The policy, which applies automatically to all flights booked with Virgin Atlantic, is designed to complement existing travel insurance and provide additional peace of mind for upcoming trips, whether customers are already booked or are in the planning stage of their trip.
In the event that they or anyone else on their booking becomes ill with Covid-19 while travelling, Virgin Atlantic’s additional offering ensures related costs are covered, no matter how long the trip is, or even if they’re visiting another destination on the same overseas trip. The insurance policy is fulfilled by Allianz Assistance and covers emergency medical and associated expenses while abroad up to £500,000 per customer – with no excess payment required. The policy also covers expenses incurred up to £3,000 if a customer is denied boarding, at either departure or in destination, or has to quarantine due to positive or suspected Covid-19 during a trip.
Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic, added: “Virgin Atlantic Covid-19 Cover joins the airline’s flexible booking policy to give as much choice as possible to customers as they make their future travel plans. Customers booking with the airline have the option to make two date changes to their flights, with rebooking available up until 30 September 2022. These date changes have the associated change fee waived, though potential fare differences may be incurred if the new travel dates are after 30 November 2020.”
Customers booked to travel from 24 August 2020 up to and including 31 March 2021 will automatically receive the new Covid-19 Cover and Virgin Atlantic Holidays customers will also benefit, where the flights on their holiday booking are with Virgin Atlantic. Providing the customer is travelling on a Virgin Atlantic ticket, if the flight is operated by a partner airline or a Joint Venture carrier – Delta Air Lines or Air France-KLM – the cover will also apply.
It's a bold move by an airline that has already announced significant job losses in its UK market – clearly, the decision has been taken in an effort to improve customer confidence and encourage bookings. Whether or not offering such insurance will be enough, remains to be seen. Is there a risk, when offering such policies that are intended to be ‘complementary to existing travel insurance’ that customers will rely solely on the airline’s free offering, rather than the more traditional insurance cover? The old-age problem of people not reading the small print could very easily become an issue once more, if costs that customers believe would be covered by their travel insurance aren’t. Only time will tell.