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Travel Insurance: Papua New Guinea

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Travelling to Papua New Guinea? Compare travel insurance policies with confidence.

From its soaring mountain peaks to its pristine beaches, Papua New Guinea (PNG) has plenty to offer travellers from Australia. However, before you visit this breathtaking country it’s important that you invest in the right travel insurance policy.

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Do I need travel insurance for Papua New Guinea?

There’s a whole lot that can go wrong when you’re travelling through PNG including:

  • Lost luggage
  • Travel delays
  • Medical emergencies
  • Cancellations

Papua New Guinea is also known for its high crime rate and safety concerns. Travel insurance offers financial protection against these travel risks and allows you to embark on a trip to PNG with complete confidence.

How do I get travel insurance for Papua New Guinea?

The best approach is to compare travel insurance policies and find the best plan for your needs. You will then need to nominate the appropriate region to cover Papua New Guinea.

Top 4 travel risks in Papua New Guinea

  • Crime. Crime levels remain high in PNG, particularly around Port Moresby, Lae and Mt Hagen. Incidents can be random and often violent with muggings, assault, bag snatching and robbery all potential risks.
  • Theft and robberies. Banks and ATMs are common targets for thieves, so security is paramount when taking out cash in PNG. In addition to money and valuables, passports are also common targets for thieves.
  • Civil unrest. The Smartraveller website warns that outbreaks of violence can erupt at any time due to tension between clans and ethnic groups. Small disputes can quickly escalate into violent clashes that also lead to looting and rioting. Violent crime is listed as a threat around heavily populated areas such as Port Moresby.
  • Poor roads. Many roads in PNG are in extremely poor condition and flooding is common. Road closures and long delays can result.

Example: Brian's car troubles

Travel insurance can provide vital protection against many of these risks, provided that you do everything within your control to avoid these risks.

Brian set himself on a 10-day adventure sightseeing in Papua New Guinea. However, just 3 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 cover for the medical treatment he required, the several-thousand-dollar rental vehicle excess, 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.

* This is a fictional, but realistic, example.

scuba-png5 activities you may need extra cover for in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinean adventure activities

With its rugged mountains and amazing beaches, PNG offers a host of wonderful sights and experiences just begging to be explored. Travellers to the region can go:

  • Surfing. The capital of PNG, Kavieng features a fast growing surfing scene.
  • Scuba diving. Snorkelling and diving around the decaying piers of the Samarai Island Wharf offers an incredible experience with 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 Kimbe.
  • Cycling and motorcycling. The Boluminski Highway is a scenic route built for cycling, with little traffic and flat surfaces.

Check with your insurer

If you know what sort of activities you’d like to try on your trip, check to see whether your insurer will cover those activities. Many insurers exclude a range of adventure sports from cover altogether, while others require you to take out an optional sports package for an additional premium.

Make sure you have a licence for motorcycling

Another popular activity in PNG is motorcycling, but you should also check your PDS first before throwing a leg over a bike. Motorcycling is commonly excluded from travel insurance cover unless you meet certain conditions, such as wearing a helmet and holding a valid licence.

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kokodaCan I get covered for treks along the Kokoda Trail?

The Kokoda Trail

For many travellers, trekking along the Kokoda Trail 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 will be exposed to the risk factors that come with trekking including injuries and cancellations due to extreme weather.

Getting cover for trekking the Kokoda Trail depends largely on following the conditions set out by your insurer

While some travel insurance brands such as Travel Insurance Direct explicitly state coverage for the Kokoda Trail on their website, most providers have standard conditions regarding trekking and hiking within their policies.

Below are some examples of policies that cover trekking and their specific conditions.

Travel Insurance ProviderConditionsApply


No rock climbing using ropes or using climbing equipment (other than hiking).
Budget Direct Travel Insurance

Budget Direct

Trekking and hiking is covered for 3,000 metres altitude but not more than 5,000 metres.
Travel Insuranz

Travel Insuranz

Trekking up to 4,000m without the need of ropes, picks or other specialist equipment is supported.
Columbus Direct

Columbus Direct

Trekking is covered up to 6,000m with the purchase of Sports/Adventure Pack B. No cover for mountaineering normally requiring ropes or guides.

How am I covered if my travels are affected by civil unrest?

Recent cases of 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. Similarly, the Autonomous Bougainville Government elections held in mid-2015 also prompted violence and civil unrest.

Civil violence is typically excluded

If you read the fine print of most travel insurance policies you’ll discover that many insurers will not 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.

Check with your insurer

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 holiday. Contact your insurance provider for information on when you will and will not be covered.

