Consumer: Insure yourself earlier to avoid the holiday blues

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Thousands of Yorkshire families will be thinking of booking their summer vacation this week, the latter part of January traditionally being the busiest for those wishing to combat the winter blues.

However, holidaymakers are being warned not to leave arranging their travel insurance to the last minute, or they risk losing some valuable additional cover.

Most travellers would probably say their main reason for buying travel insurance is for the medical cover or to protect their luggage. But it can also provide protection against events affecting you before you even leave your home.

Around 34 per cent of travel insurance claims made by UK holidaymakers in 2012 were for costs related to cancellations, with an average claim value of around £700, second only to the average medical costs claim of £900.

Research by GoCompare.com has found that cancellation cover is standard on 96 per cent of the 452 single trip travel insurance policies surveyed, with some comprehensive policies covering up to £10,000, and some offering unlimited cover per insured person. Cancellation cover would allow the holidaymaker to reclaim the costs of their holiday, up to the cover limit and minus any excess, should certain circumstances arise before taking the trip. These may include a serious illness or injury affecting someone in the travelling party or a close relative who isn’t travelling but with whom they would like to remain at home. Even having a major incident such as a serious fire or flood at home, or unexpected jury service, may be covered.

Caroline Lloyd, travel insurance expert at Gocompare.com, said: “Holidaymakers cannot insure themselves against an event taking place or circumstances arising which they were already aware of. If a family member becomes seriously ill in the lead-up to your holiday you cannot then take out travel insurance with the intention of cancelling your trip. Likewise you cannot hear about potential serious disruption to your travel plans.

“So, even though it may be several months from when you book your holiday to when you actually travel, it’s a good idea to take out your travel cover soon after you book your holiday.

“That way you’ll benefit from any cancellation cover as soon as you buy it, giving you several months of valuable protection in the lead-up to your trip rather than just the week or two of your actual holiday if you leave it late. It’s a false economy to delay arranging your travel insurance.”

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