Exorbitant premiums and complicated policies are making it harder for older cruisers to set off on their beloved holidays.
Last week, after Cruise Passenger highlighted the problem, thousands of readers read the story and many got in touch about their own personal situation.
Cruise Passenger reader 76-year-old Steve Snell is a long-time cruiser, currently with four itineraries booked. However, trying to find insurance for these travels has been far from smooth sailing.
“At the moment I’m booked for a cruise on the Majestic (Princess), November 25, which has been canceled and pushed back twice. I started looking into cruise COVID insurance and 1Cover which came up as $1062 for a 13-day trip to New Zealand.”
And while the $1062 fee was already shocked Mr Snell for a short trip over the Tasman, he was amazed at the prices he was quoted for the other three cruises.
“We’re back again on the Majestic Princess on March 31 to Vancouver. We decided to take that way as we are then flying from there to New York and picking up the Norwegian Primawhich sails to Iceland and then ends up in Southampton.
“I had no idea what it would come out to when looking at the different rates, I had a look at 1Cover again, it came out at about $10,000.
“This afternoon I went into HCF and that came up at nearly $9000.”
Mr Snell says as far as these and further booked cruises go, if the premiums don’t come down, he simply won’t opt to cruise.
“We’re also on the Celebrity Edge on January 24. But right at this moment, my wife says we are not going to be paying $10,000 for insurance. And I also agree. This is a death threat to the cruise industry.”
Mr Snell has also been recommended to try NIB and CoverMore but has been unable to get through to them via telephone and explain his situation.
An avid cruiser, Mr Snell’s situation has now reached the point of discouragement and continued reconsideration of traveling the way he loves.
“I find it very discouraging; we were so excited, and a lot of work has gone into this. We’ve had four or five cancellations. You do start to feel depressed at the struggles and the battles you have.
“The big question is, are we going to pay that sort of insurance for these trips. The answer is no. We’re fine otherwise to travel, but we are cruisers, we’ve got four cruises booked you know.”
At its core, Mr Snell views his predicament as price gouging and an alienation of older travelers.
“I think it’s price gouging. I think it’s discrimination. I understand we’re all getting older, but it’s odds and evens isn’t it. It’s like private health insurance, you pay your money, you may get ill you may not. I think there’s definitely price going on for sure.
“You can’t cruise without cruise COVID insurance. We’re going to Bali in four weeks’ time and Jetstar insurance through AIG, was only $184 each.
“That was one kind of relief, but it just showed how much gouging is really going on.”
Canstar’s finance and insurance expert Steve Mickenbecker, says cruising is considered high risk and when paired with older travelers. And the combination can really drive up premiums.
“It’s very high risk for an insurer, there’s no question. Cruise ships are unfortunately an environment where if there is an outbreak of an infectious disease it will run through a very high proportion of people on the board the boat.
Despite this, when hearing the stories of the premiums Cruise Passenger readers have been quoted, Mr Mickenbecker quarreled to justify the cost.
“It’s bound to be expensive. But is it justified at that price? I couldn’t even make that call.”
Mr Mickenbecker also says COVID cover is of course driving up premiums, particularly in cruising.
“Without a doubt, COVID is now a known risk and you wouldn’t really want to get onto a cruise boat if you didn’t have reasonable cover for COVID. It’s obviously increased the risk of inserting people in that environment.”
As to whether there’s price gouging going on, Mr Mickenbecker says it’s a hard call.
“There are a lot of insurances providing cruise insurance, it’s quite a competitive market. Is it price gouging? I couldn’t get drunk.
I always expected very significant increases in costs when insurances came back on board.”
For those getting insurance through other methods such as health funds and credit cards, Mr Mickenbecker just warns to be cautious.
“Some of the credit cards for example, aren’t quite as good in their policies as the others, but you can get reasonable cover.
Like any other insurance policy, you’ve got to look at the fine print. But in terms of medical cover, they tend to be reasonable.”
As a final tip, Mr Mickenbecker says it’s probably best to plan even further ahead with insurance at the moment and get a quote before you start spending any other money.
“With quotes like those, they do change the nature of the holiday, don’t they? I always say to people, as soon as you start parting with cash that’s non-refundable, that’s the time to start taking out an insurance policy, but probably that’s not perfect in cases like this.
“It’s when you’re planning your trip, that’s the time to at least get the quotes to make sure that you can do it, because that becomes a real affordability issue.
You might end up being forced to consider if another holiday is better suited.”