Cruising on the High Seas and Insurance Protection When Traveling

February 27, 2012

In the wake of the Costa Concordia crash and pending lawsuits, Frank N. Darras says that we must ask ourselves, what we can do to protect ourselves if a similar event happened to us while on vacation.

The horrifying wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise ship left twenty-five people dead and seven remain missing and are presumed dead. Many more were injured in their scramble to get to safety and survivors lost hundreds of dollars in personal belongings. "In the wake of the crash, we must ask ourselves, what we can do to protect ourselves if a similar event happened to us while on vacation," says Frank N. Darras, America's top insurance lawyer.

When booking a cruise, call or look online at the contract you are required to sign before you depart. Most contracts contain clauses that impact and restrict, the passenger's ability to recover damages. For example, contracts may set a limit on the amount of damages you may recover, even if the cruise line operator was negligent. Unfortunately, signing this contract is a requirement if you want to sail on the open water.

Here are simple steps to follow :

  • Do not bring valuables onto the ship that you cannot carry with you at all times. Invest in a small digital camera or a disposable one, rather than bringing your expensive camera.
  • Make sure you are insured against any risks. See what your existing insurance policies will cover on vacation, especially if you are traveling outside the United States. Consider buying travel insurance to cover any additional costs.
  • If an accident does occur, seek legal counsel immediately upon returning home. Most clauses have a set unfavorable time limits on when you can file a claim or where you can sue the cruise line.

"You should also contact your medical insurance company and ask them specific questions about your coverage on the high seas," says Darras. "Find out if they will cover emergency expenses, such as returning you to the United States if you are seriously injured or gravely ill."

Always ask if you're covered on a foreign-flagged vessel. This is very important since most cruise ships, even those cruising U.S. waters, are not flagged in the U.S. If your insurance doesn't cover you on the ship, you may elect to purchase Travel Medical Insurance.

"Travel Medical policies focus only on medical coverage and do not cover any other travel expenses. The premium you pay for the insurance takes into account the length of the trip, the age of the traveler, and the amount of coverage. Be sure to ask the Traveler Medical Insurance carrier about the limitations and exclusions of the policy including pre-existing conditions, medical evacuation and where they will take you to in the event of an emergency (your choice or theirs)", says Darras.

The Costa Concordia accident is a lesson to us all. Making sure you're protected before leaving port will allow you to relax on your cruise and avoid disaster if an accident does occur.