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Leaving it late to arrange travel insurance could prove a costly mistake

16th January 2013 Print

ABTA estimate that around six million overseas holidays will be booked in January and money saving comparison site is advising holidaymakers to arrange their travel insurance sooner rather than later, because leaving it to the last minute means losing some valuable cover.

Although many travellers would say their main reason for buying travel insurance is for the medical cover or to protect their luggage, travel insurance can also provide protection against events affecting you before you leave your home. Around a quarter of a million policyholders make claims related to the costs of cancelling a holiday each year.

However, because travellers are only covered for events they didn't know about before buying their insurance, the sooner they buy the policy, the more likely it is they'll be covered if something goes wrong before their holiday starts.

For example, cancellation cover is standard on many travel insurance policies with cover levels up to around £5,000 per insured person on better policies. This protection would allow you to reclaim the costs of your holiday, up to the cover limit and minus any excess, should certain circumstances arise before taking your trip. These may include a serious illness or injury affecting someone in the travelling party or a close relative, such as a parent, child or sibling, who isn't travelling with you but who you would like to remain at home with.

Having a serious fire or flood at home may be another genuine reason why you might want to cancel or postpone your holiday. A natural disaster, war or other serious political unrest may also be something you'd cancel your trip to avoid and could be covered under your travel insurance policy. Also, being called up for jury service isn't something you can usually turn down just because you're off on your holiday, but if you didn't know about it before you arranged your insurance you may be able to reclaim some or all of the cost of cancelling or postponing your trip.

Jeremy Cryer, head of travel at, said: "It's important to remember that you cannot insure yourself against an event taking place that you were already aware of. If a family member becomes seriously ill in the lead up to your holiday you cannot then take out travel insurance with the intention of cancelling your trip. Likewise you cannot take out a policy after hearing about potential serious disruption to your travel plans, such as that caused by striking airline staff or a natural disaster, and expect to be able to claim for deciding to abandon your holiday plans.

"Your insurer will check when you were first aware of the potential disruption to your holiday before deciding whether your claim is genuine. It's therefore a much better idea to take out your travel cover soon after you book your holiday than to leave it until just before you travel.

"Cancellation cover is an important and often overlooked benefit of travel insurance but it helps hundreds of thousands of consumers reclaim cancelled holiday costs every year. However, in order to benefit from this protection, especially if you don't have an annual or multi-trip policy already in force, you should buy your travel insurance sooner rather than later."