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Travel insurance for Papua New Guinea
Protect yourself on your Papuan adventure.
From its soaring mountain peaks to its pristine beaches, Papua New Guinea (PNG) has plenty to offer travelers from all over the world. Before you visit this breathtaking country, it’s a good idea to invest in the right travel insurance policy to keep you safe on the journey.
What’s changed in 2021?
*Be aware that most travel insurance policies don’t offer COVID-19 coverage. To find one that does, have a look at travel insurance policies that cover the coronavirus.*
How to compare travel insurance for PNG
Consider the following when selecting the level of travel insurance you need:
- Where are you going? Get coverage for any specific risks for the areas you plan to visit.
- How long are you going for? If you travel regularly, you can save money with an annual multi-trip policy.
- What will you do there? Make sure you’re covered for any activities on your itinerary.
- Are you taking valuable items? Consider extra coverage for expensive cameras and electronics.
- Do you have any medical conditions? Declare your pre-existing medical conditions and find out how you’re covered.
Depending on your itinerary and your activity schedule, coverage varies from insurer to insurer. But some main things to look for in any policy include:
- Overseas medical expenses. If you get sick or injured while overseas, your insurer can pay your medical bills. At the bare minimum, get a policy that covers hospital expenses, ambulance rides and medications. More comprehensive policies will also cover medical evacuation and repatriation in case you need to be flown to a major hospital — or even back to the US.
- Lost luggage. If the airport loses your luggage, your insurer will reimburse you. Some policies will also pay for emergency clothes and toiletries if your luggage is delayed for more than a few hours.
- Flight cancellations and delays. Flights can often be canceled due to circumstances outside of your control or a whole trip may need to be cut short due to an unfortunate incident back home. Travel insurance can help cover the cost.
- Rental vehicle damages. If you get in an accident with a rental car, your insurer can reimburse you for the deductible.
- Theft. If your wallet is snatched on your way to the hotel or your camera disappears from your bag, your insurer can reimburse you.
And depending on your thirst for adventure, additional coverage to consider includes:
- Surfing. The capital of PNG, Kavieng features a fast-growing surfing scene.
- Scuba diving. Snorkeling and diving around the decaying piers of the Samarai Island Wharf offers an incredible experience full of marine life and history.
- Hiking and trekking. Hiking up Mt Tavurvur is an exhilarating volcanic adventure with surreal views — make sure you have a guide.
- Fishing trips. Papua New Guinea offers some prime locations for sport fishing including the Liamo Reef Resort in Kibe.
- Cycling and motorcycling. The Boluminski Highway is a scenic route built for cycling, with little traffic and flat surfaces. Wear a helmet and bring a copy of your motorcycle license if you plan to rent a motorcycle.
Compare travel insurance plans
What doesn’t travel insurance cover?
Exclusions also vary from insurer to insurer, but common reasons for a claim to be denied include:
- Leaving belongings unattended. If you leave your suitcase on the sidewalk while you check out a shop or leave your wallet on the beach while you go swimming, your insurer won’t cover them if they’re stolen.
- Inebriation. If you hurt yourself or someone else while drunk or on drugs, your insurer can refuse to pay any resulting claims.
- Risky activities. If you plan to participate in any adventurous activities, check with your insurer to see if you’ll be able to get coverage.
- Traveling to an unsafe area. If you get sick or injured while traveling to an area that the US Department of State has issued an advisory against, your insurer might not be able to help you.
- Breaking the law. If you break the law, any resulting claim can be denied.
How to stay safe in Papua New Guinea
Travel insurance can help protect you against any financial consequences when traveling, but caution is always your best first line of defence. Things to be aware of in Papua New Guinea include:
- Crime. Crime levels remain high in PNG, particularly around Port Moresby, Lae and Mount Hagen. Incidents can be random and often violent with assaults, bag snatchings, muggings and robberies reported. Avoid traveling alone when possible, particularly at night, and don’t withdraw from an ATM in an unsafe area. If you are targeted, give up any possessions or money willingly — it’s better to file a claim for a stolen wallet than for medical bills.
- Civil unrest. Outbreaks of violence can erupt at any time due to tension between clans and ethnic groups. Small disputes can quickly escalate into violent clashes. Check news reports before leaving and reschedule your trip if the civil unrest escalates. While in the country, don’t get involved with any demonstrations.
- Poor roads. Many roads in PNG are hazardous and flooding is common. Road closures and long delays are common. Drive carefully, and plan for plenty of extra time to get to the airport.
- Polio. Vaccine-derived poliovirus is currently a threat in Papua New Guinea. The CDC recommends being fully vaccinated before you travel to the area — check with your doctor to find out if you need a booster shot.
Brian’s car troubles
Brian embarked on a ten-day adventure sightseeing in Papua New Guinea. However, just three days into the trip, Brian’s rental vehicle was carjacked. He was assaulted and had all his luggage and belongings stolen.
