According to a recent study, 46 per cent of all travellers believe a travel insurance policy only begins once their holiday starts and are unaware of the benefits of booking travel insurance early.

According to Richard Warburton, Chief Operating Officer of 1Cover Travel Insurance, it should actually be one of the first things people book when planning their next holiday.

“Waiting to book travel insurance until just before you depart is an easy mistake made by many. But it’s one that can end up costing thousands if plans go awry in the lead up to the trip. As soon as you’ve locked in the travel dates, you should be booking travel insurance,” Warburton said. “There’s no extra cost for booking early, yet you’re covered for so much more than just that period of time you are on holidays.”

1Cover’s study revealed that 12 per cent of Australian travellers claimed for cancellation costs in the last year.

“Recently, 1Cover helped a family who, due to illness, was forced to cancel their entire trip to the USA a few weeks out from their departure date. Without travel insurance, they would have been out of pocket tens of thousands of dollars.”

So, why are people putting off booking? There are numerous reasons, Warburton said. “A lot of people just aren’t aware of the benefits of booking early. There’s also a perception that travel insurance is expensive. The truth is, travel insurance is likely to be one of the cheapest items you’ll book when going on a trip.”

So, what advice does Warburton have for travellers looking to buy travel insurance? “Firstly, go with a provider you can trust,” Warburton said. “Don’t simply focus on price; the test of a good travel insurer is one that has a first-class 24-hour emergency assistance and claims team based in Australia, one that you’re able to rely upon if you’re ever in trouble.

“Secondly, understand your cover, and ensure it’s the right policy for you. Think about the types of activities you’ll be doing while you’re on holidays, where you’ll be going, what you’ll be taking with you, as well as your own personal situation and health conditions. It’s so important to read and understand the policy terms and exclusions, and ensure that policy is the right one for you.”