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When to buy travel insurance


New research from some of Britain’s leading travel insurers has highlighted the importance of getting cover – and of buying it as soon as you have booked your holiday.


Travellers are often warned that they should purchase cover as soon as possible after paying for flights and accommodation.

This is so that the policy can reimburse them in the event that they need to cancel their trip for any reason.

Statistics from two insurers, and Columbus, show that cancellation is one of the most common reasons that travel insurance claims are made.

Don’t lose out if you can’t travel

At Columbus, cancellation is the second most commonly cited reason for claims, after medical problems.

Customers of were only more likely to claim for medical expenses or delays experienced while travelling to or from their destinations.

In both cases, lost baggage or stolen possessions made up a lower proportion of overall claims.

Many travellers only end up arranging insurance shortly before they set off.

This means that they would be unable to claim if they had to cancel their holiday – for example as a result of medical problems or job loss – well in advance of their planned departure.

Most policies will allow claims for cancellation provided the reason for aborting the trip was unforeseeable at the time the cover was purchased.

Watch out for medical costs

At both companies, claims for medical treatment made up the largest percentage of cases.

The fact that medical expenses can be so high in foreign countries is perhaps the most important reason for buying travel insurance.

In the US, for example, medical treatment can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

At, the average value of a travel insurance claim made in the US was almost £2,000, compared to less than £400 in Spain and just over £500 in France.

Travellers within the EU should take a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with them.

This entitles British citizens to a similar level of treatment to that available on the NHS at no cost.

But the EHIC is far from comprehensive. For example, it will not cover the cost of repatriation, in the event that a traveller needs to be transported back to the UK for further treatment.

Avoid your claim being turned down

Just as important as buying cover is making sure you’re eligible to claim. has provided the most common reasons that claims are turned down, so make sure you don’t fall into any of these traps.

  • Failure to declare medical conditions. You must tell your insurer about any illnesses you already suffer from.

  • The policy doesn’t cover the relevant issue. If you buy based on price rather than checking exactly what is and isn’t covered, you could miss out. For example, not all policies cover high-risk activities such as jet-skiing.

  • Failure to get a police report of a theft. You must get official confirmation you have been robbed in order to make a successful claim.

  • You must be able to show you owned the item you’re claiming for. For example, you have a receipt for the purchase of a stolen camera.

  • If your claim results from drinking too much alcohol, it is likely to be rejected.


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