Virgin Voyages Travel Insurance - Review
Virgin Voyages, like most of Virgin Group’s endeavors, attempts to disrupt the cruise industry by offering cruises for adults 18 and up (no children allowed), high tech amenities, sustainable food sourcing, low environmental impact, and modern dining and entertainment. Uncharacteristically, Virgin’s choice for travel insurance is the opposite of innovative.
Although Virgin offers a variety of cruises, cabin types, and dining options, they only offer a single option for cruise travel insurance.
Like most major cruise lines, Virgin’s trip insurance policy carries dangerously low limits for Medical Insurance, Medical Evacuation, Trip Cancellation and Interruption. It also lacks many of the important features of quality travel insurance policies found on the wider market such as a Pre-existing Medical Condition Waiver and a comprehensive list of reasons for Trip Cancellation and Interruption.
Arch Insurance Company, a strong insurance partner, underwrites Virgin’s Voyage Protection, and Aon Affinity administers policy service and handles claims.
The one redeeming element of Virgin Voyages’ cruise insurance is that you can easily purchase it at checkout when booking your cruise online. Before you buy, check out our review to find out if Virgin’s cruise trip insurance is right for you.
Our Cruise: New Year’s Ahoy!
For this review, we compare travel insurance options for an aft suite. The cruise costs $10,680 for two people for the “New Year’s Ahoy!” holiday vacation. This insurance quote is based on a senior traveling couple, ages 55 and 60.
Conveniently, Virgin cruises offers travel insurance at checkout:
To Virgin’s credit, their website is incredibly user friendly and easy to navigate. And obviously, it’s a simple click of “Yes” or “No” to purchase their travel insurance plan. But before you click it into your shopping cart, you need to know what your $828 is really buying--and what it’s not!
When we review cruise line travel insurance plans, we always compare them to other options available on the wider marketplace. This way, you can see what the cruise line offers and whether it’s a good value and fit for your needs.
For virtually every trip, we recommend all travelers leaving the US have ample emergency insurance in case of an overseas catastrophe. It saves you the headache and heartache of paying for medical treatment out of pocket, and a 6-figure transportation fee to return home.
Therefore, AardvarkCompare advocates buying a minimum of $100,000 Medical Insurance, $250,000 Emergency Medical Evacuation, and a Waiver of Pre-existing Medical Conditions whenever possible. This is the primary benchmark we use to determine if a cruise line’s travel insurance is up to snuff.
In the next section, we show you how Virgin cruise travel insurance compares with two policies available at AardvarkCompare Travel Insurance Marketplace.
First, we compare Virgin travel insurance to iTravelInsured Travel SE because it’s the least expensive comprehensive trip insurance plan that includes our recommended minimums for Medical Insurance, Medical Evacuation and Pre-existing Condition Waiver.
Then, we show you what a top-flight travel insurance policy looks like, featuring maximum benefits and cancellation flexibility. iTravelInsured Travel LX is the least expensive plan that includes Cancel For Any Reason benefits.
How Does Virgin Voyages Travel Insurance Measure up to the Competition?
Trip Cancellation Reimburses You If You Can’t Travel
Senior travelers value Trip Cancellation benefits because it allows you to get a full refund of your prepaid, non-refundable trip costs in case you must cancel. The more reasons a policy has for cancellation, the better.
Disappointingly, Virgin’s cruise insurance covers a mere 5 cancellation reasons:
- Injury, illness or death of a traveler, family member or traveling companion
- Hijacking, quarantine, jury duty, subpoena
- Your residence is made uninhabitable by fire, flood, natural disaster, or vandalism
- Involved in traffic accident enroute to departure
- Traveler called to military duty for natural disaster (not war)
Virgin should be ashamed of such dreadful deficiency. That’s just about the weakest list of cancellation reasons we’ve ever seen on a travel insurance policy. Mr. Branson did not do you any favors here.
With a comprehensive trip insurance program found on the marketplace, travelers enjoy the best possible coverage without paying an arm and a leg. These policies cover all the above reasons, and:
- Destination made uninhabitable or inaccessible by fire, flood, natural disaster, or vandalism
- Traveler’s place of employment unsuitable for business due to fire, flood, burglary, or natural disaster and required to work as a result
- Theft of passport or visa
- Permanent transfer of employment of 250 miles or more
- Inclement weather
- Airport shutdown
- Involuntary termination or layoff
- Revocation of military leave due to war
- Bankruptcy or default of airline, cruise line, tour operator
- A traveler is required to work during the trip
- Travel delay causing you to miss 50% or more of the trip
In addition to a very limited list of Trip Cancellation reasons, Virgin’s travel insurance policy limits the maximum covered cancellation to $20,000 per person. While this cruise does not exceed $20,000 per person in cruise trip costs, booking a high-tier suite may trigger more gaps in coverage.
