27 Jun

ABTA launches MP lobbying tool as part of ‘Stop Sickness Scams’ campaign

As part of its ‘Stop Sickness Scams’ campaign, ABTA has today launched a tool for travel industry businesses and members of the public to email their local MP, urging MPs to support the campaign and to take action against the growing problem of fraudulent sickness claims.

By visiting www.stopsicknessscams.com, people will be able to easily and quickly raise this issue with their MP. All they need to do is enter their postcode to find their local MP on the website, and they can email them directly from the site using a pre-prepared email template. There are two emails available, one for travel industry employees and business owners and one for members of the public. Travel companies are being asked to encourage their staff, suppliers, customers, friends and family to use the tool and to contact their MP.

The emails will ask individual MPs to write to Justice Secretary, David Lidington MP asking him to close the claims loophole that encourages claims management companies (CMCs) to target the travel industry. They explain how the situation has now reached a critical point, and unless tackled there will be serious consequences; holiday prices could increase, and choice for honest holidaymakers could be reduced as hoteliers refuse to offer their products to the UK market.

To close the claims loophole the campaign is calling for a simple amendment to court rules, to enable holiday sickness claims to be included in a fixed costs regime, which will reduce the incentive for CMCs to bring these cases. This approach should be implemented quickly and would begin to reduce the problem of spurious or exaggerated sickness claims immediately.

ABTA and its Members have been working with Ministry of Justice officials for several months, sharing claims data and asking for regulatory change to address the loophole that has left travel companies vulnerable to spurious sickness claims. ABTA hopes that with support from the industry and members of the public, individual MPs will support the campaign and join the industry in lobbying the Ministry of Justice.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA CEO said: “It is essential that the Ministry of Justice takes action to close the claims loophole and stop sickness scams. We have already seen the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson MP, speak out on this issue of fake claims and it is encouraging to see the new Government commit to tightening the regulation of claims companies in the Queen’s Speech. The Government’s proposals are a step in the right direction for addressing Britain’s compensation culture, however, they are not enough in themselves. More urgently for the travel industry, we need the Government to address the exclusion of overseas claims from a fixed costs regime and I would strongly urge everyone in the industry to use this simple tool to contact their local MP and add their voice to the campaign.”