Viking Cruises Travel Insurance - 2020 Review
In this Viking Cruises trip insurance review, we detail Viking’s Travel Protection Plan coverage and cost versus comprehensive trip insurance options available on the wider market.
Viking Cruises is a leader in luxury river and ocean cruises. Viking also sails expedition ships to remote areas of the world such as the Arctic and Antarctic.
When you book your cruise, they offer travel insurance to protect your non-refundable expenses. The Viking Cruise Travel Protection Plan includes Cancellation, Interruption, Medical Insurance, Medical Evacuation, Baggage Insurance, Travel Delay and several other benefits.
Like many cruise lines, Viking partnered with TripMate, a travel insurance administrator. The policy is underwritten by United States Fire company, a trusted partner of AardvarkCompare.
If you book your Viking cruise through Viking’s website, you have an opportunity to opt-in or opt-out during the checkout process.
If you prefer to shop around, simply opt-out. You have plenty of time to check prices before Viking closes insurance enrollment.
Of course, when you buy a travel insurance plan on the wider marketplace, you can buy travel insurance anytime until the day before departure. However, we recommend buying it early so it includes coverage for Pre-existing Medical Conditions. More about this later.
Our Cruise: Waterways of the Tsars
Our sample cruise is the 13-day Waterways of the Tsars river cruise for two travelers, ages 55 and 60. The trip costs $13,236 without travel insurance.
When shopping for trip insurance, many travelers aren’t sure where to start. We always recommend travelers leaving the US acquire at least:
- $100,000 medical insurance, and
- $250,000 emergency medical evacuation, and
- a Waiver of Pre-existing Medical Conditions.
These levels ensure you’re covered for any medical emergency overseas.
Viking Cruises travel protection costs $1,238 for two travelers, approaching 10% of the trip cost. Since the price of the cruise without Viking’s travel insurance is $13,236, we’d like to see a price of about half that cost.
First, we examine iTravelInsured Travel SE. We chose this plan because it’s the least expensive policy that covers at least $100,000 Medical Insurance, $250,000 Medical Evacuation and includes a Waiver of Pre-existing Medical Condition.
Let’s take a look:
Price and Value
First, you can see that Viking cruise travel insurance ($1,238) costs significantly more than the mid-level iTravelInsured Travel SE ($775). Most worrisome is Viking’s terribly low Medical Evacuation coverage. Viking’s Evacuation insurance includes only $100,000 when we recommend at least $250,000. Low Medical Evacuation coverage is a red flag of an ineffective policy.
As you saw, Viking’s price is nearly double the cost of iTravelInsured Travel SE. But more disturbingly, it provides a fraction of iTravelInsured Travel LX’s benefits but costs more! This is unfortunately very common among cruise lines: deficient insurance for an excessive cost.
Also, notice that Viking’s “cancel for any reason” grants a future credit, not a cash refund. The vouchers expire if you don’t use them fast enough. By contrast, iTravelInsured Travel LX pays a cash refund. If you spent $13,000 on a trip and only get future credit, that’s a lot of money to sacrifice to vouchers (which don’t last long).
For the price, the Viking Cruises’ travel protection plan offers poor value.
When you buy travel insurance through a Travel Insurance Marketplace like AardvarkCompare or directly from the insurer, all benefits listed in the policy are provided by the insurance company.
For Viking cruise trip insurance, Viking, not the insurance company, pays for the Trip Cancellation benefit. In fact, many cruise lines that offer a Cancel For Any Reason waiver pay for the Trip Cancellation section themselves.
Of course, all other benefits such as Medical Insurance, Baggage and the rest are reimbursed by the insurance company, not Viking.
Now, we review the Covered Cancellation reasons Viking permits, and afterward, we dig into the details of how Viking’s Cancel For Any Reason Waiver works.
When you plan a Viking river, ocean or expedition cruise, you make a significant investment in your trip that you don’t want to risk losing.
