The Government has taken action on fraudulent holiday sickness claims that threatened to push up the cost of overseas package holidays for British holidaymakers.
Since 2013 there has been a 500% increase in claims for holiday sickness with people trying to recoup the costs of their holiday by fabricating illnesses while overseas or upon their return. While some of these claims were genuine, the scale of the problem was clearly exaggerated as hotel owners were reporting that it was only British holiday makers who claimed to be ill – not holiday makers from other countries who were staying in the same hotel at the same time. Some hotels therefore refused to accept British customers and the cost of compensation to claimants and increased insurance costs for the holiday companies was threatening to push up the costs of holidays for all holidaymakers. Some holidaymakers were being prompted to make claims by claims management companies. The issue had been likened to the increase in whiplash claims that resulted in car insurance premiums escalating.
The action the Government has taken will make it easier for tour operators and travel companies to challenge fraudulent holiday sickness claims as the legal costs they could incur will now be fixed. Costs will be prescribed on the basis of the value of the claim and the length of proceedings, whereas before the costs that tour operators could incur in challenging holiday sickness claims was uncontrolled. The Government had pledged to take action against fraudulent holiday sickness claims after a British couple was jailed for fraud in 2017 after trying to claim £20,000 in compensation from Thomas Cook.
Responding to the announcement, Mid Worcestershire MP Nigel Huddleston said: “I have been lobbying together with tourism industry bodies such as ABTA for action to tackle fraudulent holiday sickness claims for quite some time and I am delighted by this announcement. The reputational damage that British tourists and operators have suffered as a result of the recent rise in fraudulent claims could have led to rising costs for UK holidaymakers so I am especially pleased that these rule changes will be in effect in time for the summer holiday season.”