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Travel insurance warning in the busiest week for holiday bookings

12 January 2015

Millions of British holidaymakers will book their summer holidays in January with the third week of the year traditionally being one of the busiest for those looking forward to some summer sunshine*. However, Gocompare.com is warning holidaymakers not to leave arranging their travel insurance to the last minute or they risk missing out on 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 valuable protection against events affecting you before you even leave your home. According to the ABI, around 34% of travel insurance claims made by UK holidaymakers are for costs related to cancellations with an average claim value of around £700. This is second only to the average medical costs claim of £900**.

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.

Having a major incident such as a serious fire or flood at home may be another genuine reason why you might want to cancel or postpone your holiday, but may 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 costs of cancelling or postponing your trip.

Caroline Lloyd, travel insurance expert at Gocompare.com, said: “You can’t insure yourself against an event taking place or for circumstances arising about which you were already aware. If a family member becomes 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 hear about potential serious disruption to your travel plans, such as that caused by striking airline or air traffic control staff, and expect to be able to claim if you subsequently decide to change your travel plans. The insurer will check when you could have first become aware of the potential disruption to your holiday before deciding whether or not to pay your claim.

“Even if it’s several months from when you book your holiday to when you actually travel, it’s best to take out your travel cover soon after you book your holiday rather than leaving it until just before you go. That way you’ll benefit from any cancellation cover provided by your policy as soon as you buy it, giving you several months of valuable protection in the lead up to your trip rather than just the week or two of your actual holiday if you leave it late. It’s a false economy to delay arranging your travel insurance.

“Cancellation cover is a frequently overlooked benefit of travel insurance compared to medical costs cover - but as figures from the ABI show, it helps hundreds of thousands of consumers reclaim cancelled holiday costs every year. Cover levels vary greatly between policies so compare wisely and choose the right travel cover for you based on the protection you want rather than the policy with the lowest premium. It’s also worth remembering that cancellation cover limits are per person covered by the policy, so if you take out one family travel insurance policy for all of you, you’ll need to work out how much you paid per person for your holiday and make sure you have adequate levels of cover to reimburse you fully should you need to cancel.

“Finally, don’t feel pressured to buy your holiday operator’s packaged cover. It’s usually one of the most expensive ways to get travel insurance and you should be able to find a better value deal quickly by comparing policies online.”

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Notes to Editors:

*source - ABTA **source - ABI Travel insurance statistics update – January 2014

***source: Defaqto Matrix of 534 single trip travel insurance policies - instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial researcher Defaqto (02 January 2015).