As many as 5.2 million people are expected to book holidays this month – but the majority fail to consider financial protection, new research by Atol found.

This Saturday (January 5) – dubbed ‘Sunshine Saturday’ – will kick start a month of peak holiday booking.

The price of the getaway is still the number one factor when booking holidays, with 35% admitting they are looking to grab a bargain by booking their next holiday early.

Another quarter (26%) say they are looking forward to sunshine and hot weather after dreary winter weather.

But seven out of ten (69%) of those surveyed admitted they do not always seek financial protection for their holidays, putting themselves at risk of being out of pocket if their airline or travel company goes out of business.

Andy Cohen, head of the Civil Aviation Authority’s Atol protection scheme, said: “January traditionally sees Brits rushing to book their summer holiday, with Sunshine Saturday still expected to be one of the busiest booking days of the year.

“However, with consumers taking advantage of holiday bargains and booking quickly, many are missing out on financial protection.

“If you are booking a package holiday, make sure you check for the Atol logo to ensure you are protected.”

A series of tips for consumers on how best to ensure financial protection has been issued:

1. Check for ATOL protection: Look for the logo on your travel company’s website, brochure or shop front.
2. Pay on credit card: If you are not booking a package holiday, always pay for your trip with a credit card. By doing this you will be protected for up to £30,000 under section 75 of the UK Consumer Credit Act.
3. Watch out for hidden costs: Use a foreign currency pre-payment card to avoid high transactions and bank fees. Make sure you also check the airport and resort fees, such as baggage allowance and hotel transfers, to avoid any surprises.
4. Check financial protection if booking with foreign-based travel companies: There are some foreign-based travel companies which offer holidays to UK tourists, but these will often not be ATOL protected. Do your research and check what financial protection they provide.
5. Get travel insurance as soon as you book: You should consider taking out a policy as soon as you’ve booked your trip to ensure you’re covered should anything go wrong before you take off.