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Although the Government has rejected regulating the travel insurance industry, the Consumers' Association says research into the way such insurance is sold has uncovered some startling results.

Their investigators found extensive evidence of mis-selling, which, it says, highlights the need for industry regulation to ensure consumers are protected regardless of where they buy their travel insurance.

Researchers called on travel agents to buy insurance, and found that just one out of 28 travel agents checked customers for pre-existing medical conditions, as well as explaining what the policy did - and did not - cover.

So what are the alternatives to taking the policy your travel agent offers? Competition in the travel insurance market is fierce these days, as supermarkets, building societies and internet sources vie to offer the best deals.