More than half of holidaymakers purchase travel insurance in the week before their departure, even though this means missing out on the benefits of cancellation cover.
Research by price comparison website Go Compare shows that 58% of all policies are bought less than a week before departure. More than a fifth of people (27%) arranged their cover on the day of departure itself.
These last-minute buyers are risking having their holidays ruined by a cancellation taking place before they’ve bought a policy.
Reasons for a needing a cancellation can include serious illness or injury, a fire or flood at home or even being called up to jury service.
Yet despite these risks just 15% of travel insurance policies were purchased more than a month before departure.
Figures from the Association of British Insurers show around a third of travel insurance claims made by UK holidaymakers related to cancellations. It says during 2015 insurers paid out £128m to 160,000 customers - an average of around £800 per claimant.
“Holidaymakers not thinking about the risks”
Alex Edwards from Go Compare says: “Most people book their holidays well in advance of travelling and they’re often committing a significant amount of money, especially if long haul flights are involved.
“Having to cancel the trip for personal reasons could see them losing thousands of pounds if they don’t have the benefit of cancellation cover.
"Unfortunately, our research has revealed that more than half of UK holidaymakers are either making a huge assumption that only something which happens within a week of their holiday will cause them to cancel it, or they’re just not thinking about the risks at all.”