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Emirates Is Offering Free COVID Cover - But Is It Any Good?

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Immanuel Debeer | 23/07/2020

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Flying right now isn’t what it used to be. The once stylish flight attendants are now dressed in scrubs and gone are the days of lavish onboard dining in business and first (at least for now).

To ease people back in the sky and provide that extra boost of confidence, Emirates is now offering full COVID cover when you book a flight with them.
If you have tested positive for COVID-19 while you are abroad, you will benefit from repatriation assistance, assistance with medical and hospital costs and assistance with quarantine accommodation costs in an approved designated facility.

All this to the tune of 150,000 Euros with zero excess. But is it too good to be true? Of course, my instant reaction to this is: what’s the catch?

The Emirates PR machine is very effective in what it does, and this is, without a doubt, a strategy to derail Qatar Airways in its quest to aviation dominance.

Emirates COVID Cover Policy Details: The bad.

Let’s start with the important bits first. The cover does not cover you in your home country. This means that if you catch COVID overseas and return to your place of residence, you will get nothing once you arrive.

  • The quarantine cover only covers you for up to 14 days but with one catch: you must be in quarantine infected with COVID for the cover to kick in. If the country you fly too has a quarantine policy for everyone arriving (such as Australia), you’re out of luck unless you’re sick.
  • Australians are excluded! The policy is only valid if your government isn’t advising against overseas travel. Right now, Australia advice against all overseas travel so this means we’re all excluded from this cover. Of course, this can change (hopefully soon) in which case; this cover is an excellent addition to regular travel insurance.
  • Alcohol is a big no-no. The policy states that it will not provide for the direct or indirect consequences of your consumption of alcohol, drugs or any intoxicating substance, not medically prescribed. This could potentially mean that if you went out for dinner, had a few glasses of wine and got sick a few hours later, they could possibly refuse assistance if traces of alcohol or any other substance are found in your blood.

Emirates COVID Cover Policy Details: The Good.

Ok, now that we got the bad stuff out of the way, does anything good remain? The short answer is yes! Here’s what you can get under this cover

  • Repatriation assistance: this includes the cost of getting you home or transportation to a hospital. This also includes your travel companion and children if any.
  • Medical & Hospital costs: free cover in an overseas hospital until the NEXtCare (the company underwriting this) doctors consider it is possible tore-patriate you back home.
  • Accommodation Quarantine costs: you will be covered for accommodation for you + your travel companion if you test positive to COVID-19. This is of up to 100 euros per day.
  • Assistance in the event of death: If you happen to die, the COVID cover will provide transportation to the relevant geographical area for burial. Funeral costs are also included but limited to 1500 euro so if you were thinking about a gold plated coffin; think again.

How to make sure you are covered + good to know

  • Buy a one way or return flight with emirate with either cash or Skywards miles.
  • You are covered for up to 31 days from the time your trip commences.
  • You must seek approval first before making any expenses. Costs will be settled directly with the hospitals, so if you pay, you will not be reimbursed.
  • If you have tested positive for COVID-19 at any time during the 31 days, your assistance will continue after the 31 day period up to the limits included.
  • COVID testing expenses are not covered
  • The free cover promotion runs from July 23, 2020, until October 31, 2020
  • You’re still covered even if you travel around other destinations, what matters is the departure date of your Emirates flight. So yes, onward travel by alternative means are still covered.
  • It doesn’t matter if your ticket was booked direct or via a travel agent.

Who’s Behind This?

The cover is provided by a well established middle eastern health care/insurance company called NEXtCARE. These guys have been around for 20+ years, so it’s good to see that Emirates has awarded this contract to a specialist company to assess and manage claims on their behalf.

Conclusion – is this the way airline will market themselves?

I think overall the move is smart and offers a good level of extra assurance to travellers to “fly with confidence”. Of course, Australians are excluded for now but considering our border lockdown is far more extreme compared to the rest of the world, this offer clearly wasn’t designed with the Australian traveller in mind (for now).

Going forward, I expect more airlines will follow suit since it’s an easy way to secure bookings from the limited pool of international travellers right now.

For all the details, visit: https://www.emirates.com/uk/english/help/covid19-cover/

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Immanuel Debeer

Chief points nerd and travel hacker at Flight Hacks

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