Travel insurance with Trip Cancellation protects that investment in case you must cancel unexpectedly. Every policy has a list of reasons that are covered for a 100% refund if you must cancel.
Viking travel insurance allows cancellation for these reasons:
- A Sickness, Injury, or death of You, a Family Member, or a person booked with You on the Trip which with respect to any such Sickness or Injury, requires examination and/or treatment by a Physician at the time you cancel Your Trip. The treating physician must certify that the Sickness or Injury will prevent You from taking Your Trip.
- You or a person booked with You on the Trip are quarantined, selected for jury duty, or receive a valid court order to appear as a witness in a third party legal action (which jury duty or court appearance would be during the time of the Trip), and such impediment to travel remains at the time You cancel Your Trip;
- Your home or the home of a person booked with You on the Trip, or the destination accommodations specified for Your Trip, are made uninhabitable by natural disaster (such as a flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, fire, or blizzard) and are reasonably expected to remain uninhabitable during the time of the Trip;
- Your place of employment or the place of employment of a person booked with You on the Trip is damaged due to a natural disaster (such as a flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, fire, or blizzard), requiring You or that traveling companion to remain at work instead of participating in the Trip as a result;
- A documented theft of Your passport(s) or visa(s) which is/are not recovered prior to the time that you cancel Your Trip;
- A job transfer (other than a temporary assignment) at Your primary place of employment of 250 miles or more;
- Your documented involvement in a traffic accident while en route to join the Trip which reasonably causes You to miss the Trip departure;
- Unannounced organized labor strike, inclement weather, or mechanical breakdown which delays, for 12 hours or more, the aircraft on which You are scheduled to travel for (or to) the Trip;
- A shutdown of an airport or the air traffic control system which is reasonably expected to prevent you from departing on the Trip;
- You or a person booked with You on the Trip is either (a) called to emergency military duty following a natural disaster (such as a flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, fire, or blizzard); or (b) has a previously granted military leave or re-assignment revoked, and either such impediment to travel as described in subparts (a) and (b) remains at the time that You cancel Your Trip;
- You are terminated or laid off Your job by Your employer for whom You have worked for at least one continuous year and You are unemployed as of the time that You cancel Your Trip;
- Within 30 days of the scheduled Trip departure date, an act of terrorism occurs in a city that is part of the itinerary for Your Trip, and it is deemed a terrorist incident by the United States Government or by the authorities in the country where the act(s) occurred.
Viking cruise travel insurance provides a pretty solid list of cancellation reasons. Again, if you cancel for any of the reasons listed above, Viking compensates you, not the insurance company.
Most notably, Viking does not cover Cancel For Work Reason. If the traveler receives time off for the trip and later the employer requires the traveler to work during the trip, Cancel For Work Reason covers that. Fortunately, many policies like iTravelInsured Travel SE and Travel LX permit Cancel For Work Reason cancellations with 100% reimbursement.
Of course, Trip Cancellation reimbursement only applies to the money you spent with Viking. If you bought airfare, hotels or excursions through a 3rd party, Viking’s travel insurance leaves you exposed for those losses.
If you must cancel your trip for a reason that’s not covered by the policy, Viking offers credit toward a future cruise, but it must be used within 12 months and may not be used for the initial deposit. Viking calls this feature “Cancel For Any Reason” Waiver.
You can easily cover all travel arrangements, like cruise fare, airfare, hotels, transfer, excursions and rental cars with a single policy through AardvarkCompare. This strategy is much easier to manage and saves you money.
Cancel For Any Reason
As mentioned, Viking pays a cash reimbursement if you cancel your trip due to a covered reason.
If you cancel the cruise for any other reason, Viking only offers future credit or vouchers. In fact, cruise lines and tour agencies are notorious for offering future credit instead of cash refunds. Lack of cash refund puts some travelers in a difficult financial position, sometimes when they need money the most.
