British travelers planning to travel abroad this year to visit family and friends overseas holiday have been urged to take out full travel insurance before their departure. The advice came from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) after analyzing research that states one third of those traveling abroad do not take out any kind of travel insurance.

In 2011, about 12 million UK nationals will travel abroad to spend time with friends or family. FCO research however shows that only a minority will also get insured before leaving the country. The travel advice they have just issued is part of their  Know Before You Go campaign, which also stated young Britons traveling abroad are more likely to buy presents for their hosts than to spend that money on a travel insurance policy.

The FCO warns that not getting a comprehensive insurance policy does not really mean travelers save money, as they can be forced to spend a lot more if they need medical care or lose valuable possessions.

“With over five million Britons living abroad, people are increasingly making the most of opportunities to visit their loved ones across the world,” said Jeremy Browne, minister for consular affairs. “However, it’s important to understand that staying in someone’s home does not make you exempt from encountering serious problems. Take the same steps before you go as you would for any other holiday, such as taking out travel insurance and doing some pre-trip research, to ensure you are prepared if something does go wrong.”

While British travelers tend to believe a holiday spent with friends or relatives does not require the same level of preparation, almost 40% had to rely on their hots when something bad happened. British citizens living abroad have had to deal with guests’ issues, such as taking them to the hospital or providing financial help.

As the FCO explained, there are several cases when not having insurance translates into having to pay tens of thousands of US dollars to cover medical bills. Also, not taking the proper medical precautions, such as anti-malaria prescriptions, can lead to serious illness or even death.