Without travel insurance you could be left out of pocket if anything unfortunate happens on holiday, like your belongings being stolen or needing urgent medical care. So we recommend buying a policy, even if you leave it until the last minute.
Ideally, the best time to buy travel insurance is when you book your holiday. You need to do it well ahead of time if:
Booking your travel insurance ahead of time means you’ll be covered for any delays or cancellations.
Without it, you couldn’t claim compensation for cancelled accommodation, flights or any booked excursions.
While it’s best to try and book early, you can buy travel insurance with us the same day you leave for your trip if needed.
You can buy a travel insurance policy even when you’re at the airport about to board the plane.
Most insurers, including us, offer travel insurance policies until you have gone through customs at the airport.
We can’t provide post-departure policies – once you’ve entered the country or are halfway through your trip.
This means you’d still be covered for the important stuff like medical care, repatriation and lost baggage, but a last-minute policy doesn’t usually include cancellation cover.
Read our guide on holiday cancellation cover.
Your cover usually starts the day you buy your policy or leave for your trip. This might be the same day.
With same-day travel insurance, there could be a delay of 24 hours before your policy begins, and you’d be able to claim if you needed to.
A Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or the old European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) are good to have when travelling anywhere in Europe but are not stand-ins for travel insurance.
You still need a travel insurance policy to be fully covered for emergency or non-emergency medical treatment and other incidents like theft of belongings or lost baggage.
The GHIC/EHIC is also not valid if you travel to any country outside of Europe.
Read our guide on the GHIC/EHIC card.
We recommend getting annual insurance if you travel frequently or just have two or more trips booked this year.
Annual insurance covers you for every holiday you take in a year up to 31 days at a time.
This means that once you’ve bought your policy, you won’t have any last-minute panics for a year at least.
It also means you’ll have full cancellation cover for the year if you have to cancel or delay a trip for any reason.