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If you’re planning a trip to French Polynesia, you might be wondering whether buying travel insurance is worth the extra cost. After all, you’ll be safe, right? Well, the only time I truly needed travel insurance was from an infected mosquito bite. Even if you’re a cautious person, there are incidents out of your control.
In this guide, we’ll tell you key things to look for when choosing the right travel insurance for your trip to Tahiti.
Choosing the right travel insurance for you
Read the fine print
Make sure your travel insurance covers the territory of French Polynesia. Don’t make the same mistakes I’ve made. I once purchased a “worldwide plan” only to discover the day before my trip that a few countries I’d be visited weren’t covered for my trip (East Timor and Zimbabwe). Fortunately, French Polynesia is usually covered under most travel insurance policies as it’s a relatively safe destination. If French Polynesia is not specifically stated, call and check to see if it’s covered. It might be under “France” as it’s technically an overseas collectivity of France.
Likewise, make sure your travel insurance covers your nationality and residency. Prices of travel insurance often correlate to your home country, not necessarily your current residency. This means you might be repatriated to a place you don’t live if your treatment is severe enough.
These are the must-have inclusions you won’t want to skimp on:
- Medical coverage: You can always replace your camera gear, clothes, accommodation bookings, flights, etc., but there’s nothing more important than your health. Healthcare in French Polynesia is limited on many islands, and serious illnesses and incidents may require medical treatment in Tahiti, where the main hospital is located. These bills can rack up immense sums–you won’t want to be caught paying out of pocket.
- Emergency evacuation: In the rare case where you need to be evacuated, you’ll want to ensure your insurance covers the cost of transportation to Tahiti. Or, in some cases, to your country of residence.
Losing your suitcase, camera equipment, or dive gear shouldn’t financially devastate you. However, medical bills can.
These are good-to-have inclusions:
- Coverage for damaged, lost, or stolen items: Maybe your suitcase never arrives, maybe your surfboard gets snapped in transit, maybe your camera lens is stolen… if you’re traveling with pricey items, you might want to opt-in for a plan that covers your precious goods.
- 24/7 customer service: French Polynesia is in a different time zone to the USA, Europe, and much of Australia. If something happens, you’ll want to be able to contact the company straight away. In East Timor, I called my travel insurance companies at all hours, and they always replied. This helped with my health outcome as I was able to receive treatment ASAP.
- Flexibility: Let’s say you want to change your plan and stay an extra week in the Marquesas (guilty!). Some insurance plans do not allow you to amend your plan once your trip has started, or purchase a plan outside your country of residence. If staying a little longer is on the cards, check to see if your travel insurance company is okay with that.
Check that your activities are covered
Don’t skimp on your travel insurance if you’re adventurer. If you plan to laze the day away on a white sand beach, foregoing almost all adventure activities, the basic travel insurance plans for French Polynesia will likely be enough. But, if you plan to go scuba diving, surfing, freediving, ATV riding, or hiking, you might need to upgrade your travel insurance plan just in case you get injured doing these activities.
For example, World Nomads offers two plans, the Standard Plan and Explorer Plan. The Standard Plan covers things like boating, kayaking, outrigger canoeing, yachting, swimming and surfing. But, you’ll have to upgrade to the Explorer Plan if you want to be covered for scuba diving or freediving (and even these have limits of what’s included).
While French Polynesia is a relatively safe destination, you likely won’t be covered should the islands ever make it onto a government’s “Do Not Travel” list, like we saw during the pandemic. If you travel against official government advice, your whole policy is likely to be voided. Ouch!
Weigh the pros and cons of trip protection
French Polynesia is not an easy destination for spontaneous travel. Inclement weather (we’re in the tropics after all), airline schedule changes, boat delays, and other unexpected events often have a knock-on effect when it comes to the whole trip. Most flights between the islands, especially during the high season, must be booked in advance. Many islands also have limited accommodation, pressuring travelers to book in ahead of time.
For peace of mind, it’s worth opting for a travel insurance with trip protection that’ll reimburse you should plans change.
Travel Insurance Recommendations
World Nomads is one of the most popular travel insurance companies, especially if you’re in the adventure travel realm. Their plans cover many sports, and they’re a decent pick if you plan to visit just one place, like French Polynesia.
Safety Wing targets long-term travelers and those who are visiting multiple destinations. They have a month-to-month plan you can toggle on and off as you travel, making it one of the low-stress options if you’re a frequent flyer.
You don’t want to pay twice for the same forms of insurance coverage. Some credit cards offer car insurance coverage, stolen goods coverage, and trip protection on any purchases/rentals made with the credit card. This means you can use your credit card to book and purchase things for your trip to Tahiti, and only spend money on beefing up your medical insurance coverage.