Read the small print

Whichever policy you choose, you need to read the small print carefully to check that youíre covered. If youíre planning a winter skiing trip, check that your insurance covers you if the slopes are green rather than white.

Average temperatures in the Alps have risen by 1 degree C in the last decade, yet only half of policies provide this 'no-snow' cover as standard.

And while those credit card offers that drop onto the doormat promise free holiday cover, read the terms carefully.

They could just be offering travel accident insurance, which is not comprehensive. If youíre doing something slightly out of the ordinary - like scuba diving in the Red Sea rather than just slobbing on a lounger by a swimming pool in Spain - chances are that these policies won't cover you.

Buying travel insurance is fraught with problems, so take a deep breath, take the plunge and read the small print. Or ask awkward questions. And, whatever you do, donít leave home without it.