When the COVID-19 first hit the scene and wreaked havoc on the travel industry, travelers were shocked to find out that most insurance plans didn’t cover epidemics, losing them all the money spent on trips that ended up being canceled. Even now, many policies don’t cover COVID-19, meaning if you did hit the road today, then you contracted the coronavirus on your travels, you might be on the hook for all of your medical bills. Understandably, this financial risk has made people nervous about traveling again, even if destinations are relatively safely opened back up for tourism.
In an industry first, however, Virgin Atlantic is automatically giving all passengers flying on the airline between now and March 31, 2021, free COVID-19 insurance through Allianz Assistance. The offer stands not only for passengers who have already booked their flights but also for anyone who makes a new booking for a flight departing between those dates.
The policy offers up to 500,000 pounds (approximately $654,000) for medical treatment outside of your home country, including repatriation to your home country if deemed necessary by medical professionals, up to 3,000 pounds (approximately $4,000) for quarantine accommodations and refreshments outside your home country, up to 1,500 pounds (roughly $2,000) for accommodations and transportation in your home country. In essence, you’d pretty much be off the hook for any COVID-19 expenses you might run into on a trip, including at least some of the cost of a quarantine facility if you test positive once you land.
Now, the insurance policy does have a fair bit of fine print. First of all, the insurance only covers COVID-19, so if you happen to break your foot while surfing, you won’t be covered by Virgin Atlantic’s plan. Second, it only applies to passengers who are ticketed through Virgin Atlantic, not through any of its codeshare partners. For instance, if you book a flight from New York to London through Delta, but Virgin Atlantic operates the flight, you will not be covered. However, if you book a flight through Virgin Atlantic, but Delta operates it, you will be covered.
“Whether it’s to visit friends and relatives or take a well-deserved break, we believe this complimentary cover will provide some added reassurance for our customers as they start to plan trips further afield,” Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic said in a statement. “It applies in parallel to existing travel insurance policies which may now exclude COVID-19, and provides comprehensive cover for coronavirus, recognizing the needs of our customers as we restart services.”
While low fares and flexible cancellation policies have been used by airlines to woo passengers back onboard, Virgin Atlantic’s new insurance policy might just be enough to convince some holdouts to book a flight. Before you run off to buy a ticket, check out the full details of the insurance policy here, and be sure to read the fine print carefully.