CRUISING: Many cruise travellers mistakenly believe Medicare or their private health insurer will cover any medical expenses.
CRUISING: Many cruise travellers mistakenly believe Medicare or their private health insurer will cover any medical expenses. ThinkStock

Avoid stormy seas with shipboard insurance

BY 2020 close to two million Australians will be packing for a cruising holiday, but they won't necessarily have with them the correct travel insurance.

Recent research proves almost half of those holiday makers won't be taking out travel insurance or won't take out the correct type to cover them when on a cruise ship and at their destinations.

Also revealed was that during the time on board, many travellers mistakenly believe Medicare or their private health insurer will cover any medical expenses.

"Nearly a third incorrectly assumed the Federal Government would pay if they needed to be medically evacuated from a cruise ship," the Quantum Market Research's Understand Insurance and smartraveller.gov.au survey researchers reported.

The researchers found 70% of these cruise travellers were exposing themselves to significant risk because they believed there was less chance of losing their luggage than on a flight, or that their voyage would be cancelled or delayed.

Other key findings of the survey of cruise travellers were -

  • 37% of those aged 65 and over bought travel insurance policies that might not adequately cover them.
  • 65-year-olds and over had a better than average understanding of travel insurance, but a large proportion thought it covered cruises as standard, leading to under-insurance or non-insurance.
  • More than a third of them believed travel insurance was less important for cruises than other overseas holidays because cruise ships have doctor to treat passengers if they get sick

Understand Insurance spokesman Campbell Fuller said, "Unfortunately, 53% of cruise ship passengers and cruise intenders in the next two years believe they can rely on medical care on board their ship, and that if they fall critically ill the Australian Government will pay for their care and their evacuation back home.

"That is not the case. Medical treatment, hospital stays and medical evacuations back home can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"Too often, Australia's consular officials in foreign ports have to help ill or injured passengers who are either not insured or have not bought the right insurance cover.

"When cruise passengers book their trip, they should make sure they buy travel insurance that covers them for their cruise, and for all destinations they intend to go.

"Travellers who have pre-existing medical conditions should also let their insurer know beforehand," he added.

Did you know:

  • A day in an international hospital can cost $10,000 and payment is often required to be paid prior to admission.
  • Medical evacuation to Australia from abroad can cost $100,000.

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