Emirates is offering passengers free medical cover for Covid-19-related expenses.
The Dubai airline is the first in the world to offer travellers free cover against medical costs incurred if they contract the coronavirus.
The new policy was implemented under the directive of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and is designed to boost people’s confidence to travel during the pandemic.
The medical cover was announced hours after UAE authorities said all travellers arriving in the country would have to be tested for Covid-19 before boarding flights. However, the policy does not cover the cost of coronavirus testing.
All Emirates passengers can use the cover for medical expenses of up to €150,000 (Dh638,118) if they contract Covid-19 during their travels.
“Under the directive of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, Emirates is proud to lead the way in boosting confidence for international travel," said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed, group chairman and chief executive of Emirates.
“We know people are yearning to fly as borders around the world gradually reopen, but they are seeking flexibility and assurances should something unforeseen happen during their travel.”
The cover gives travellers assistance for costs related to medical treatment, quarantine and repatriation if they get sick after taking an Emirates flight. It is provided by the airline in partnership with Allianz Partners and Nextcare and is valid for up to 31 days from the first day of travel.
Emirates announced the new Covid-19 cover after the city eased travel restrictions earlier this month and began issuing tourist and visit visas for the first time since March.
The airline has opened up more than 60 routes for tourists and residents, who can travel abroad as long as they follow a series of measures, including being tested for the virus on their return to Dubai.
All inbound travellers to Dubai, whether tourists or residents, must sign a form when they land guaranteeing they have medical insurance that would cover treatment should they contract the virus.
How can travellers get Emirates' Covid-19 assistance?
All Emirates passengers flying between Wednesday, July 22 and Saturday, October 31 will automatically receive the cover. This includes existing and new bookings, as well as Emirates flights booked via travel agents.
There is no additional fee to pay – the service is entirely free of charge and passengers do not need to register or fill out any additional forms.
Travellers flying with Emirates on a ticket that involves a flight with another airline will be covered only if the ticket was purchased via Emirates, and the first flight is with Emirates or one of the airline's codeshare partners.
How long is the cover valid for?
It's valid for 31 days, from the date that travellers first fly with Emirates. This is the same for one-way and return tickets.
The cover ends when travellers return to their country of residence, or after 31 days – whichever is sooner. There is no option to extend the cover for longer trips. A second one-way ticket will be treated as a new booking, with a new 31-day period of assistance.
What destinations are covered?
The cover applies to travellers flying on any Emirates flight, to and from any destination and across all classes of travel.
It is also valid in any destination that travellers continue to after arriving at their Emirates location – even if flying with another airline – so long as the onward travel is within the 31-day cut-off period.
What should I do if I get sick and want to use Emirates' Covid-19 cover?
Travellers diagnosed with Covid-19 that want to make use of Emirates' cover will first need to contact the airline's Covid-19 response team.
This can be done via a free hotline number (00971 4 270 8825) and support is available 24 hours a day. Travellers can also get in touch with the airline via WhatsApp (+971 56 35 89 937).
When contacting Emirates, travellers need to have their flight ticket, boarding pass, passport (including residency visa if applicable) and a positive Covid-19 test that's dated after their first day of travel to hand.
Emirates says that travellers must receive approval from the Emirates Covid-19 assistance team before seeking medical treatment.
Once the airline has been informed, the Covid-19 assistance team will arrange any medical assistance that's necessary. They will settle bills directly with hospitals and clinics. Travellers that pay for medical services for Covid-19 that have not been pre-approved by Emirates will not get any of their money back.
What is covered by Emirates' Covid-19 assistance?
Emirates' Covid-19 assistance can be used by travellers that test positive for the coronavirus while overseas.
It will cover travellers for repatriation assistance, medical and hospital costs, and any expenses related to mandatory quarantine in approved designated facilities.
Medical and hospital costs are covered up to €150,000 (Dh638,118) per person.
Reparation assistance is covered, including all costs to return the covered traveller home. One travel companion and accompanying minors will also have their travel costs covered. This will be via economy class flights, taxi or on first-class trains, as per the airline's Covid-19 assistance team's decision.
If travellers need to quarantine, up to €100 (Dh425) per day can be claimed by each covered person, for up 14 days.
Should any travellers die from Covid-19-related reasons, Emirates will cover the cost of transporting the body back to the traveller’s home country and assist with funeral costs up to €1,500 (Dh6,376).
What’s not covered by the policy?
The free insurance does not cover travellers for the cost of testing for the virus before or during a trip.
If a destination requires travellers to have a PCR test upon arrival or show negative Covid-19 test results before boarding a flight, this must be paid for by the individual.
Emirates does not provide any cover for passengers in their own country of residence and is not valid if travellers decide to fly against the advice of their local government. Passengers must follow all the rules of local authorities in their destination or cover will be invalid.
Like all insurance policies, there’s also a long list of circumstances that render Emirates' Covid-19 cover invalid. These include, but are not limited to, civil war, hostage situations, riots and terrorism.
The cover also won't hold up in the event of another pandemic or epidemic, and travellers participating in gambling, crime or fighting, or who have consumed alcohol or drugs, will not be covered by the airline’s Covid-19 insurance.