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Why it pays to buy travel insurance early


Leaving your travel insurance purchase until the last minute could actually end up costing you more. We explain why.

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Booking a holiday – fun. Booking travel insurance – not so much.

Scrolling through the small print of travel insurance policies to make sure it’s the right one for you is a chore, so it’s no wonder many holidaymakers leave booking cover until the last-minute.

But leaving this important purchase until a later date could actually end up costing you more if you need to cancel your holiday booking.

The cost of cancellation

This time of year is a peak time for those heading off on winter sports breaks and for summer holiday bookings.

But if you need to cancel and you don’t have travel insurance, you could find yourself hundreds, even thousands of pounds out of pocket.

Buying travel insurance when you book your holiday means that if something prevents you from travelling, or if your holiday is cancelled, you will be able to claim on the policy’s cancellation cover.

Around 40 per cent of all travel insurance claims for winter breaks are for cancellation, according to travel lawyer Alan Bowen.

Unforseen events

He says: “This figure is even higher for summer holidays where around 50 per cent of all travel insurance claims are due to cancellation.

“The main reasons people end up cancelling are ill-health, redundancy, even being called for jury service or being unable to get the time off work.

“These instances would be covered by a travel insurance policy so you would get back the money you had paid for the holiday.”

Buying travel insurance in advance can also mean you’re protected against unforeseen events like the volcanic ash saga a couple of years ago, says’s travel expert Kate Rose.

“Many holidaymakers who bought a travel insurance policy in advance of this event found they could claim for cancellations and delays to their holiday.

“But any policy bought once news of the event was in the public domain, will not cover claims relating to the event.”

“As always, cover can vary from policy to policy so it's important to read the policy documents carefully to ensure they know exactly what they are covered for.”

Airline failure

Holidaymakers who forego package holidays in favour of booking flights and accommodation separately would also be wise to buy travel insurance in advance and make sure it covers scheduled airline failure.

This protects travellers is an airline goes bust.

If you’re booked on a package holiday and your airline goes out of business, the tour operator is responsible for getting you home.

But if you book your own flight direct from an airline you’re on your own.

Cover for independent travel

Bowen says: “Only around a third of travel insurance policies feature scheduled airline failure cover as standard.

“So if you’re an independent traveller make sure you buy a policy with this protection.

“If you’ve already got a travel insurance policy but it doesn’t cover airline failure then there are firms that offer airline failure cover as a top-up to your main policy for as little as £5.”


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