As many as quarter of holidaymakers leave it until the last minute to buy travel insurance either on their way to or at the airport, new research reveals.

Nearly a tenth (9%) wait until they arrive in their destination to buy cover. However, their policies may not be valid as they did not buy them in the UK before their trip began.

The study released by Co-op Insurance found that the airport is where 16% of holidaymakers pick up travel insurance, with a further 9% buying on their way to the airport.

But 5% of holidaymakers admit to not bothering at all.

The poll of 2,000 people found that 59% suffered from flight delays, 26% had their aircraft break down before take off and 22% experienced lost luggage. Last minute accommodation changes affected 16% and 11% saw their flight being diverted.

Holidaymakers from the East Midlands (11%) and Wales (10%) are more likely not to take out insurance.

The most travel-savvy are those from the north-east and south-west where only 3% admit to travelling without insurance.

However, the majority (87%) of holidaymakers were found to have had something go wrong on their travels.

Worryingly, 17% of holidaymakers did not have insurance in place when the worst happened, potentially leaving thousands of people financially worse off, according to the study.

Colin Butler, Co-op head of travel insurance, said: “Buying travel insurance at the airport is not without risk. However, travelling without insurance is much worse and can turn a well-earned break into a nightmare in a matter of seconds.

“Nearly a tenth of holidaymakers have admitted to buying their policies when they reach their holiday destination. Whilst this is with the best of intentions, unfortunately they may find themselves without cover as policies generally should be taken out for a whole trip before you leave the UK.

“As our study has found, the majority of us have had something go wrong when traveling abroad. Whilst in many cases these can be minor issues if you are faced, for example, with a medical issue and no insurance this can quickly escalate into a major issue physically, mentally and financially.”