Published on Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Firm has licence removed for encouraging false holiday sickness claims

A firm that pressured holidaymakers into making false sickness claims has had its licence taken away.

An investigation by officers at the Claims Management Regulator (CMR) found Lancashire-based Allsure had encouraged people to fabricate or embellish symptoms of gastric illness to get compensation.

Further evidence showed the firm had tried to entice customers by using 'deceptive sales scripts' which exaggerated expected pay-outs.

Allsure, based in Preston, had been operating in the personal injury claims sector since April 2014.

CMR head Kevin Rousell said: "We will take firm action against claims businesses which engage in serious misconduct. Seeking to encourage false claims will not be tolerated."

It is the latest in a series of moves by the UK Government to crackdown on fake sickness claims, following concerns from the travel industry of a surge in claims by British holidaymakers.

ABTA said it was pleased action had been taken by the CMR.

"We hope their investigations will result in similar action against other firms who are doing the same," said a spokeswoman.

Today, ABTA issued a warning to millions of families returning from their summer holidays not to be taken in by 'unscrupulous' claims firms.

Ramping up its 'Stop Sickness Scams' campaign launched in June, it is urging holidaymakers to report claims firms who either cold-call them or bombard them with ads or targeted messages on social media and encourage them to make false claims when they get back home.

"These firms tell holidaymakers there is no risk involved but this is not true: the potential penalties for making a fraudulent claim are extremely serious and may include hefty fines, a criminal record and potential imprisonment either in the UK or in the destination where they took their holiday," said ABTA.

It said holiday companies are fighting back against the 'deluge' of claims they have received. "With a number of UK holidaymakers facing prosecution claims or being ordered to pay costs, people are beginning to realise this is a crime which is likely to push up holiday prices for everyone in the long run."

ABTA cited the case of one holidaymaker, Tracey Krieger from northwest London, who claimed to have been cold-called by companies asking if she was sick while on holiday and encouraging her to make a compensation claim.

"I even get messages and adverts on my Facebook page - it is getting to be just like whiplash and PPI," she said.

"It really annoys me that these companies can get away with this, it is dishonest and we will all end up losing out as this will cause holiday prices to rise.

"It is unfair that honest British holidaymakers are being penalised by dishonest people making nonsensical claims for 'sickness'.~ I don't want to be tarred with the same brush just because I am a British holidaymaker. Most of us are very honest - these claims firms need to be taken to task and this unscrupulous practice has to stop."

ABTA said such firms often claim that the Government or travel company has set a pot of money aside for sickness claims, but it said this was false.

"There is no such pot and it is illegal to make a fraudulent claim. Last year, in Spain alone, the cost to Majorcan hotels was £42 million.

"Since 2013, there has been more than a 500% increase in the number of compensation claims for holiday sickness by British holidaymakers, with tens of thousands of claims in the past year.

"Yet during the same period, reported sickness levels in resorts have remained stable and the problem is associated only with UK holidaymakers."

ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer added: "Holidaymakers need to understand that making a fraudulent claim will have consequences. People tempted to fabricate holiday sickness in order to make a claim, should be aware that this is a crime and that they risk ending up in jail either in the UK or abroad.

"People should be very wary of any company that approaches them and encourages them to make a dishonest or exaggerated claim. Whatever a claims firm might say, fake claims are fraud."

ABTA launched its 'Stop Sickness Scams' campaign with the support of its members and travel industry partners, and called on the Government to crackdown on fake holiday sickness claims.

In early July, the Government committed to address urgently the loophole in the law which allows companies to profit unduly from false claims.

ABTA is advising the public to report any cold-calling company encouraging them to submit a false claim to the Claims Management Regulator and to report false claims to Action Fraud.

It is also asking holidaymakers to report touts in resort to their hotel manager or tour operators and to warn other holidaymakers about the touts.

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