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Delaying buying travel cover could prove a costly mistake

11th May 2015 Print is warning holidaymakers heading abroad not to leave arranging their travel insurance to the last minute or risk losing valuable cover if they unexpectedly need to cancel or cut their trip short.  

Cancellation and curtailment cover is usually included as standard with travel policies. It provides a valuable benefit to those who may be unable to travel once they have booked their trip or need to cut short their holiday. Giving financial protection if you need to cancel or curtail your holiday under a range of circumstances including accident, illness, family bereavement, redundancy or a home emergency such as fire, flood or burglary. However, travellers are only covered for events they didn’t know about before buying their insurance – so the sooner you buy the policy the more protection you have.

The ‘buy as soon as you book’ warning follows new research commissioned by Travel Insurance into the Nation’s foreign holiday plans which reveals that:

Brits usually spend on average £1,600 on a foreign holiday, 26% spend over £2,000;

Of those who arrange travel insurance – 29% leave buying a policy some while after buying their holiday, 5% leave it to the last minute;

While most (91%) people holidaying abroad are covered by travel insurance, 9% say they never buy travel insurance;

Of those buying insurance, 52% say that they shop around for a good deal using a comparison website, a quarter are covered by their bank account, 12% buy insurance through their travel agent, 11% their holiday company.

Caroline Lloyd, spokesperson for Travel Insurance, said: “Often overlooked, holiday cancellation insurance is one of the key benefits of travel insurance. In addition to covering medical expenses and lost or damaged baggage, a good travel insurance policy gives you financial protection if you need to cancel or cut your holiday short. For example if you or a close relative suffers an injury or illness which prevents you from going on holiday, or if you, your partner or travelling companion is unexpectedly made redundant.     

“However, cancellation insurance only covers you for events you didn’t know about before you arranged your insurance. So, if a family member becomes seriously ill just before you’re due to travel, you can’t buy travel insurance with the intention of cancelling your trip. Similarly, you’ll be unable to obtain cover for a planned strike by airline staff. Insurers check when you could have first become aware of the potential disruption to your holiday before deciding whether your claim is genuine.

“Although it may be several months between booking and going on your holiday, it’s a good idea to buy travel insurance soon after you book. With an average £1,600 spent on a foreign holiday, leaving sorting out insurance to the last minute – could be a costly mistake.” Travel Insurance also compared over 580 single trip travel insurance policies which found that while most (97%) offered cancellation/curtailment cover as a standard policy feature, cover limits and excesses vary widely from just £500 to unlimited cover. There was also a wide variation on the excesses payable – from £15 to £250. A quarter of policies offered a discount for excluding cancellation/curtailment cover.

Caroline continued: “Travel insurance costs and cover levels vary greatly from policy to policy, so it’s important to shop around to make sure you choose the right travel cover for you based on the protection you want - rather than just picking the cheapest deal.”