By Vicky Anscombe on 03 December 2014

It's all very well buying travel insurance - but if you don't know what it covers, you could be in trouble.

We've been working with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) to remind our customers of the importance of keeping up to date with travel advice and understanding what their travel insurance will cover, particularly with winter holidays fast approaching.

For example, did you know that the majority of travel insurers have exclusions in place for claims arising from travel to a country against FCO advice?

If you have any doubts at all about whether you should travel, it's your responsibility to contact your insurer to ask about any possible issues - they won't come to you. Your interpretation of FCO advice may differ to theirs; your trip may be 'essential', but they may not see it that way.

If the FCO are advising against travel to a country, then many travel insurers will withdraw sale of single trip policies for those countries. However, this gets tricky when the FCO advises against travel to a certain region within a country; it does not change the fact that cover will not apply if you travel to that region.

If you have an annual policy, your insurer is probably unaware of your travel plans, so cannot manage or advise on any travel restrictions as they can with the purchase of a single trip policy.

It's a good idea to always stay aware of FCO travel advice, as an insurance exclusion will apply regardless of when the policy was purchased.

The 'Know Before You Go' page on the GOV.UK website and FCO Facebook and Twitter pages will give you the most up to date information and guidance on a range of factors that could affect your holiday.

In certain cases it may advise against travel to a country, or particular region, where threats such as civil unrest, terrorism or natural disasters are immediately present. However, this only happens when it considers the associated risk to British nationals to be 'unacceptably high'.

There are currently approximately 60 FCO warnings in place, the majority of which only restrict travel to certain regions of countries.

Popular destinations such as Egypt, Turkey, Thailand and the Philippines all have areas that the FCO advise against travel to, so if you're not travelling there, you can relax. However, it's good practice to get into the habit of checking the FCO website before you travel, and being aware of any developments before you set off.

The FCO and ABI have recently launched a Travel Insurance Awareness campaign. Click here to read more

The FCO has some excellent reasons for taking out travel insurance. You can read them here


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