Cancel For Any Reason travel insurance policies available on the Travel Insurance Marketplace do not provide future credit.
Instead, they pay cash.
If you must cancel your trip, cash is the most useful tool. Although Viking calls their feature Cancel For Any Reason, in practice, it’s more like “Postpone For Any Reason.”
Here’s how Viking’s “Cancel For Any Reason” Waiver works:
- The policy must be purchased within 14 days of the initial trip deposit or payment, and
- The “Cancel For Any Reason” Waiver does not become effective until you make full payment for the cruise vacation, and
- The waiver does not cover fees or costs associated with any transportation, accommodations, or other travel services that are not arranged by Viking, and
- If you have other travel insurance, the waiver will be reduced by the amount of any Trip Cancellation amounts paid or payable under any other travel insurance or travel protection plan providing Trip Cancellation benefits.
Then, travel vouchers are subject to the following limitations:
- Viking Cruises travel vouchers may only be used when purchasing transportation, accommodations, or travel services from Viking Cruises, and
- Must be redeemed within 12 months of the date of issue, and
- Such travel vouchers are non-refundable and non-transferable, and
- Will only be issued in the name of the person(s) for whom the Trip were cancelled, and
- Are not redeemable for cash, and
- Viking Cruises travel vouchers may not be used as a credit toward the initial deposit for a future Trip booked through Viking Cruises, or to purchase another Viking Cruises Travel Protection Plan, and
- The value of such travel vouchers will not be reimbursable under the Waiver of any future Viking Cruises Travel Protection Plan that you may purchase.
If that sounds complicated, it is.
There are a lot of rules about how and when Viking allows you to receive and use your future credit vouchers.
On the other hand, Travel Insurance Marketplace policies like iTravelInsured Travel LX include Cancel For Any Reason benefit and are much simpler to understand.
Here’s how they work:
- If you cancel for a reason other than those covered by the policy, you receive 75% of your Trip Cost reimbursed in Cash
- Must purchase the policy within 20 days of your Initial Trip Payment, and increase your policy coverage within 20 days of any subsequent payments
- Must cover 100% of all trip costs by the policy
- Must cancel the trip 48 hours or more prior to your Departure Date.
That’s all there is to it. Not complicated.
For example, if you got news from back home that a family member was suddenly hospitalized with a critical illness, you can return home early. The insurance reimburses you for the unused portion of the trip, plus the extra cost of going home early.
Viking Cruises travel insurance covers more reasons for Trip Interruption than for Trip Cancellation.
Covered Interruptions include:
- Covered sickness, injury or death of you, a family member, traveling companion or business partner that occurs during the trip
- Being hijacked, quarantined, required to serve on a jury, or subpoena
- Primary place of residence or destination being rendered uninhabitable by fire, flood, burglary or other natural disaster
- Documented theft of passports or visas
- Permanent transfer of employment of 250 miles or more
- Being directly involved in a traffic accident on the way to departure
- Unannounced strike of common carrier
- Inclement weather
- Mechanical breakdown of common carrier
- Government-mandated shutdown of an airport or air traffic control system
- Traveler is in the military and called to emergency duty for a national disaster other than war
- Involuntary employer termination or layoff
- Revocation of previously granted military leave or reassignment due to war
- Your family or friends living abroad with whom you are planning to stay are unable to provide accommodations due to life-threatening illness/injury or death of one of them
- Victim of felonious assault
- Trip is delayed and causes you to lose 50% or more of the scheduled trip duration
Viking cruise trip insurance provides a respectable list of covered interruption reasons. Interestingly, they offer more covered reasons for Trip Interruption than for Trip Cancellation. But, it’s not surprising since the insurance company pays for the Interruption, not Viking, who pays for the Cancellation.
The above list is typical of a mid-level travel insurance policy but lacks a couple of reasons missing from iTravelInsured Travel SE.
