What insurance do you need for a Kimberley cruise?

Once you have booked your cruise you are strongly recommended to have travel insurance for the trip. Such insurance should have adequate cancellation cover as well as a provision for emergency medical evacuation from remote areas.

We have put together a number of important questions that you should ask when considering appropriate insurance for this trip. As insurance is a financial product we are legally unable to provide you with specific advice.

Note that a normal domestic insurance policy will almost certainly not be suitable for this trip.

These domestic Kimberley cruises are quite a distinct special case when it comes to insurance. Some things that you should check when considering insurance (especially ‘free insurance’ offered via a credit card).

  • Is there adequate cover for the cancellation fees? This is a really important area of cover to consider as claims for cancellation costs represent the highest proportion (in dollar terms) of travel insurance claims. Whilst your cruise is probably designated as a domestic cruise, many insurers have a limited level of cancellation cover for domestic trips. If you have to cancel this trip a few days out due to unforeseen illness or injury you may well lose all monies paid for your holiday. Is this amount covered? The chances are that you will need higher cancellation cover than is available on a simple domestic policy.
  • Will there be cover for an emergency medical evacuation from a vessel in Australian coastal waters. I have put this phrase in italics as it is a very important coverage. In an emergency a helicopter evacuation from a ship in remote coastal waters off the Kimberley coast would, in theory, be covered by private medical cover or state ambulance cover. The key problem with this theory is the remote nature of the Kimberley coast. That’s one of the reasons you want to go there of course. On the rare occasions where an emergency evacuation is required in the Kimberley a third party operator is almost always required and the cost will almost certainly be passed onto the patient. There is no Westpac helicopter in the Kimberley!
  • Will it be covered by your insurer as you are travelling on a domestic cruise? The phrase ‘Australian coastal waters’ is important as some policies include medical evacuation from rivers and lakes only in Australia.
  • Remember to check the insurance company’s stance on pre-existing medical conditions. Most insurers have a list of conditions that they will automatically include without extra charge. Other conditions will require you to complete a medical assessment to see if you need to pay an extra premium. Be wary of any insurance policy that says it does not surcharge for any pre-existing medical conditions; it is likely that such a policy does not cover cancellations whatsoever.
  • If your insurer says medical evacuation is covered are they aware that you are on an expedition cruise? Some insurers seem to assume that all cruises are via large vessels that have sick bays and doctors on board who can authorise evacuations. Sometimes their cover is dependent on such. Most of the vessels we book – smaller, expedition style – do not have doctors on board as part of the crew.
  • If you intend to use your credit card “included insurance” please make sure you have read the terms and conditions of the insurance underwriters travel insurance policy to make sure you have fulfilled requirements for this cover as per the above. It may be worth a phone call to the card issuer to check. Also understand how much you have to pay by card to get the cover.
  • What about cover for COVID? More insurance companies are including some limited cover for claim arising from COVID. This cover tends to be for incidental costs arising from COVID diagnosis; often including medical costs. Please check the level of cover very carefully as insurance claims associated with generalised border closures or similar governmental restrictions are not usually included in this cover

As you can see from the above, this destination and style of travel does complicate the insurance a little and it is worthwhile to check your policy carefully. Some insurers have a specific policy for ‘cruising in Australian waters’ and this may well be designed with these domestic cruises in mind.

Kimberley Travel and Cruise does not endorse or recommend any particular travel insurer. But over the many years we have booked Kimberley cruises our passengers have secured appropriate cover from

  • Covermore is a market leading travel insurer in Australia. Insurance for Kimberley cruises can get a bit complicated (hence this blog). The main issue is that most insurance companies do not understand the concept of small ship cruising. Covermore, based in Australia, seem to understand better than most and have a specific level of cover for ‘domestic cruising’. We have found that the majority of our clients obtain their cover with Covermore.
  • NIB Travel insurance is probably the second most popular insurer for our passengers and they also have a policy for ‘cruising in Australian waters’. And if you are already a NIB customer you qualify for an additional discount.
  • Medibank Private
  • CGU
  • Fastcover
  • 1Cover

You may also obtain a quotation from your own health fund or state motoring organisation.


About Jenny

I’m an expert in small ship cruising in the Kimberley and have completed four cruises on different vessels along this spectacular coastline. With a family I now work part-time so if you would like to have a chat with me about Kimberley cruising at a time that suits you book in a call here  and I will call you then.

Cruises in the Kimberley are not ‘one size fits all’ scenario; there are different ships and itineraries each offering their own special elements.  If you would like some general information to start your research then download my free guide to Kimberley cruising here.   I have also written some really interesting blogs (if I do say so myself) click here to have read.