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Published on Wednesday, June 21, 2017

ABTA launches assault against bogus holiday sickness claims



ABTA has launched a new two-pronged political and consumer campaign to persuade the Government to crack down on bogus holiday sickness claims.

Its 'Stop Sickness Scams' campaign also warns holidaymakers of the consequences of making a false claim, which could include a fine. Also, it warns them of the risk of overseas hoteliers suing them for making false claims, as in the case of a Greek hotelier who is counter-suing a British couple for £170,000.

ABTA and its members have been working with the Ministry of Justice 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.

With a new Justice Secretary now in post and with claims management companies increasing marketing ahead of the main summer season, ABTA is stepping up its lobbying and consumer-facing activity.

A letter signed by ABTA Members presented to the new Justice Secretary David Lidington kick-started the campaign today.

The letter requests a meeting with the new Justice Secretary and reiterates the industry's call for the loophole in the law to be addressed, which would limit holiday claims to a fixed amount.

Next week, ABTA will also ask travel industry businesses and members of the public to email their MPs about the issue.

ABTA is also developing a shareable online tool to enable people to easily and quickly raise this issue with their local MP.

Alongside the lobbying arm of the campaign there will be multi-channel consumer activity, including a dedicated hub on abta.com and a digital advertising campaign directly targeting people considering making a claim.

ABTA is encouraging members to support the campaign on social media by sharing materials and using #StopSicknessScams to counteract what is says are the 'highly misleading advertising' of 'unscrupulous claims management companies', which are spending heavily on social and mainstream media ahead of the main summer season.

Campaign supporters include destination partners and ABTA members, including Thomas Cook, TUI, Monarch and Jet2 Holidays.

The campaign asks the public to:

- Report touts in resorts to hotel managers and/or tour operators.

- Warn other holidaymakers of touts and let friends and family know about the problem.

- Report companies who cold call to encourage false sickness claims to the Claims Management Regulator.

- Those aware of a fake holiday sickness claim, are asked to report it to Action Fraud

- Those who believe they have experienced food poisoning as a result of eating at their hotel, are advised to contact their hotel or tour operator immediately in resort. They are warned that claims companies will take a hefty slice of any compensation awarded.

- If holidaymakers aren't satisfied with the response from their travel company, they are advised to pursue their case through ABTA's independent Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme or through the small claims court.

ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer said: "I strongly urge everyone in the industry to get behind our 'Stop Sickness Scams' campaign. The public need to know the truth behind the highly misleading marketing tactics used by unscrupulous claims management companies whose activities are causing so much damage."

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  • Create a liability for the claims co

    If the issue is, 'poor under-educated dim-witted holiday-punters' being led astray by unscrupulous claims-scamsters, surely the only sensible solution is to create some liability for the claims companies? Right now, they're in a no-lose situation: - they win and get their cut of the profits or - they lose and get nothing but lose nothing. - Worst case scenario is it gets sussed as a scam and their hapless punter goes down leaving them free to carry on to the next mug.

    By ex Severn, Wednesday, June 21, 2017

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