Interruption For Any Reason
Another notable feature Cancel For Any Reason travel insurance policies offer, but Viking does not, is Interruption For Any Reason.
While Cancel For Any Reason lets you cancel the trip for any reason at all, Interruption For Any Reason helps you curtail your trip early if you want to return home early.
Suppose you’re on a trip and receive news that your dog was hit by a car. Since this isn’t a covered reason for Trip Interruption, you could use Interrupt For Any Reason to cut short your cruise and return home to see your dog.
The beauty of Interruption For Any Reason is that you’ll receive 75% of the Unused portion of the Trip Cost, instead of zero.
Here are the rules if you want to use Interrupt For Any Reason:
- You can use this benefit 48 hours or more after your actual departure date
- You receive 75% of the total amount of coverage you paid for prepaid payments or deposits for non-refundable travel arrangements.
While most travelers are concerned with losing their investment in the trip, many overlook the importance of Medical Insurance.
A trip cost of $5,000 or $25,000 is a significant purchase. But if a medical emergency occurs during your trip, a hospital bill of $100,000 is a far more devastating loss.
Because medical treatment is expensive everywhere in the world, we recommend all travelers leaving the US to purchase at least $100,000 Medical Insurance.
Some travelers assume Medicare covers them outside the US, but, unfortunately, this is not the case. Medicare does not pay any international providers.
Although some Medicare supplement policies include a $50,000 emergency health insurance, it comes with some restrictions. The benefit is a lifetime limit, not a per trip limit.
In addition, Medicare supplement policies require you to pay a 20% out-of-pocket co-insurance (up to $10,000 of your money). If your primary insurance at home is Medicare and a Medicare supplement, it makes sense to get additional coverage.
Another common misconception is that health care is free in other countries. That’s only half true.
Countries that offer universal health care only provide it to their residents. They pay taxes to fund their national health care program and provide free care at public hospitals. On the other hand, traveling Americans are sent to private hospitals for treatment where you must pay the full price out of pocket.
If you receive treatment at a private medical center, you can expect $3,000 to $4,000 inpatient fees per night, plus additional costs for medicine, tests, treatments, or surgeries. After you worked hard to save for retirement, would you want to risk losing your nest egg to foreign medical care?
One last situation worth noting is that the US State Department does not provide any financial support for medical treatment. Nor do they pay for medical evacuation to bring you home.
This myriad of circumstances is why AardvarkCompare recommends each traveler take at least $100,000 Medical Insurance when leaving the US.
Looking at Viking Cruise medical insurance, we are quite pleased with their offer. Viking Cruises travel insurance provides $100,000 Medical Insurance for each traveler. Very few cruise lines provide such a generous benefit.
If you prefer Medical Insurance with a higher limit, we recommend the iTravelInsured Travel SE or Travel LX. The SE includes $150,000 Medical Insurance and LX has $500,000 Medical Insurance.
Emergency Medical Evacuation
Medical Evacuation insurance is the yin to Medical Insurance’s yang. Together, these two benefits provide comprehensive coverage in a medical emergency.
People often dismiss the importance of Medical Evacuation insurance.
Suppose you are healthy and not taking any medication. While in Germany on your Rhine River cruise, you start feeling bad and the crew thinks you are having a stroke. They rush you to the hospital and the doctor confirms a stroke after completing multiple tests.
The doctor says you are stable enough to travel, but not well enough to take a commercial flight home. She orders air transportation home on a medical jet because you’re still at risk and require medical personnel to oversee your vitals.
Medical air transportation can cost $15,000 to $25,000 per flight hour and it’s a 9-hour flight home. However, your personal health insurance does not cover Medical Evacuation.
But travel insurance does!
Medical Evacuation provides transportation:
- From the point of injury or illness to the closest hospital, and
- From the first hospital to another hospital that is better equipped to treat your condition, and
- Transportation home either by commercial airline or private medical aircraft.
In addition, it includes the return of remains if a traveler dies during their trip.
