A couple who made a fake sickness claim to Jet2holidays have been convicted of fraud and ordered to pay back almost £30,000. Martin and Linsey Brown, from Lancashire, submitted a false claim against Jet2holidays for gastric illness, after staying at a resort in Marmaris, Turkey. The couple claimed they suffered with stomach cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea, arising from food poisoning. They claimed the whole family, including their children, were bed-bound, because of food served on their all-inclusive holiday. However, after being tipped off by another guest, hotel owners used CCTV to compile evidence, including the couple dancing at the pool and drinking at the bar. According to the witness, the couple had bragged to him that they would make a fraudulent claim against the hotel.
During a hearing at the civil court in Manchester, the couple were ordered to pay £29,200 in damages and legal fees. The judge convicted the couple of conspiracy to commit fraud, saying ‘they sought to benefit by their wrong-doing in a thoroughly dishonest fashion. He also said that dishonest claims are a scourge which are blighting these courts.
Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays said: ‘Martin and Lindsey Brown travelled to Turkey having already worked out how to make a fraudulent sickness claim, but thanks to our robust investigation their deception has been uncovered. Jet2holidays has led the way to tackle the issue of false sickness claims so that holidaymakers do not expose themselves to the risks that come with getting involved in such dishonest activity, and we hope this ruling sends out a serious message to others. That message is clear, we will investigate and defend any claims that we believe are dishonest, and the courts do not just take a dim view of such deceit, they are prepared to punish it accordingly.”
In June this year, the travel industry launched a legal fightback after, what they say,was an epidemic of false sickness claims by British holidaymakers. The hotel industry said this has cost hundreds of millions of pounds. The problem has become so out of control, the travel industry even threatened to end the all-inclusive package holiday for Brits wishing to book them. A 500% increase in sickness claims between 2013 and 2016 by British holidaymakers prompted the revolt by hoteliers, who threatened to withdraw the all-inclusive package from the UK market.
The surge in claims is blamed on rogue claims management companies, who tout for business in tourist hotspots and also cold-call holidaymakers once they arrive home. Claims management companies have been encouraging tourists to seek holiday sickness compensation, stating most claims would go unchallenged by the tourist operator, as they would be unlikely to challenge cases in court due to the potential of spiralling legal costs. Some of these rogue claims management firms were even suggesting holidaymakers produce a photo of a receipt for diarrhoea and sickness tablets, stating that would be enough to launch a claim. The government estimated the tourist industry has paid out at least £240 million, with one hotel group solely forking out £42 million, all to avoid being embroiled in a legal battle. The association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) says there were around 35,000 claims over holiday sickness in 2016, a 500% rise since 2013.
After intense lobbying from the travel industry, the government has now introduced a law limiting the costs firms can command for making holiday sickness claims, this will significantly reduce the amount of claims proceeding and hopefully save the package holiday from being taken away from British tourists.
What to do if you have a genuine claim!
- 1. Report the illness to the holiday representative
- 2. Makes sure a written report of your complaint is made, and ask for a copy
- 3. Seek medical attention and ask the doctor for a report
- 4. If anyone else at the hotel is sick, ask for their contact details
- 5. Keep any receipts incurred due to your sickness