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When should I buy travel insurance?

Here are some of our MPO top tips about when to buy travel insurance for your next big trip

A photo of Grace Lynch, the author

By Grace Lynch

Published on: 2 May 2023

4 min read

Travel insurance is extremely valuable and can make a huge difference if something was to happen on or before your holiday. It can provide financial compensation if your flights were cancelled or you lost a personal possession of value.

Travel insurance can protect you and prevent loss of hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

Should I buy travel insurance?

Whether you buy travel insurance is down to personal choice, but we would certainly recommend it.

Life can be unpredictable, and you never know if something might happen that will affect your holiday – and potentially cost you a lot of money. Travel insurance helps to protect you against unexpected events such as losing your luggage or other personal belongings or your flights being cancelled. It can also help cover costs of medical treatment if you fall ill, saving you from relying on your own money or credit cards.

There are two types of travel insurance to choose from:

  • Single trip travel insurance: If you’re only travelling every now and then it can be more cost-effective to buy a policy each time you book a trip.
  • Annual travel insurance: You can purchase travel insurance that will cover multiple trips within the space of 12 months, useful for frequent travellers.

How far in advance should I buy travel insurance?

With many insurers, you can buy travel insurance anywhere up to 18 months before heading off on your holiday. If you have a big trip planned far in advance e.g. a honeymoon, it can be worth getting cover straight away.

Should I buy travel insurance before booking flights?

The best rule of thumb is to buy travel insurance once you have made a financial commitment to the holiday. This helps you to avoid losing all the money you have spent if anything goes wrong.

This could be after booking flights or a hotel, possibly both if buying a package holiday. If you haven’t booked your flights yet but your hotel is booked, you could choose to buy travel insurance. You might prefer though to buy your cover once your flights are booked too.

You might also not be flying to your holiday destination. You can buy travel insurance to cover trips such as:

  • UK based breaks (staycations)
  • Cruise cover
  • Winter sports cover

Sometimes you will be given the option to add on travel insurance when you book your flights for a small extra cost. While this may seem like a quick and easy solution, you need to remember not all travel insurance policies are the same.

For example, if you have a pre-existing medical condition (e.g. diabetes), you might not get enough cover from a basic insurance plan included with your flights. What is easiest or cheapest might not work out best in the long run. It would be less than ideal to be faced with emergency medical costs only to find out your insurance doesn’t cover you for medical expenses.

Even if you have no health issues, shopping around is always a better idea when it comes to insurance. You might find another insurer with the same level of cover (or more) for a better price by simply comparing a few options first.

More on this topic:

How much cover you need can really vary depending on each person – but there are a few things you should consider before deciding on your budget:

  • Are you taking anything expensive with you? E.g. phone, camera, laptop
  • Do you have any medical conditions that could lead to needing treatment while you are away?
  • How long are you going away for?
  • Where are you travelling to?
  • How much have you paid for your holiday?

Thinking about all these things can help you estimate how much money you could possibly lose if something was to go wrong. For example if the airline went on strike, you could lose out on money spent without cancellation cover included in your policy.

You want to make sure to have enough cover in place that you won’t be stuck in financial trouble if you need to replace an expensive item or pay for medication.

What travel insurance should I buy?

There are a range of different options available for travel insurance, which can make it tricky to know what will work best for you.

It is a good idea to do some research and compare travel insurance prices before choosing your policy. If you’re not sure how much cover you need or where to look, it can be helpful to speak to a travel insurance specialist.

When deciding on your policy or provider it is a good idea to:

  1. Read customer reviews from a trusted source online e.g. Trust Pilot
  2. Get recommendations from family members or friends
  3. Find out if you already have access to travel insurance (e.g. through your bank) and assess if this is enough cover for what you need
  4. Consider how comprehensive the travel insurance needs to be (you may need more cover if you have medical conditions for example)


Civil Aviation Authority – UK Airline data

Finder – Travel insurance statistics

Statista – Travel insurance claims paid by type in the UK

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