Therefore, AardvarkCompare recommends all travelers leaving the US get at least $250,000 Emergency Medical Evacuation protection.
Sadly, Viking cruises travel insurance falls gravely short. They include only $100,000 for Medical Evacuation. Since the bulk of their river cruises sail in Europe, their coverage falls very short to get a traveler back home.
Most worrisome, Viking’s expedition cruises, which travel to very remote locations, require even more Medical Evacuation protection. For trips to the Arctic, Antarctic, Galapagos, and other distant places, we recommend you take at least $500,000 Medical Evacuation. Viking’s feeble $100,000 Medical Evacuation amount will not get you back to dry land, much less a hospital in a city.
By contrast, iTravelInsured Travel SE provides $500,000 Medical Evacuation and Travel LX gives you a generous $1,000,000 Medical Evacuation. Both are priced lower than Viking’s unsuitable travel insurance.
Pre-existing Medical Conditions
Fortunately, most policies do not look at your entire life’s medical history. Instead, they only concern themselves with the most recent 60-180 days.
They define a Pre-existing Medical Condition as one for which in the past 60-180 days you’ve received treatment, testing, medication change, new medication added, or the doctor recommended treatment or a test that has not occurred yet.
If you have a condition that’s been treated for years with medication, and that medication has not changed, and the condition has not worsened, then it would be covered by the policy since it’s older than 60-180 days. Often, people have nothing to worry about regarding conditions like high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
On the other hand, if you recently went to the doctor for treatment, test or medication change of a Pre-existing Condition, then these conditions may be excluded from coverage.
To make sure your travel insurance covers Pre-existing Conditions, look for a policy with a Waiver of Pre-existing Medical Conditions. This waiver allows the policy to cover your condition if you purchase it within 14-21 days of the Initial Trip Deposit or Payment.
As always, AardvarkCompare recommends travelers, especially seniors, purchase a travel insurance plan that covers Pre-existing Conditions whenever possible.
Favorably, Viking river cruise travel insurance offers the Waiver of Pre-existing Medical Conditions when you purchase the policy within 14 days of the Initial Deposit. Not all cruise lines provide this coverage, so we are satisfied to see the Waiver from Viking.
Keep in mind, Viking isn’t the only insurance that offers a Waiver of Pre-existing Medical Conditions. Most policies available through AardvarkCompare offer a Waiver, including iTravelInsured Travel SE and Travel LX.
Travel SE requires that you purchase the policy within 20 days of Initial Deposit. On the other hand, Travel LX is a bit more lenient. Travel LX requires that you purchase the policy before or no later than within 1 day of your Final Payment.
Although Viking Cruises receives high accolades each year for their cruises, their travel insurance does not deserve such praise.
Viking travel insurance falls short in several key areas.
First, their plan is excessively expensive, and you endure poor value for your money.
Second, their Cancel For Any Reason waiver only gives you future credit toward cruises, not a cash refund. Viking Cruises insurance is a stark contrast to Cancel For Any Reason travel insurance plans that pay a cash reimbursement.
Third, we are pleased that they have adequate Medical Insurance and provide a Waiver of Pre-existing Medical Conditions, but we are disappointed by its deficient Medical Evacuation protection. We consistently recommend all travelers leaving the US secure at least $250,000 Medical Evacuation protection. Viking Cruises trip insurance only includes a mere $100,000.
Finally, the Viking policy lacks less obvious features like Cancel For Work Reason and Interruption For Any Reason.
Did you know that it’s illegal to discount travel insurance? True story. There are anti-discrimination laws in the US that prevent insurers from discriminating against individuals who buy travel insurance. Thus, you’ll always find the lowest possible price with us. Not even the insurer can beat our price.
Consider whether travel insurance is right for your trip. If you plan to travel on a lovely river cruise vacation with Viking, shop around to find out what your options are. We’re sure you’ll find more coverage at a lower cost with AardvarkCompare.