Tour Op Uses ‘Spies’ To Catch Bogus Holiday Sick Claims Company

Open Jaw

A UK tour operator is reported to have used spies to catch a company encouraging vacationers in Benidorm, Spain to make bogus allegations that they fell ill from resort food.

It’s a follow-up to a story in this space last week titled: Spanish Hoteliers Sick Of UK Travellers Claiming Sickness.’

It appears that a loophole in UK laws has spawned a mini-industry of companies that encourage guests at resorts in Spain to make false insurance claims regarding holiday sickness. Spanish hoteliers say fraudulent claims, mainly from British travellers, is costing them more than €60 million a year.

UK newspaper The Mail On Sunday reported that one leading travel company, which it did not name for legal reasons, hired investigators to go undercover.

The newspaper says it obtained footage of investigators posing as a family of four at the Sol Pelicanos hotel in Benidorm being approached by a representative of a company called ‘Sick By The Sea.’

The investigators were told that all they had to do was buy some medication and take a photograph of it and they could be in line for a £3,000 compensation payout.

The operator decided to act after it was told by the hotel that fliers were being handed out to guests by claims management companies. Some resorts report a 400% increase in claims made against them, many generated by legal firms who advertise on social media sites such as Facebook.

Manchester-based Sick By The Sea told the Mail on Sunday that it was not company policy to encourage holidaymakers to lie and disciplinary action would be taken against its employee.

Earlier this month, UK industry association ABTA demanded government action after an “alarming” rise in gastric illness compensation claims since civil justice reforms in 2012. 

The reforms included measures intended to clamp down on fraudulent personal injury claims, but which excluded incidents that occurred overseas. The loophole spawned a rise in specialist legal firms creating brands specifically to fish for business on social media and online. 


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