Although rarely needed, iTravelInsured Travel SE has a $50,000 per person cancellation limit, and Travel LX’s upper limit is $100,000 per person. But for all intents and purposes, we refer to their cancellation limits as 100% of trip cost.
Trip Interruption Refunds the Unused Portion of Trip
Like Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption insurance reimburses you for the missed portion of your trip if you have a covered disruption. For example, if you unexpectedly fell ill during the cruise and had to seek treatment off the ship for two days, that’s a covered Trip Interruption (and a Medical Insurance claim).
In some cases, your Trip Interruption may allow you to return to the trip after missing a portion of it. Other times, you might have to go home early to tend to a family emergency. In the same fashion, a Trip Interruption could delay your arrival to the cruise.
In any event, cruise travel insurance reimburses you up to the Trip Cost for the unused, prepaid non-refundable expenses for your land/water travel arrangements, plus the additional transportation cost paid to either:
- Join your trip if you must depart after your scheduled departure date or travel via alternate travel; or
- Rejoin your trip from the point where you interrupted your trip or transport you to your originally scheduled return destination.
While Virgin’s barebones policy offers only 100% trip cost refund for a Covered Interruption, both iTravelInsured Travel SE and Travel LX cover up to 150% refund. The extra 50% helps cover the added cost of transportation. Trip Interruption insurance that exceeds 100% is a hallmark of a robust and comprehensive travel insurance policy.
Medical Insurance Pays the Hospital Overseas
Sometimes travelers are more focused on Trip Cancellation and overlook the risks of traveling overseas without proper Medical Insurance.
Americans often have the false impression that countries with socialized medicine will treat them for free. But in fact, countries with universal health care programs only offer those services to their residents, not Americans. Even in Canada, Americans must pay full price for health care. Inpatient care at a hospital can run $3,000 to $4,000 per night, plus treatments and surgeries.
Even more troublesome, Medicare does not pay for your treatment outside the US. In addition, many private health care plans only reimburse for emergencies. For example, although some Medicare supplements cover up to $50,000 of emergency treatment abroad, it’s a lifetime limit and you must pay a 20% co-pay out of pocket. These policies falsely lead you to believe you’re safely covered, but they leave your retirement savings exposed to the risk of sudden, catastrophic financial loss.
Furthermore, the US State Department does not provide any medical support to Americans traveling overseas. In fact, the State Department and CDC emphatically recommend all travelers get robust Medical Insurance.
Thus, AardvarkCompare recommends each traveler take at least $100,000 Medical Insurance when leaving the US. This is enough coverage to assure you’re properly treated without paying off medical bills for years to come.
Getting back to Virgin cruises travel insurance, the Voyage Protection plan includes a worthless $10,000 of Medical Insurance. That’s simply not going to help you in an emergency.
On the other hand, iTravelInsured Travel SE includes $150,000 per person Medical Insurance, and iTravelInsured Travel LX covers $500,000 per person. These levels are better suited for seniors cruising in the Caribbean and beyond.
Emergency Medical Evacuation Brings You Home
Have you ever seen a helicopter land on a cruise ship to pick up a sick passenger, or heard of someone being flown home in a private medical jet? These things happen more frequently than you think.
Specifically, travel insurance Medical Evacuation pays for transportation from the place of injury or illness to a local hospital. Once you’re stable, Medical Evacuation takes you home. If your condition is critical and you require ongoing care by a medical team to return home, an air ambulance outfitted as a flying ICU might be most appropriate.
But brace yourself. Private air transportation can cost $15,000 to $25,000 per flight hour and coming back to the US from Europe or Asia can get very expensive, very quickly.
In addition, many travelers falsely assume their private health insurance pays for Medical Evacuation so they can go home. In fact, private health insurance plans, including Medicare supplements, do not include Evacuation benefits beyond a limited amount for ground ambulance to the hospital. So that medical flight cost comes out of your pocket and might cost as much as a house.
For these reasons, AardvarkCompare recommends all travelers trekking beyond the US border buy a minimum of $250,000 Emergency Medical Evacuation protection.
Not to sound like a broken record (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun), Virgin cruise insurance cheats their customers with a stingy $25,000 Medical Evacuation benefit. Meanwhile iTravelInsured Travel SE has $500,000 per person for Medical Evacuation and the iTravelInsured Travel LX covers $1,000,000 per person.
Pre-existing Medical Conditions
If the term Pre-existing Conditions gives you a mild anxiety attack, you’re not alone.
In the world of travel insurance, Pre-existing Conditions does not mean anything that’s ever happened to you in your entire medical history. Instead, trip insurance companies only concern themselves with recent medical history.
Most policies only care about the 60-180 days prior to the day you bought your cruise insurance policy. For many seniors, this is a relief.
