If you only go abroad once a year, you would probably be ill-advised to take out the Independent Annual Holiday Insurance policy. Say your only plan for the coming 12 months was a two-week skiing trip to the Alps; you could pop down to Thomas Cook and buy insurance cover for pounds 40.60 per person. That way, you would save exactly pounds 1.40 over the cost of our annual policy.

The Independent Annual Holiday Insurance, arranged with General Accident, costs pounds 42 per person for Europe and covers a winter sports trip of up to 17 days. If you chose our policy, you would be insured not only for your skiing trip but also - at a cost of pounds 1.40 - for any other holiday taken in the year.

The likelihood is that you may be taking several trips this year. A week away in summer, say? Normal travel insurance for that will cost about pounds 25 per person. Perhaps a short city break on the continent? About pounds 12. A weekend cross-channel trip to bring back wine? Another pounds 10. Every time you go on holiday the insurance costs mount up - unless you have an annual policy. And, if you don't have annual cover, each holiday also involves the bother of arranging insurance cover for that trip.

As Simon Calder pointed out in last week's Independent Traveller, travel and ticket agents are always pleased to see holidaymakers buying insurance to go with their travel arrangements, because the commission on insurance is often greater than that on the holiday itself.

The Independent/General Accident policy provides cover for any number of holidays of up to 31 days' duration during the year. Two versions of the policy are available, one for Europe and one for worldwide cover; there are individual rates, and rates for a family of four.

Finally, if you have any doubts about paying for a whole year's insurance in advance, bear this in mind. Many travel insurance leaflets do not include prices. Why? Because the rates change twice a year. If insurance for a two-week skiing holiday costs pounds 40.60 now, that does not mean it will cost the same next winter. And will the rates go down in future? Oh, come on.

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