner is not listed with an insurance company, several insurance providers ensure that a separate coverage plan is provided in such cases.

It’s interesting to know that while travellers require their own insurance plans, cruise liners also insure themselves, and receive a certain amount of coverage for passengers and employees as well. Ensuring the vessel that is properly insured further adds to the improved risk management process the cruise liner has gone through, and an inspection along with a quality check is done on a yearly basis.

In The Region

Purchasing cruise travel insurance isn’t something commonly done in the UAE; it is because people aren’t necessarily aware that this kind of product is available in the market. From a macro point of view, insurance penetration in the Middle East is generally low, and it is up to the industry to educate and create an awareness of its benefits to the society. The mind-set of travellers can be changed when they realise the ease with which they can avail cruise travel insurance and how extremely beneficial it is.

In the UAE where most working individuals already have a company-provided insurance cover, it pays to fully understand the kind of insurance plan they may already hold. In many cases, travellers are already partially covered and may only need to purchase additional elements as per their cruise travel plan.

Some important factors to consider when offering cruise travel insurance are:

  • Trip cancellation & personal accident.
  • Expensive belongings.
  • Medical expenses in case of any emergency.
  • Insurance company providing cover.
  • Claims procedures.

It’s important to be aware that even with full existing medical coverage, cruise insurance cover is required as it not only covers medical expenses, but also covers cash in hand, baggage, repatriation of mortal remains, personal liability, expensive items and personal accident insurance as well. In some cases, existing policies specifically mention that there are exclusions in place when it comes to cruise trips, so it pays to be fully aware of all elements.

In fact, insurance companies are even figuring in the terrorism risk in their policies but it can be taken based on an extra premium and subject to terms and conditions such as: geographical scope for terrorism extension which may not be applicable to certain countries and is dependent on the policy of the insurance company. Some countries/areas have restrictions in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gaza and West Bank, Ivory Coast, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, among others, which have been declared by the United Nations.

It is important to note what has happened in France in November would in fact be covered as terrorism risk if the option is chosen.

An all-inclusive travel insurance plan covers just about everything that a traveller could be concerned with, from medical expenses, trip cancellation, missed connecting flights, lost luggage, personal liability, personal accident, to other losses incurred while traveling, either internationally or within one’s own country.

At the end of day, travel insurance is a must because everyone deserves a good, stress-free holiday.

ramzi ghurani managing partner at petra insurance brokers uae


Managing Partner

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