You’ve finally booked your cruise and you should be excited! If you’re a savvy traveler you’re probably wondering if you should protect that investment with cruise insurance. Well, maybe you should, and we have some highly useful information on how a policy works.

Cruise insurance: An overview

Once you’ve finalized plans for your dream vacation, of course, you’re going to hope that everything works out. Unfortunately, reality can turn out different. Dramatic weather may remove the option of sailing in certain parts of the world, or flight delays might impact a trip at the last minute. During a cruise, travelers also become affected by an unexpected injury or illnesses, either of themselves or to a family member. Theft, missed connections during a trip, or weather issues, also affect some cruise passengers.

In all of these cases, a standard cruise insurance policy can help ensure that problems with your trip don’t have a major impact on your wallet. Some policies cover more than others, and costs are relative to the risks assumed by the insurer. At there most basic, policies cover trip cancellations for predetermined reasons, and not just because a traveler has changed their mind. Policies can also cover things like lost or stolen luggage, and trip cancellations for unforeseen circumstances, including evacuations, pregnancy, divorce, or loss of job.

Most policies will also cover medical expenses related to illness or injuries during a trip, and help travelers navigate the differences in domestic vs. non-U.S. medical facilities. Given that a traveler’s medical problems can reach five-figure levels, require new last-minute transportation and accommodations to be made, and be difficult to sort out from another country, additional coverage may be worth the expense.

What cruise insurance doesn’t cover

Cruise insurance policies cover a lot of things, but one thing they don’t cover is a change of heart about the trip. If you’re just not sure that the trip is the right thing to do, or if you think that you ultimately can’t afford it, the policy can’t be used as a fallback if you don’t go. Buying a policy with this reason in mind is generally a bad idea, however, if you really want to risk booking your trip, you may want to look into a “cancel with any reason” addendum to your coverage. For a cost, these additions allow you to get some of your money back regardless of the cause of your cancellation. Keep in mind that most addendums won’t reimburse 100% of your trip if you do need to cancel. Also, read your policy carefully, and be sure you understand everything before you finalize the agreement.

How likely are you to need cruise insurance?

In most cases, there won’t be any problems before or during your trip. However, in today’s current climate, if something DOES happen, the results are likely to be expensive, and, by comparison, the cost of insurance isn’t that much of an additional expense. Weighing out the impact of a problem against the chance of it actually happening and the cost of the policy is the calculation travelers need to make. In most cases, people will decide the insurance is worth the cost.

Some travelers who are considering insurance like to weigh out the specific likelihood of each of the problems they would need to be covered. For example, they might consider how many dependents or sick and elderly family members they have at home, and who might cause them to have to cancel a trip. They also might consider what the weather typically is in a location they’re traveling to, and if it’s likely to disrupt their trip. In a third case, they might consider the connections they’ll be making to travel, and the chances that their connection might be missed.

In any of these situations, there is likely an alternate way travelers can change their plans to minimize the risk. They may set up care plans for what a dependent or relative might need at home. Or they may find a flight that arrives at their port city a day earlier than the cruise, so they can better absorb any delays in their schedule.

Steps to making choices about what kind of insurance to purchase

There are a couple of steps you can take as you determine the details of the insurance policy you need. Firstly, understand your options for policies, what each of them covers, and what they contain. Evaluate policies from a number of different sources, both offered by the cruise lines, and offered by independent travel companies. As a final step, try to understand how your own policies, particularly your health insurance policy, would operate if you needed to use it while on the ship and in another country.

Once you have all of these pieces of information you’ll know what option will work best for you. Then you can make a selection that will bring you peace of mind as the day of your trip gets closer. This way, you can spend more time considering what you’re going to enjoy and the new destinations you’ll explore on your cruise trip of a lifetime.