United Kingdom announces new measures to curb false claims by tourists

Claims have soared up to 500% in recent years, according to British agencies

The British Government has announced new measures that will come into force in the coming weeks with which to set the legal costs that can be claimed in sick claims incurred during the holidays of British tourists out of the country.

The international tourist sector had claimed this legal vacuum that had contributed to the claims by British tourists to increase. He had also expressed concern that these false claims could mean a rise in the prices of vacation packages for British tourists.

Until now, the legal costs derived from insurance claims for illnesses contracted during the holidays were not subject to any type of control, which is why tour operators often saw them grow disproportionately with respect to the damages claimed.

Hence, many tour operators have preferred to settle claims by closing agreements outside the courts, rather than through the courts.

Industry experts believe that this has been a key factor in the increase of claims, and has created concern about the damage to the reputation of the United Kingdom abroad and the possibility that British tourists are with some packages more expensive holidays.

“Claiming compensation for having contracted an illness during the holidays, when it is not true, is a fraud, this harms the tourism sector and exposes tourists to a price increase.” This behavior also harms the reputation of British citizens in The foreigner, for this reason, we are going to introduce measures that persecute those who commit these dishonest practices, “explained the Secretary of State for Justice, Rory Stewart.

THE CLAIMS HAVE INCREASED BY 500%

According to the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), from 2013 to 2016 the claims grew by 500%, from 5,000 to 35,000.

These “disproportionate” costs have restrained the tour operators when it comes to contesting claims through the courts, and at the same time they have encouraged insurance companies to encourage tourists to claim compensation and even to operate directly from the resorts European

To address this problem, the Government has asked the Civil Procedure Committee – in charge of setting the rules regarding legal costs – to study the transfer of claims to the recoverable fixed costs regime.

Thus, the tour operators would only disburse the expenses established according to the amount of the claim and the duration of the judicial process, being able to foresee the legal costs and helping the tour operators to challenge fraudulent claims through the courts.

CHANGES IN THE REGULATIONS

The Committee has already agreed on the changes that will be applied to this rule, which will take effect shortly. More information will be published on the Government’s approach, as well as its response following the recent request for evidence.

The British Government is committed to addressing this “culture” of compensation, having recently introduced a civil liability law that includes measures to reduce the number of whiplash claims and to allow insurance companies to lower premiums.

Other reforms include the prohibition of “cold calls” to attract customers by telephone and stricter regulation of claims management companies.

Since October 2017, courts have sentenced four couples to pay significant legal costs after filing fraudulent claims for illnesses contracted during their vacations, most of them in Spain. These cases were private accusations filed by the tour operators Thomas Cook, TUI and Red Sea Holidays.