ABTA have highlighted an alarming trend of people making fake sickness claims against travel companies in order to receive compensation. The rise in claims for gastric-related illnesses, which are tyically made via UK Claims Management companies, have prompted ABTA to request the UK government to take action.
Officials from the Ministry of Justice have been alerted by evidence collected by ABTA that indicates an increase in travel-related activities made by British claims management companies, as a result of civil justice reforms in 2012. These reforms included measures which aimed at clamping down on fraudulent personal injury claims, but crucially they excluded events or incidents which occurred overseas; a move which appears to have allowed these claim management companies to focus on this area. Many of these companies fish for clients on social media.
This weekend, The Mail on Sunday have reported how a British holiday company has been fighting back. The company has reportedly hired private investigators to look into the activities of some of the claims managment companies.
The travel firm is reported to have used spies to catch a claims management company encouraging holidaymakers in Benidorm to make bogus allegations that they fell ill.
The newspaper didn’t name the travel company for legal reasons, but when their investigators visited the Sol Pelicanos Hotel in Benidorm (the actual hotel where Benidorm was filmed), it is alleged that they were approached by a representative of a claims company called “Sick By The Sea” who got chatting to them about the food in the hotel. He advised them thay by lying about being ill that they could claim up to £3000 in compenasation and that all they needed to do was visit a chemist, obtain diarrhorea treatments, take photographs of the drugs and then make a claim. This, despite the family telling him that they had not suffered any illness in the resort.
These claims are fuelled by the compensation culture in the UK and are to the detriment of the travel industry, which is why ABTA have chosen to highlight. It also casts a shadow over the people who do have genuine claims to make.
In Spain, Spanish hoteliers have last week reported a “huge increase” in the number of compensation claims for suppoed ailments from British holidaymakers. But they assert that there is no evidence to support many claims, which are estimated to cost more than €60 million. The investigation at the Sol Pelicanos Hotel came as a result of the hotel noticing the presence of compensation claim representatives and alerting the British holiday company to this.
One sobering thought for those who may consider making such claim; in Spain it is illegal to make false claims and the penalty can be 12 months in jail if convicted – perhaps that may cure the sickness bug?