Many British holidaymakers purchase travel insurance before they go away, assuming that their policy will cover every eventuality that could affect their trip.

Yet travel insurance policies are not usually this straightforward – many common scenarios are left uncovered, and consumers are not always aware of this until it comes to making a claim.

The financial ombudsman service receives regular complaints from insurance customers who have been refused a payout from their provider due to misunderstanding of their policy.

The service wants to educate consumers about the complexity of travel insurance, and urges the public to do their research before signing up to a policy.

According to the financial ombudsman website: “For many customers, travel insurance may be the most complex financial product they purchase during the year. But it is often seen as just an add-on to a holiday.

“Travel policies are far from straightforward, as they cover a wider range of risks than any other type of insurance. Many circumstances are excluded by insurers. Policies usually include a list of the situations when the policyholder can claim, but it is usually quite limited.”

While it can be difficult to think of every eventuality that might affect your holiday, it’s worth making a list of the most likely scenarios that could lead to you making an insurance claim, and checking with your provider that such situations are covered under the policy you are paying for.

Common reasons to make a travel insurance claim include holiday cancellations due to ill health, medical expenses and lost or delayed luggage.

Those with pre-existing medical issues should be particularly wary when purchasing travel insurance; insurers sometimes refuse claims for holidays that have been cancelled due to a long-term health condition. To avoid this, be sure to check with your provider that they understand your condition, and ask if they will be willing to pay out if ill health affects your trip from going ahead.

Finally, insurance customers should not feel pressured into buying ‘optional extras’ when purchasing travel insurance. While add-ons such as winter sports cover or business cover may be suitable for some, these aspects of cover are not necessary for the majority of travellers.

Instead, focus on the essential areas of cover that you and your family would expect to be paid by your insurance company. Take care and attention when selecting your policy, and you’ll be able to enjoy your holiday in the knowledge that you’ve prepared for every ‘what if’ scenario before your trip begins.