13 Jul

ABTA welcomes Government’s move to crackdown on false holiday sickness claims

#StopSicknessScams campaign launches online videos warning holidaymakers of risks of making fraudulent claims

Following an announcement on Sunday 9 July that the Government will be taking action to tackle false sickness claims, ABTA is urging the industry to maintain momentum on the #StopSicknessScams campaign to ensure that change is made as quickly as possible to close the loophole in legislation that allows claims companies to unduly profit from sickness claims.

ABTA is calling on the travel industry, and its partners, to respond to the Government’s Call for Evidence, which is expected to be published soon.

Over the last year, ABTA and its Members have worked hard to present a body of evidence to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) showing that whilst claims have increased by over 500%, there has been no corresponding rise in reported levels of sickness in resorts. The Call for Evidence will build on this work and seek to gather further data and views. ABTA will also continue to work with Government to support long-term solutions to the problem, including further reforms to increase transparency in the relationship between claims firms and solicitors.

As part of its #StopSicknessScams campaign, during the summer ABTA will continue to warn holidaymakers that making a false or exaggerated claim is fraud, and that they could face up to three years in prison if found guilty. Earlier this week Thomas Cook won a case against a family who were ruled to have made a false sickness claim. The judge in that case found that there had been fundamental dishonesty and ordered the Claimants to pay a contribution to the tour operator’s costs.

ABTA is today releasing two new videos to highlight the risks of making a fraudulent sickness claim. ABTA will share the videos on social media and promote them using online advertising. Members and industry partners are encouraged to share the videos through their own social media channels.

ABTA’s #StopSicknessScams campaign, which launched in mid-June following many months of work by the Association and its Members, called on the Government to close a loophole in legislation that was introduced to help stop the surge in fraudulent “whiplash” claims, but which excludes overseas claims. Fake claims are threatening to increase the price, and reduce the range, of holidays on offer to honest holidaymakers and have tarnished the reputation of Britons abroad.

The Government’s response is the first step towards clamping down on bogus holiday sickness claims, and will place travel claims on an equal footing with personal injury claims in other sectors.  Rightly, consumers will retain the same legal rights to pursue their travel organiser where they have had a genuine illness or injury.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive, commented: “"We strongly welcome the Government’s commitment to address the loophole in the law, and urge that this happens as quickly as possible. The loophole is allowing claims companies to unduly profit from false claims. Though this is real progress, ABTA will continue to raise consumer awareness of the issue and work with Members on the campaign. Fake claims are tarnishing British holidaymakers’ reputation abroad and could lead to higher prices or less choice for honest holidaymakers. We will continue to work with Government to ensure that a long-term solution to this problem is found.”