FALSE CLAIMS: The new rules on holiday illness claims close a loophole in the UK travel industry. The loophole has fueled a rising number of bogus sickness claims in recent years.
In simple terms, new laws will fix the amount you can claim for legal costs in package holiday sickness claims.
It proved a costly exercise for many tour operators to challenge a claim.
In turn, this led to an excess in out of court settlements of many package holiday illness claims.
There is one main aim to the new measures on compensation. It is to curb the prospect of operators passing higher travel costs to British tourists.
A huge rise in claims has also tarnished the reputation of some Brits who travel overseas. But, the industry hopes to avoid passing on higher package holiday prices.
Government ministers have already approved the new laws. The cap on payouts will take full effect beginning from the summer holiday season. The Justice Minister pointed out:
- Making a false compensation claim for being sick on holiday is committing fraud.
- This spurious behaviour tarnishes the reputation of British people who travel abroad.
- It also results in higher costs for the travel industry and risks increasing the costs for British holidaymakers.
Note: The travel industry estimates the increase in claims could be as high as 500% in the last few years.
Unscrupulous Claims Management Companies
In the past, uncontrolled costs on holiday illness claims had two major affects. It discouraged tour operators from challenging some compensation claims through the UK courts. It also encouraged some of the less honest claims management companies into unscrupulous activities.
It was not uncommon for some companies to encourage tourists into pursuing holiday sickness compensation. In fact, reports suggest some of them had touts operating in European resorts.
Ministers sought a solution through the Civil Procedure Rule Committee. The body sets the rules on legal costs in the United Kingdom.
The result brings package holiday claims within the fixed recoverable costs regime. This means tour operators pay prescribed costs – instead of uncontrolled payouts.
The actual amount will depend on the value of the claim and the length of any proceedings. But, it makes defence costs predictable. This also helps tour operators challenge any false or spurious package holiday sickness claims.
Tackling a Culture of Compensation Claims
The Government already announced their commitment to tackling a so called ‘compensation culture’. As part of this they recently introduced a Civil Liability Bill. The new laws include measures to reduce the high number of whiplash injury claims.
Further reforms target cold calling and a tougher stance and regulation towards claims management companies.
Association of British Travel Agents Reports
ABTA is the Association of British Travel Agents. They reported an alarming 500 per cent increase in holiday illness claims. Figures show around 5,000 claims in 2013 rose to a staggering 35,000 in 2016.
These statistics become even more significant after the travel industry data report on the global trend for reported incidence of illness in resorts. In recent years the number of claims have actually declined.
Note: Several tour operators made successful private prosecutions against false package holiday sickness claims. It resulted in sentences or court orders to pay significant legal costs.
How to Make a Genuine Claim for Holiday Sickness
It is not uncommon for holidaymakers to suffer sickness while on an overseas package holiday. A typical example might include food poisoning after eating a dodgy meal in the hotel.
In this case, if you have a genuine claim for sickness you should:
- Report the details about the illness to the holiday representative.
- Make sure they make a written record of the complaint (ask them to give you a copy of the report).
- Get a copy of the doctor’s record after seeking medical attention.
- Keep all the receipts if you need to buy medication or pay for taxi fares as part of seeking medical advice.
- Exchange names and addresses with any other holidaymakers in the same hotel if they also suffered from the same or a similar illness.
Note: Making a package holiday sickness claim is much like making any other personal injury claim. It will only be successful if there is proof that an individual suffered as a result of negligence. It is also worth noting that solicitors only receive costs if the claim succeeds.
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