A spate of dodgy insurance claims for holiday sickness could mean British holidaymakers end up paying more for their all-inclusive deal; or find themselves banned from certain resorts altogether.
Claims from people who say then have fallen ill on holiday have increased by over 500% over the past three years. Yet over this same period, the number of people who have reported cases of sickness whilst on holiday has remained stable. There’s evidence to suggest that many of these claims are either exaggerated or invented and this dramatic increase seems to be unique to British tourists who are falling prey to unscrupulous Claims Management Companies (CMCs).
CMCs specialise in making financial services claims – think PPI, credit cards and loan agreements. And the reason why CMCs are so eager to persuade unwitting sunseekers to make claims is because they get around 25% of any compensation received. The situation is worsening, with one Majorcan hotel group left facing bills of £42 million in 2016.
CMCs were also part of the rise in false whiplash cases, which blighted the car insurance industry for years. Just as bogus or overblown whiplash claims contributed to the increasing cost of car insurance, the same is likely to happen with the cost of holidays, as travel groups try to recoup or absorb potential losses.
But angry hoteliers are fighting back and have threatened to stop offering tour operators all-inclusive packages for the British public. In one high-profile incident, a Greek hotel is counter-suing a British couple to the tune of £170,000 with evidence that shows the couple lied about their sickness claim.
But it’s not just the threat of increasing holiday costs. Making a false or exaggerated claim is insurance fraud and an offence. You could find yourself paying hefty fines and you might even end up with a criminal record.
Penalties in popular holiday destinations targeted by fake claims are even harsher. In Spain, for example, anyone found guilty of making a fraudulent insurance claim could end up behind bars for three years, and there’s little or no opportunity for suspended sentences.
Of course, not all holiday sickness claims are fake, but the sad side effect is that many more claims made by Brits who’ve been abroad will be scrutinised. Travel association ABTA advises holidaymakers who are genuinely ill to tell hotel staff and their tour operator as soon as possible. Help will be given and staff can try to locate the source of the sickness and prevent others from falling ill. If you decide to make a claim, the advice is to go directly to your tour operator.
The prospect of getting ill on holiday isn’t much fun, but if it did happen, it’s good to know that you have a safety net in place. That’s why you should always tick off travel insurance on your holiday checklist. It’s not just there to compensate you for lost luggage and cancelled holidays, travel cover can ensure that if you do get sick and need to return to the UK, you’ll be able to do so. Don’t leave home without it.