Nearly half of all holidaymakers think travel agents overcharge for insurance, an exclusive TNS Travel and Tourism survey for Travel Weekly has shown.

Of the 2,050 people questioned, 44% agreed that travel insurance is always more expensive when purchased through an agent.

However, 31% of those people also said they bought their policies through travel agents because this was more convenient.

The findings come as fears grow that many agents will give up selling travel insurance rather than register with the Financial Services Authority, as required by a Treasury ruling.

The TNS survey confirmed Association of British Insurers figures showing 15% of Britons travel abroad each year without insurance.

However, the survey suggests the proportion of uninsured holidaymakers could rise to 29% when domestic holidays are included, and to 35% among travellers aged under 35.

Following the Treasury review, agents will only be allowed to sell travel insurance if registered with the FSA or appointed to sell through an FSA-registered company.

The new regime will come into effect in January 2009, with consultation already under way to determine the level of regulation.

TNS head of travel and tourism Tom Costley expressed surprise at the survey’s finding that so many people think agents’ insurance is expensive.

He said: “People booking holidays with an agent clearly are not too worried about paying a bit extra for the convenience. It is interesting that 36% said cover was more important than cost.”

The survey found that only 17% of people buy their travel insurance from the company that provides their home or motor policies.

Costley said: “This represents a huge missed opportunity among these providers. Either people are not aware other insurance providers sell travel policies or those companies are not interested in selling it.”