Many people, having already shelled out on flights and hotels, skip travel cover. According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 24% of travellers go overseas without insurance.
Falling ill abroad can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, and travel insurance needn't break the bank.
Our video guide explains how to find cheap travel insurance in a few simple steps.
Understand what travel insurance you need
The only way to make sure you are covered properly is to take account of your circumstances.
Among other things, travel insurance will cover you if you need to cancel your holiday or return early, help you get emergency medical treatment overseas, and will cover the cost of replacing your luggage if it goes missing or is stolen.
Calculate the cost of your holiday and the items you're taking with you. If you're only taking £1,000-worth of items with you and your holiday cost £5,000, you don’t need baggage cover of £5,000 and cancellation cover of £10,000.
Also, consider whether you need a single or annual-trip policy. Single-trip policies work out cheaper if you are taking one or two trips in the next 12 months, but if you are making three or more journeys, annual cover is your best bet.
Don’t buy cover at the last minute
One of the best features of travel insurance is that you can recoup the cost of the holiday if you have to cancel, with good reason, before you go. With that in mind, it is important to buy your insurance as soon as you book your holiday.
Leaving insurance to the last minute means you're not making the most of your cancellation protection, and you could be out of pocket if you no longer go.
Avoid cover sold with your trip
When you buy your holiday, whether through a traditional package provider or a budget airline, you're likely to be offered insurance at the point of purchase.
Cover offered as an add-on to your trip is unlikely to be tailored to your needs and could be more expensive. Always check the wider market to see if you can get better cover for less.
Check your bank account
Before you decide to buy travel insurance, make sure you haven’t already got it. Some packaged bank accounts come with travel insurance as a sweetener, so if you have a packaged account, check whether cover is included.
If you do have travel insurance with your bank account, check its terms carefully and make sure it meets your needs. Does it cover you for trips outside Europe?
Will it cover your medical conditions? If it doesn’t, call your bank to see if you can extend your policy or look for a standalone policy that meets your needs.
Declare your medical conditions
As well as ensuring you have the right limits for your luggage and potential cancellation, you must be properly covered if you're unfortunate enough to fall ill overseas.
Medical cover is especially important for those that have pre-existing conditions. Insurers will ask you about your medical history so they can set your premiums and cover you correctly.
Any conditions your insurer does not know about will not be covered, and you could end facing a massive medical bill if you fall ill abroad.
Find out more: Medical conditions travel insurance
Check the Which? Recommended Providers and cheap best-rate policies
Once you've booked your holiday, see our list of cheap and best-rate providers to help you find the right cover at the right price.
As part of our research, we review 200 insurers' standard policies and take the feedback from thousands of customers into account.
Talk to the specialists if you're still struggling to find cover
If you're struggling to find cover – for example, you have medical conditions that many providers won’t insure you for – the best thing to do is to speak to the specialists. Beware, however, as specialists can be more expensive.
Ask a broker for help
If you're still struggling to find cover contact the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) for advice. BIBA will put you in touch with a broker in your area who could help you find the insurance product you need.
Check your policy carefully
It might be tempting to buy travel insurance without looking at a lengthy policy document, but you should never take the risk; make sure that all the cover you need is listed in the policy.
If you have medical conditions, make sure they are included, and also check that the limits you want for cancellation and your baggage are also correct.
Travelling with inadequate insurance can leave you facing a nasty shock if you need to make a claim.
Remember your EHIC
An EHIC is a medical card that can be used throughout the EU, and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, which entitles you to treatment in state hospitals at the same price as the residents of the country you are visiting. So if they get free treatment, you get free treatment.
If you are travelling to Europe make sure you have it with you, as some insurers will waive the excess on a medical claim if you have an EHIC.
However, never assume an EHIC is a replacement for travel insurance.
As well as covering medical expenses, travel insurance will cover you if you need to cancel your holiday, return early, or if you have your luggage goes missing or is stolen, among many other things. In addition, some insurers will waive the excess on a medical claim if you have an EHIC.
Find out more: Using your EHIC abroad