Cruise Insurance is Your Responsibility

| Friday, 15 Nov 2013

The L.A. Times writes a stinker article about a "canceled for medical emergency" cruise

The Los Angeles Times today has an article about a couple who needed to cancel a cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line at the last minute due to a medical emergency. The author of the article, David Lazarus, writes:

You probably aren't entitled to much flexibility from a cruise line if you cancel a trip several days before the ship sails. Unless, that is, you or a loved one has just been diagnosed with cancer, in which case you'd think a cruise line or any business would try to show a little compassion — particularly toward a steady customer.

Mr. Lazarus then goes on to tell the tale of a “loyal” customer of NCL whose wife needed emergency gallbladder surgery just before the cruise started – and so they missed their cruise. According to Lazarus, "David Warlick was told to pound sand when he recently informed Norwegian cruise line that he and his wife would have to miss a trip to the Bahamas because his wife had been diagnosed with gallbladder cancer and was undergoing emergency surgery".

Many times Lazarus mentioned the fact that the Warlicks were "loyal" customers of Norwegian cruise line, because they belonged to the "Latitude Rewards Club," but in fact all that is required to become a member is one previous cruise. He does not mention how many cruises the Warlick's have actually taken with Norwegian. He only says that Norwegian refers to their rewards club as, "our most loyal customers."

Mr. Lazarus then ponders the legal notion of "corporate personhood" for which, he notes, businesses have fought all the way to the US Supreme Court to enjoy the same constitutional rights and privileges as human beings. Naturally he then suggests that in light of this ruling the cruise line should have behaved like a "person" and forgiven the Warlicks for their last-minute cancellation by refunding their money, or at least giving them a free cruise later.

He only makes one brief comment about cruise insurance, in another typical media dig at the cruise industry. He says, "I've never been on a cruise but considering all the horror stories I've heard about missed trips, I wouldn't hesitate to splurge a little for insurance and an additional $60 seems cheap when protecting a $4500 investment."

Yes! That is exactly correct. It does make sense to buy insurance. But your dig at the cruise industry makes NO sense if you look at the industry's safety records.

In fact, here is the thing you need to know about cruise insurance - it is always recommended to the customer to protect the travel purchase. In fact, many online booking engines for cruises show the customer the cost of the cruise with insurance included in the final purchase price, meaning it is up to the customer to make the decision to decline the cruise insurance.

One can easily purchase a policy that covers cover all kinds of medical conditions including pre-existing conditions, a feature that has been available in cruise insurance for decades, and not just since ObamaCare was enacted.

But let’s get back to exactly how far out of line this article went towards singling out and bullying Norwegian Cruise Line. Do we really live in a world where corporations are ever expected to forgive people for illnesses? For example, what if the Warlicks also decided to stop making their car payments or paying the mortgage on their house because of the necessary gallbladder surgery? Would he expect that they would not lose their car or house?

And yes, it is possible that cruise companies could forgive everyone who needs to make a last-minute cancellation but we would need to raise the price of cruises to cover the cost of cruise insurance for everyone because this added feature would need to be underwritten by a guarantor. That is how all insurance works.

When you rent a car you are always given the option of taking out extra insurance. If you don't take the insurance and you cause an accident is there any possibility that you will be forgiven? Does it depend on the circumstances, such as maybe you had a last-minute medical condition? You know the answer.

This is a long article, where Lazarus interviews UCLA law professors and Norwegian specifically about the case of the Warlicks. But predictably, the entire article becomes just another excuse for a "news" reporter to go on his soapbox about the Supreme Court decision that corporations have the same rights as people including the rights to use the court system to sue for financial damages and the right to make political donations. In other words, it's just another example of a reporter using his venue to air his political bias.

If he really cares as much as he says, maybe David Lazarus will pay for the next cruise for the Warlicks. Or maybe the Los Angeles times, a company belonging to the Tribune Corporation which also owns six other major newspapers, 23 television stations and several cable news channels, will pick up the tab? After all, they are a corporation which always means "deep pockets," um, except that the Tribune Company just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last January. Maybe it has something to do with the quality of their reporting?

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