Cathay Pacific offering free COVID-19 insurance on all flights

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Passengers with tickets issued by Cathay Pacific traveling from 7 Dec 2020 to 30 September 2021 will automatically receive COVID-19 insurance.

With airlines desperate to for people to take back to the skies, some have rolled out complimentary COVID-19 insurance policies for additional peace of mind.

Emirates was the first to do this back in July, Etihad and Virgin Atlantic followed suit shortly after, and now we’re seeing Cathay Pacific extend this to all passengers too.

Who qualifies for Cathay Pacific’s free COVID-19 insurance?

Passengers who commence trips between 7 December 2020 and 30 September 2021 (both dates included) will automatically receive free COVID-19 insurance underwritten by AXA, provided their tickets are issued by Cathay Pacific. 

The actual flight can be operated by Cathay Pacific or any of its codeshare or interline partners, and coverage equally applies to tickets paid with cash and those redeemed with miles.

In other words, you could use Asia Miles to redeem an award on Qatar Airways and still receive complimentary coverage, since the ticket itself is issued by Cathay Pacific. On the other hand, if you used Qmiles to redeem an award on Cathay Pacific, you will not receive complimentary coverage since the ticket is issued by Qatar Airways. 

✈️ Rule of thumb: Issuing airline= the airline whose website you transacted through. If you use Qmiles to book a Cathay Pacific flight, you do so via the Qatar Airways Privilege Club website and hence your ticket is issued by Qatar Airways. If you use Asia Miles to book an American Airlines flight, you do so via the Asia Miles website and hence your ticket is issued by Cathay Pacific.

Coverage is effective once the trip has commenced and is valid for 30 days or upon return to your home country, whichever is earlier. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 during the covered period, insurance will continue to be provided for the duration of your medical treatment/quarantine until you return to your home country, even if it continues after the end of the covered period. 

How much coverage is provided?

Cathay Pacific’s complimentary COVID-19 insurance policy provides coverage as follows:

  Maximum Limit Payable
Overseas Medical Expenses due to COVID-19 US$200,000 per customer, per trip
Emergency Medical Repatriation due to COVID-19 Actual cost
Repatriation of travel companion and children Actual cost
Repatriation of Mortal Remains due to COVID-19 Actual cost
Funeral costs US$1,500
Overseas Quarantine Allowance due to COVID-19 US$100 per day, up to 14 days
PCR Test for COVID-19 Actual cost
☂️ Policy Wording

Only the following benefits require pre-approval:

  • Emergency medical repatriation due to COVID-19
  • Repatriation of mortal remains due to COVID-19
  • Funeral expenses due to COVID-19.

This is a nice difference compared to Emirates’ COVID-19 policy, where all expenses of any sort require pre-approval- something that may not be easy when time is of the essence. 

Approval can be sought via the channels below:

  • 24-hour telephone hotline, call: +852 2863 5785 (English, Cantonese, Putonghua)
  • 24-hour WhatsApp chat, message: +852 2863 5784 (English, Chinese)

Does this cover the cost of COVID-19 testing?

COVID-19 test
Routine COVID-19 testing will not be covered

Yes and no. This policy will not cover routine PCR testing that you need to undergo in your before departure or upon arrival.

Using the Hong Kong travel bubble as an example, you’d have to pay for your PCR tests before departing Singapore, upon arriving in Hong Kong, before departing Hong Kong and upon arrival in Singapore. 

However, if you fail an official body temperature check while overseas, or a PCR test for COVID-19 which prevents you from returning to your home country, up to two further PCR test will be covered. If you have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 and are required to undergo a PCR test, the policy will also cover the cost of the test.

Note: All PCR tests you are required to undergo as part of medical treatment for COVID-19 will be covered under the Overseas Medical Expenses section (i.e the cap of two tests does not apply)

Put it this way: any PCR test which is routine, expected or which you knew you would need before you started your trip is not covered. 

Does this cover quarantine upon arrival?

Some countries require all arriving passengers from a particular country or region to quarantine upon arrival, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms. In the case of such general quarantine orders, the cost of quarantine will not be covered. 

However, if you are specifically issued a quarantine order (e.g because someone on your flight tested positive or because you yourself displayed symptoms), the cost of the quarantine will be covered. 

Other things to note

SHN or medical costs upon return to Singapore will not be covered

Once again, it’s important to emphasize that coverage does not extend to your home country. For example, if you test positive for COVID-19 upon returning to Singapore, this insurance policy will not pay your medical bills in Singapore, even if you technically got infected overseas. Likewise, it will not cover the cost of your mandatory SHN should you return to Singapore from a country where this is in effect.

There’s a strange paragraph in the travel exclusions section which reads as follows (emphasis mine):

Your travel to a country, specific area or event when government or regulatory authority in a country to/from which you are traveling has advised against non-essential or all travel, unless such government or authority has provided exceptional permission for such travel. If traveling against advice, only COVID-19 claims will be covered. This exclusion does not apply if you have already started your trip before the issuance of such travel advisory. 

I take this to mean that you will still be eligible to make COVID-19 claims as per the policy terms even if traveling against government advisories, but if so then isn’t all the stuff in black already irrelevant?

Finally, note that coverage does not apply if you’re traveling in, to or through Crimea and Sebastopol, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen and Zimbabwe. 

Conclusion

While this policy does not replace the need for stand-alone travel insurance (it doesn’t cover flight delay/cancellation, or medical expenses other than those resulting from COVID-19), it’ll certainly provide additional assurance to those looking to fly on Cathay Pacific. 

When the travel bubble with Hong Kong eventually starts, I do suspect it may nudge a few travelers to favor Cathay Pacific over Singapore Airlines. It could also compel Singapore Airlines to offer similar coverage, in the same way that Emirates’ decision to provide COVID-19 insurance forced Etihad’s hand. 

Stay tuned. 

Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion with the intention of helping people travel better for less and impressing chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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