Thankfully Brian had taken out comprehensive travel insurance before leaving home, which provided coverage for the medical treatment he required, the several-thousand-dollar rental vehicle deductible and the cost of replacing his luggage, passport and stolen valuables. While Brian was still severely inconvenienced by the carjacking, it could’ve been a whole lot worse if he didn’t have travel insurance protection.
Other considerations for coverage in Papua New Guinea
Can I get covered for treks along the Kokoda Track?
For many travelers, trekking along the Kokoda Track is a breathtaking experience of a lifetime and with some tours spanning over 11 days, you will certainly challenge yourself physically and mentally. Getting travel insurance is essential for the Kokoda Trail, as you’ll be exposed to the risk factors that come with trekking including injuries and cancellations due to extreme weather. Many insurers will cover you for this hike, but check with your insurer before purchasing a policy.
How am I covered if my travels are affected by civil unrest?
Unfortunately, civil unrest has been a common occurrence in recent years in PNG. For example, Porgera township in the Northern Highlands has been the site of violence as a result of illegal mining at the Porgera gold mine. Multiple injuries and deaths have been reported in the area.
Civil violence is typically excluded from travel insurance policies, and won’t cover direct losses that arise from civil unrest at your destination. This is especially the case if there are ample warnings about the violence beforehand and you still decide to travel. However, if a particular area becomes unsafe after you have bought your policy, your insurer may cover cancellation costs and lost deposits if you’re forced to cancel your vacation. Contact your insurance provider for information on when you will and will not be covered.
Am I covered for volunteering in Papua New Guinea?
For some US citizens, spending some time in PNG performing volunteer work to help improve the lives of the locals is a very rewarding experience. Taking out travel insurance before doing so is essential as volunteer work in PNG comes with the attached potential for a variety of health problems, not to mention the risk of theft or travel delay.
Make sure you read the fine print of your policy and understand what exact activities your volunteering program will entail. Some policies will exclude any sort of volunteer work from coverage and others may impose benefit limits or even restrictions. For example, some insurers won’t cover manual labor whether it’s paid or volunteer.
Can I get cover for private charter boat tours?
Yes, but pay attention to exclusions. For example, you probably won’t be covered if you’re fishing in international waters.
If I have a medical emergency in Papua New Guinea, am I covered?
Yes, but make sure your policy has unlimited medical evacuation. Although the medical facilities in heavily populated areas of PNG are sufficient to handle routine medical treatment, that’s often not the case in emergency situations. The health facilities in rural areas are very poor by US standards, and medical evacuation is often the only option for severe injuries and illnesses. With this in mind, travel insurance that offers comprehensive coverage for medical evacuation and repatriation is recommended.
Common diseases in PNG
Travelers should be aware that visiting this region of the world will expose them to the risk of contracting certain serious diseases that may require emergency medical attention. These include mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis, as well as the measles, polio, tuberculosis, cholera, typhoid and hepatitis. See a doctor before you leave and make sure you’re up to date on all relevant vaccinations.
Who do I contact in an emergency?
In the event of an emergency, contact:
- Your travel insurer. If you need emergency assistance, contact the global emergency assistance hotline provided by your insurer. Many of these call centers are staffed 24/7 and can help you do things like find a doctor, replace stolen passports and much more.
- Police or ambulance. Papua New Guinea doesn’t currently have a national emergency number. Look up the numbers for police and ambulance dispatch before leaving the US for each area you plan to visit.
- US embassy. If you lose your passport, get into legal trouble or if there’s a countrywide emergency, contact the nearest US embassy or consulate.
Whether you’re planning a week of sunbathing on the beach or a month of nonstop adventure, Papua New Guinea offers something for everyone. Before you pack your bags, don’t forget to pack the most important thing — a travel insurance policy to keep you, and your bank account, safe on the adventure.
Frequently asked questions
When is the best time to visit Papua New Guinea?
The high season for tourism in PNG runs from May to October when the weather is at its coolest and driest. This is the best time of year for travelers hoping to trek the legendary Kokoda Track, and it’s also when numerous popular festivals happen.
April and November are hot, humid and can be a little unpredictable from a weather standpoint, while the low season from December to March is usually very wet. However, these months generally produce the best conditions for surfers.
What currency do I need?
The local currency in PNG is the Papua New Guinean kina, which was introduced in 1975. To give you an idea of costs in PNG, a double room in a mid-range hotel will set you back somewhere in the vicinity of K300 to K450.
Fees and safety
Keep the following tips in mind when it comes to managing your money in PNG:
- Watch out for foreign transaction fees. A credit card that waives these fees or has lower fees is recommended.
- Be careful when withdrawing money from an ATM. Don’t make yourself a target for thieves by flashing your cash around.
- Don’t exchange currency at the airport. You’ll be able to find much better exchange rates elsewhere.
When should I buy a travel insurance policy?
Buy your travel insurance policy when you buy your plane ticket so that you’ll be covered if your trip gets canceled.
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