UAE, July 28, 2020: Emirates will offer free COVID-19 insurance to all of its passengers who travel by October 31. The insurance covers medical expenses, quarantine costs, and repatriation if you miss your flight home. It also covers the cost of repatriating your body and your funeral if you die from the virus.
The move comes as Emirates tries to boost passenger confidence and demand during the coronavirus pandemic — the airline is only flying about 10% as many passengers as normal.
Emirates has a new strategy for boosting passenger demand in the midst of a global pandemic: coronavirus insurance. If one of its passengers is diagnosed with COVID-19 during their journey, the Dubai-based airline will cover their medical expenses, up to €150,000 (about $176,000). It will pay €100 ($118) per day for quarantine costs — such as a hotel room — for up to two weeks.
And if the worst happens, Emirates will offer €1,500 (about $1,765) for a passenger’s funeral.
The coverage is available for travel between now and October 31, 2020. It’s valid for 31 days from "the moment you take your first flight, and it covers you even if you travel onwards to another city," Emirates said. Testing costs are not covered, and passengers must contact the airline to get expenses approved before paying them.
The offering comes as Emirates seeks ways to rally demand and passenger revenue. The airline has been impacted more than most due to the fact that it only flies internationally: Despite a modest recovery in domestic and some regional travel demand, long-haul travel has just about flatlined.
Emirates has seen demand fall 90%, airline president Tim Clark told Business Insider in an interview earlier this month, though the airline has managed to keep some revenue flowing by pivoting from passenger to cargo operations.
The airline’s COVID-19 coverage is provided through NEXtCARE, the airline said, an arm of travel insurance provider Allianz. Emirates said the coverage is free and is applied automatically, no extra registration necessary.
"It is an investment on our part, but we are putting our customers first, and we believe they will welcome this initiative," Emirates Group CEO Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said in a press release.
While Emirates is the first airline to offer medical and quarantine expense coverage linked to the virus, various airlines and travel stakeholders have tried to boost customer confidence during the pandemic. Uzbekistan has offered $3,000 to visitors who contract the virus while traveling, while Cyprus has offered to cover costs of lodging and medication for visitors who develop the virus, CNN reported.
Fear of paying for COVID-19 treatment, though, isn’t the only thing limiting international travel. Various border closures, travel restrictions, and quarantine requirements have made trips abroad logistically difficult, if not impossible, for many. At the same time, cancellations of conferences and other events have eliminated the need for much travel.