The banking venture part-owned by UK grocery chain J Sainsbury has revealed that more than four million foreign holidays were cancelled by Britons over the past three years.

The statistic is the dramatic headline to a survey commissioned as part of a campaign by Sainsbury Bank to promote its travel insurance.

Since 2003, around 4.14 million people have had to cancel overseas holidays, according to the bank. Many of these will have been booked and paid for but given that around 13% of people don’t take out travel insurance when going abroad, many will not have been financially reimbursed for their aborted plans, Sainsbury’s Bank reveals.

Robert O’May, travel insurance manager at Sainsbury’s Bank, said: People make significant investments in their holidays, but can often overlook the fact that things can go wrong while they are away or that they may have to cancel them. This makes the fact that so many people travel abroad without insurance all the more alarming.