More than a third of holidaymakers (34%) don't buy travel insurance when they book their holiday, leaving them without cancellation cover if they are unable to go on their trip.
Cancellation and curtailment cover is usually included as standard with most policies, giving cover under a range of circumstances including accident, illness, family bereavement and redundancy.
Worryingly, nearly one in ten (9%) travellers say they never buy insurance when they go abroad. Of the 91% who do insure their trips at some point before they travel, just over half say they shop around for a good deal using a comparison site, 25% are covered by their bank account, 12% purchase through their travel agent and 11% through their holiday company.
Gocompare.com, which commissioned the research, said Brits usually spend an average of £1,600 on their holiday while more than a quarter (26%) spend more than £2,000.
The comparison site also found that while the vast majority (97%) of the 580 policies it compares offer cancellation as standard, cover limits vary wildly from just £500 to unlimited cover, while a quarter offer discounts foe excluding cancellation cover.
Caroline Lloyd, spokesperson for Gocompare.com, added: "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 that 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."
She also pointed out that 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," she said.