Getting cover for volunteer work in Papua New Guinea

Volunteering in PNG

For some Australians, 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.

Assess the nature of your work and your policy

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 cover and others may impose benefit limits or even restrictions. For example, Go Insurance will not cover any manual labour, which is often a staple activity of volunteer work. Similarly, Columbus Direct will exclude cover for any "hazardous" work, regardless of whether it is voluntary or paid.

Can I get cover for private charter boat tours?

Yes, but pay attention to exclusions

Planning on going deep-sea fishing on your PNG holiday? Most insurers will provide you with cover while you’re reeling in a big one on a private charter fishing boat.

Exclusions for international waters

You won’t receive any cover if you’re fishing in international waters. If you’re fishing in any body of water (including oceans, regional seas, rivers, lakes, estuaries and more) that transcend international borders, don’t expect to be able make a claim.

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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 Australian standards, and medical evacuation to Australia is often the only option for severe injuries and illnesses. With this in mind, travel insurance that offers comprehensive cover for medical evacuation is recommended.

Common diseases in PNG

Travellers 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, tuberculosis, cholera, typhoid and hepatitis.

General claims process

For all types of claims, make sure to follow a few simple steps:

  • Contact your insurer as soon as possible. Notify them of any event that may lead to a claim and so they can guarantee payment to the hospital if necessary.
  • Collect all the relevant documents. This includes police reports, medical reports, receipts and proof of ownership, that may be required to back up your claim.
  • Fill out a claim form. Provide full details of your claim to your insurance provider.
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Are there entry requirements for Papua New Guinea?

You must have a visa

Australians travelling to PNG will require a visa – this needs to be obtained before you depart Australia. Contact your nearest High Commission, Embassy or Consulate of Papua New Guinea to get the ball rolling.

Is travel insurance compulsory?

While travel insurance is not an entry requirement for travellers to PNG it is still critically important. Expensive accidents and unforeseen events can occur anywhere in the world, but especially when you’re travelling to a developing country like PNG, having financial protection in place is crucial.

When is the best time to travel to 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 travellers hoping to trek the legendary Kokoda Track, while it’s also when a number of popular festivals are held.

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 do generally produce the best conditions for surfers.

High Season: May - October
  • Cool and dry
  • Perfect time to trek to the legendary Kokoda Trail
April, November
  • Hot, humid and unpredictable
Low Season: December - March
  • Very wet
  • Produces the best conditions for surfers

Organising money for Papua New Guinea

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

You should also 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.

Who do I contact in an emergency?

Your travel insurer

If you need emergency assistance, contact the global emergency assistance hotline provided by your insurer. Many of these call centres are staffed 24/7 and can help you do things like find a doctor, replace stolen passports and much more. In some situations, you may be better off contacting your travel agent or your family and friends.

Australia High Commission in Port Moresby

If you require consular assistance you can contact the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby:


Travel tips for Papua New Guinea

  • Be aware of government warnings. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade recommends that travellers to PNG should “exercise a high degree of caution” due to the country’s high crime levels.
  • Stay alert. Pay close attention to your personal security and to your belongings.
  • Avoid any public demonstrations or clashes. Stay away from violent protests and large gatherings.
  • Keep car doors locked. Lock your doors and keep windows up at all times.
  • Be warned of flooding and landslides. These can occur during the wet season from November to May.
  • Get travel insurance. Organise comprehensive travel insurance and register with Smartraveller before you depart.

Travel insurance traps you must avoid in Papua New Guinea

When travelling in Papua New Guinea, be aware of these circumstances that will be excluded from your travel insurance:

  • Leaving belongings and valuable items unattended (for example, Port Moresby has been known for criminal activities including theft).
  • Losses that occur from being under the influence of drugs or alcohol (for example, drinking whilst hiking the Kokoda Trail).
  • Taking part in adventure activities not covered by your travel insurance policy.
  • Visiting a region in PNG where the Australian Government has issued a travel advisory warning (for example, areas of civil unrest).
  • Claims that arise from breaking the law (for example, driving without a licence).

5 steps to selecting travel insurance for Papua New Guinea

When selecting the level of travel insurance you will need, here are 5 things to consider:

  • Where are you going? Assess where you are visiting in PNG. There may be a chance of cancellations in unstable areas.
  • How long are you going for? This will help you choose single trip or annual multi-trip cover.
  • What will you do there? Add extras cover if you plan to partake in risky activities such as trekking the Kokoda Trail.
  • Are you taking valuable items? Consider extra cover for expensive cameras and electronics.
  • Do you have any medical conditions? Declare your pre-existing medical conditions and pay for the necessary premium.

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