That means, any conditions older than 60-180 days will be covered as long as there’s been no change or worsening of the condition, no treatments or tests, no change in medication, no new medications, and the doctor didn’t recommend a treatment or test that hasn’t occurred yet. If anything occurred during the 60 to 180-day window prior to buying travel insurance, it’s excluded from coverage.
That’s not so bad, right?
Luckily, if you purchase your policy early in the booking process, within 14-21 days of making the Initial Trip Deposit or Payment, mid-level and high-level trip insurance policies include coverage for Pre-existing Medical Conditions with a Waiver. Once those 14-21 days pass, however, Pre-existing Conditions aren’t covered. Instead, they’re subject to the Look Back period, the time between when you bought the policy and the 60-180 days prior.
To make life easier and give you peace of mind, AardvarkCompare recommends travelers buy trip insurance that includes a Pre-existing Condition Waiver. It’s simple to get. Just buy your cruise travel insurance policy shortly after making a deposit.
As you might guess, Virgin cruise trip insurance does not cover Pre-existing Conditions at all. They do not offer a waiver, so it does not matter how long you wait to buy their insurance, they won’t cover it. The only noteworthy quality in Virgin’s favor is their policy only looks back 60 days into your medical history, not 180 or 365 days.
As you correctly assume, both iTravelInsured policies we compare to Virgin Voyage Protection offer Waivers of Pre-existing Conditions. Travel SE is more traditional in that you qualify for the waiver when you purchase the policy within 20 days of the Initial Trip Deposit or Payment.
In contrast, Travel LX is unique. Instead of focusing on the Initial Payment date, it concerns itself with the Final Payment Date. In the world of travel insurance, this is as forgiving as possible. Many times, people don’t even consider travel insurance until they make their final payment, only to learn it’s too late to include Pre-existing Condition coverage in their cruise policy. Travel LX’s requirement to purchase the policy before or no later than within 24 hours of the Final Trip Payment is a blessing for thousands of travelers.
Cancel For Any Reason
Many major cruise lines offer a Cancel For Any Reason waiver which assigns future cruise credit to the travelers if they cancel their cruise for any reason not listed on the policy. Surprisingly, Virgin doesn’t offer anything of the sort. While cruise credit is far from preferable, it’s better than nothing.
On the other hand, some high-level travel insurance plans, like iTravelInsured Travel LX, built Cancel For Any Reason benefits into the policy by default. Instead of offering future credit, the policy gives you a cash refund for a portion of the trip cost.
Cancel For Any Reason has a few rules. It pays 75% of the prepaid, forfeited, non-refundable payments or deposits provided you:
- Buy the policy within 20 days of your Initial Payment or Deposit
- Cover 100% of the prepaid trip costs subject to cancellation penalties or restrictions
- Add any subsequent trip payments to the policy’s trip cost within 20 days of the payment or deposit for those travel arrangements
- Cancel your trip 2 days or more before your scheduled departure date.
Virgin Voyages offers contemporary cruising experiences, but unimaginative travel insurance. The policy is woefully deficient in important areas like Trip Cancellation, Medical Insurance, Medical Evacuation and covering Pre-existing Conditions. It also lacks a Cancel For Any Reason option.
Even more harmful is how little coverage Virgin’s customers get for their money. A top-notch plan like iTravelInsured Travel LX, with all the features and flexibility anyone could want in a travel insurance policy, is only $19 more than Virgin’s limited cruise insurance plan. Travel SE is one of many AardvarkCompare policies that provides outstanding value for the money, with more than $200 savings for exponentially better coverage.
In addition, you cannot add your other travel arrangements to Virgin’s policy, but you can add them with a policy you purchase in a wider marketplace like AardvarkCompare. You’ll find more value for your money working with AardvarkCompare.
Did you know we guarantee you won’t find lower prices on the same policy anywhere else, not even with the insurance company directly? At AardvarkCompare, we take the nation’s top travel insurance carriers and bring them in our marketplace where you can shop and compare different plans.
Recent AardvarkCompare Travel Insurance Customer Reviews
I Panicked When I Discovered
I panicked when I discovered the Travel Insurance I had through Expedia had expired when I changed my flight reservation.
When I went to renew I was told I couldn't.
I discovered Aardvark on my AARP site and I was excited I could purchase a an even better travel plan with coverage starting with my trip departure, at a cost I could afford.
I was confused with the initial site and was Mr. Breeze reached out to me for clarification.
He explained the policy more thoroughly and addressed all my concerns, can't get any better then that!
Thank You Aardvark and thank you Jonathan for your assistance.
I can go on my trip now knowing I'll be covered for medical emergencies, and then some.
Good Choices, Well Explained
I liked the way insurance was explained. I had read an article your company had written explaining Expedia trip coverage versus other choices.
I used this advice to make the best choice for me and my traveling companions. That choice was to take a policy that provided much better medical and evacuation primary care.
Your site allowed comparisons, and I think I got the best value for my money. I don't like constant follow up emails. You could back off a bit!!