Updates

    Has someone approached you on social media asking if you have been on an all-inclusive holiday in the last three years? Have you been cold called by a company claiming that if you have fallen ill on an overseas holiday you may be “entitled” to thousands of pounds in compensation?

    If the answer is yes, the company probably then went on to claim that the travel industry or even the Government, has set aside a fund to compensate customers who have fallen ill on an overseas holiday.

    On the face of it, this might look like a very tempting offer. However, there are some rather shocking facts behind the claims made by these companies whose activities could have serious consequences on the cost and types of overseas holidays available for UK holidaymakers. They are also having a very damaging effect on the reputation of UK holidaymakers overseas.

    So what are the facts behind these Holiday sickness claims?

    Firstly, there is no “fund” that has been set up to compensate customers; secondly, the reason why these companies want you to claim is because they will generally take 25% of any award you might get, the legal firms they work with will also get paid thousands of pounds in fees.

    Many of these companies were active in encouraging false “whiplash” claims, which have put everyone’s car insurance premiums up. Due to changes in the law made three years ago, the amounts their lawyers can charge were severely restricted, so they went looking for another area to target and found one - overseas package holidays, particularly all-inclusives.

    What to look out for and be aware of!

    These rogue claims management companies are often very unscrupulous, they will coach people into what to say to make a successful claim, in effect to lie. However, if you follow this advice you need to be aware that putting in an exaggerated or bogus sickness claim is a form of fraud. You would be committing a crime, which could lead to prosecution in both the UK, and the country where you took the holiday.

    Prosecution is a very real possibility with hotels, tour operators and the police working together to stamp out this problem. Private detectives and undercover journalists are also active in resort with customers committing fraudulent claims named and shamed in the national press.

    The total amount of money paid out in claims and legal fees is substantial and it is growing. ABTA Members have seen the number of claims go up by over 500% in the last three years, one by a staggering 1000%. The money paying these claims comes out of the pockets of tour operators, insurance companies and hotels.

    The Effects of these Bogus Claims

    If these bogus claims do not stop, they will push up holiday prices for everyone, just as whiplash did to car insurance premiums. The problem is so serious that some hotels are reconsidering accepting any British guests. They say that other nationalities are not making these claims. Other hotels are considering whether they will continue to offer all-inclusive holidays to British people.

    So please do not be tempted by these companies’ offers of easy money.

    If you do legitimately fall ill on holiday, let your travel company and the hotel management know straight away. They will help you get medical assistance immediately, which is essential for your health and others staying in the hotel; food poisoning can be very serious with long-term consequences if not properly treated.

    Finally, if you want to claim compensation, do it directly with your tour operator or if you are not happy with their offer, use the ABTA's voluntary concilliation scheme or the small claims court. That way you will receive the full amount of any compensation awarded and will not be putting large sums of money into the pockets of claims companies and their lawyers.