PEOPLE taking out travel insurance have been warned that they may not be able to make a claim if they are on medication.
The warning came as travel companies launch massive advertising campaigns to get people to book now for summer holidays, and better-off families consider a winter break.
New research has found that half of those questioned were unaware that they may not be able to make a claim for expenses associated with an illness for which they were already taking prescribed medicine.
And four out of 10 people were not aware that they and family members may not be covered for an existing or pre-existing condition.
The survey, carried out for MultiTrip insurance from VHI, found that holiday medical expenses were one of the most common reasons that people make a claim.
The VHI said that 6,000 of its customers who took out travel insurance needed medical treatment in 2012.
More than 1,500 people needed to go into a hospital while abroad, and 400 had to be flown home to a hospital in Ireland.
And another insurer warned that cancelled holidays were the reason behind one in five of the claims it receives.
Getcover.ie said that people would be wise to take out travel insurance at the same time that they book a holiday.
Most people wait until a week or two weeks before they travel to buy insurance. But Arlene Tierney of Getcover.ie said this was often too late.
"If someone books a holiday in May, but is not actually travelling until August, then there is a period of over 90 days when something could go wrong and they may end up having to cancel the holiday," she said.
"In this situation, leaving it to the last minute to take out travel insurance will mean you may be uninsured if they have to cancel the holiday," Ms Tierney said.
She said that huge numbers of those who end up having to cancel a holiday had intended to take out a single-trip insurance policy, but had not got around to it by the time they were forced to cancel the trip.
Ms Tierney said taking out an annual travel insurance policy would get around this problem.
The VHI MultiTrip survey found that cancellations account for 66pc of all travel policy claims.
Medical expenses make up a quarter of claims, with loss of baggage accounting for 6pc of claims.