If you have booked a cruise for Antarctica, you will need to prepare your travel insurance.
But… is there travel insurance for Antarctica?
Yes, there is. But because of its remote location and unstable weather conditions, when purchasing your travel insurance for Antarctica, cruise lines will ask for a policy which fulfils a few more specific requirements than your typical insurance plan.
It is especially important to get travel insurance when visiting Antarctica because there are no convenient hospitals or medical centres, so in case of any emergencies, you may have to be evacuated out.
What Should Travel Insurance for Antarctica Include?
When you look for a travel insurance plan for Antarctica, you should look at whether it covers the following:
- Medical evacuation.
- Out-of-country medical care.
- Trip disruption.
- Baggage loss, theft, or damage.
- Additional activities.
One of the main things tour operators to Antarctica will require from a travel insurance plan is adequate coverage for medical evacuation. You will likely be required to get emergency evacuation insurance amounting to at least $100,000.
Because Antarctica is isolated and there are no medical care facilities, if you get into a serious accident or become ill, you will need emergency evacuation services to get you to the nearest hospital. These are very expensive, especially to Antarctica where it is more difficult to get to. In fact, the cost can easily surpass $100,000.
Note that evacuation coverage includes any medical services you receive while on the flight to the nearest hospital as well as the cost of emergency air transportation. It does not cover the cost of your medical treatment once you reach the medical facility. For this, you will need medical care coverage.
In addition to medical evacuation coverage, you need travel insurance for medical care in a foreign hospital once you are transported there. Without national health insurance, receiving medical treatment can easily add up to very high costs.
A trip to Antarctica comes with a lot of uncertainties. If the weather is not suitable for travel, the trip could be delayed, resulting in additional costs. This is why it is important to have coverage for trip disruption as well, which includes cancellation, interruption, and delay.
Reasons that are considered eligible for cancellation or interruption reimbursement include illness, injury, death (you, family member or travelling companion) bad weather, unexpected natural disaster (at your destination or your home).
This type of travel insurance will cover you in case your belongings are lost, stolen or damaged (through no fault of your own). You will be reimbursed for any losses up to a certain amount.
When purchasing your travel insurance plan, make sure you know whether you will be covered if you leave the ship. In some cases, your insurance company could refuse to cover you if you got injured due to activities like kayaking, trekking, or expeditions. This is explained on the policy description, which is why it is important to read it front and back, including any fine prints and subclauses.
If you do not have coverage for such activities (depending on the insurance company) you can choose to include them as well – naturally, for a higher price.
When Should You Purchase Travel Insurance for Antarctica?
You should buy a travel insurance policy for Antarctica as soon as you book your trip. In fact, many cruise lines will ask you to submit proof of adequate travel insurance weeks or even months in advance.
Because there is always a risk of delay or cancellation with trips to Antarctica, getting travel insurance in advance will make you eligible for reimbursement in those events. Naturally, the nature of the reimbursement and coverage depends on the specific plan you purchase.
Is Travel Insurance for Antarctica Expensive?
Yes, travel insurance for Antarctica tends to be more expensive compared to insurance for other parts of the world. That is due to two main factors:
- The trip itself is usually more expensive. Most insurance companies will ask for the overall price of your trip before they will price your travel insurance plan. That is a result of trip cancellation coverage; the more your trip costs, the more the insurance company has to reimburse you if you make a cancellation/disruption claim. And trips to Antarctica don’t come cheap.
- The claims you would make if you need emergency medical care are higher. If you get sick while on a cruise to Antarctica, you will have to be evacuated out via air ambulance, which cost a lot of money (hundreds of thousands of dollars!). Then, on top of that, you also need medical care in the nearest hospital.
Insurance companies usually have several policies, with different amounts of coverage. On a general note, travel insurance plans will set you back about 4% to 10% of your overall trip costs. Let’s say your trip to Antarctica costs $10,000 – your travel insurance plan can range from $400 – $1,000, depending on how much coverage you get.
Where Can I Get Travel Insurance for Antarctica?
You can get travel insurance to cover Antarctica from international travel insurance companies. You can go to a local agency or purchase your plan entirely online.
There are many travel insurance comparison websites, like VisitorsCoverage, which you can use to browse through different companies/plans and find one that’s most suited to you.
You will have to submit information regarding your trip, like the destination(s), duration of travel, time of travel, age, your nationality, and even the total cost of the trip. You will receive the estimated policy price based on this information.
Is It Safe to Travel to Antarctica?
Due to how isolated and far away it is, the harsh and temperamental weather conditions, as well as the fact that the trip is almost entirely on a boat, a trip to Antarctica does not come without risks. Even though most cruises manage the passage without any incidents, here have been (relatively rare) cases where the passengers have had to be rescued from the ship after it hit an iceberg.
You can also encounter difficulties when crossing the Drake Passage, which expands from Cape Horn in South America and the South Shetland Islands in Antarctica and is known as one of the most troublesome bodies of water in the world. It can get pretty rocky, apparently – very bad for those who are normally plagued by motion sickness.
Once you reach your destination, if you are allowed off the boat for sightseeing, you should be safe as long as you don’t wander away from your group to “explore” on your own, follow the instructions and refrain from taking unnecessary risks.
Additionally, you should pack accordingly (i.e. very warm, waterproof clothes), and take your sunglasses and sunscreen with you.