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Should you buy travel insurance at the airport?

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

Insurer AXA has installed self-service kiosks selling last-minute travel insurance in seven UK airports.

Customers can buy annual and single trip policies for individuals and families or groups, with kiosks currently available at Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, Manchester, Birmingham, East Midlands and Newcastle airports.

AXA says travellers can buy their insurance policies in just two minutes.

But is buying insurance at the airport a risky move?

Nearly 10 million people a year travel abroad without the correct insurance or with no insurance at all, according to figures from ABTA, so having some cover is better than having none at all.

But waiting until the last minute has its downsides.

A big negative is you won’t have any cancellation cover so if you need to cancel your trip for any reason – a family illness or bereavement, for example – you could end up losing all your money. The advice for holidaymakers is to always buy travel cover as soon as you’ve booked your trip.

The other issue is the policy you buy at the airport might not be the best policy for you. This is particularly important if you have a serious or pre-existing medical condition as you might get better cover – and a cheaper deal – through a specialist insurer.

The new kiosks sell AXA policies only – not even policies from AXA subsidiaries. So you won’t be able to shop around to know if you’re getting the best policy for you at the most competitive price.

Fiona Macrae from travelinsuranceexplained.co.uk said: “We would urge people to buy travel insurance when they first book their trip, taking time to choose a policy that best suits their needs and type of trip they are taking, rather than treating it as a last minute tick box exercise at the airport.

“That way they can ensure that should they need to make a claim on their policy, which is the reason they bought it in the first place, the claim will be paid.”

AXA isn’t the first insurer to venture into self-service kiosks. Columbus Direct rolled them out in UK airports in 2015 but the insurer would not comment on their popularity or whether any kiosks were still functioning.

Related: Five things to check when buying travel insurance