Ho­tels fight back on false tourist claims

Mean­while, UK reg­u­la­tor strips li­cence from holiday sick­ness firm

Costa del Sol News - - FRONT PAGE -

By Dave Jamieson A COM­PLAINT by a ho­tel group on Mal­lorca has sparked a spe­cial­ist po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­legedly fake in­sur­ance claims to­talling al­most €4.3 mil­lion made by Bri­tish tourists last year.

Mean­while, the UK's Claims Man­age­ment Reg­u­la­tor last week an­nounced it has stripped the li­cence of a firm that it says pres­sured peo­ple to make holiday sick­ness claims.

In the Mal­lorca com­plaint, Tri­auno SL, owner of Club Mac Al­cú­dia, which op­er­ates the Marte, Saturno and Júpiter ho­tels at the re­sort in the north of the is­land, says seven times more claims were made than dur­ing 2015.

A to­tal of 273 com­plaints in­volv­ing 797 peo­ple were made about food served in these three ho­tels dur­ing 2016. But ac­cord­ing to po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions, only 32 of these re­ported that they had sought ad­vice from a doc­tor.

How­ever, the ho­tel chain says it has passed all health in­spec­tions as well as qual­ity checks made by the Bri­tish tour op­er­a­tors who send holidaymakers to the re­sort. It also hired pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tors to col­lect ev­i­dence of the spe­cialised UK in­sur­ance com­pa­nies who send rep­re­sen­ta­tives to Span­ish re­sorts where they sign up clients out­side their ho­tels in prepa­ra­tion for mak­ing a false claim after they re­turn home.

The move is ev­i­dence of grow­ing re­tal­i­a­tion by an­gry Span­ish hote­liers who have had to pay out thou­sands in fake com­pen­sa­tion claims. They say the Bri­tish le­gal sys­tem al­lows tourists to claim against their tour op­er­a­tors in the UK, who then deduct the set­tle­ment fig­ure from the amount they pay the hote­lier. They are de­mand­ing an end to the prac­tice which al­lows a re­ceipt for an anti-di­ar­rhoea medicine, such as Imod­ium, which has been pur­chased in the re­sort to be re­garded as ev­i­dence of food-poi­son­ing.

In the re­port which it has sub­mit­ted to the mag­is­trates court in Palma, the Eco­nomic Crimes Group of the Na­tional Po­lice notes that the prac­tise has been com­mon for years on the Ca­nary Is­lands and Balearic Is­lands and along the Le­vante coast. It adds that it is in­con­ceiv­able that al­most 800 peo­ple fell ill in three Al­cú­dia ho­tels, and notes that such an event would con­sti­tute an epi­demic, alert­ing the at­ten­tion of the re­gional health au­thor­i­ties. The re­port con­cludes that there is clear ev­i­dence of crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity. mak­ing holiday-sick­ness claims has had its li­cence stripped by the Claims Man­age­ment Reg­u­la­tor, re­ported the Min­istry of Ju­sice last Fri­day.

It said in­tel­li­gence gath­ered by the Claims Man­age­ment Reg­u­la­tor ( CMR) of­fi­cers re­vealed that Lan­cashire based All­sure Ltd had en­cour­aged holiday-go­ers to fab­ri­cate or em­bel­lish symp­toms of gas­tric ill­ness to get com­pen­sa­tion. Fur­ther ev­i­dence showed the firm had used de­cep­tive sales scripts – ex­ag­ger­at­ing ex­pected pay-outs to en­tice con­sumers.

This con­duct has led to the firm’s li­cence be­ing can­celled, which means that it can no longer of­fer reg­u­lated claims man­age­ment ser­vices to new or ex­ist­ing clients.

Kevin Rousell, Head of the Claims Man­age­ment Reg­u­la­tor said: "We will take firm ac­tion against claims busi­nesses which en­gage in seri- ous mis­con­duct.

"Seek­ing to en­cour­age false claims will not be tol­er­ated."

CMR, based at the Min­istry of Jus­tice, reg­u­lates com­pa­nies that of­fer to help peo­ple claim com­pen­sa­tion for issues such as per­sonal in­jury and mis-sold fi­nan­cial prod­ucts.

The min­istry said the ac­tion taken against All­sure Ltd is the lat­est in a se­ries of moves by the gov­ern­ment to crack down on fake sick­ness claims, fol­low­ing con­cerns from the travel in­dus­try of a surge in in­sur­ance claims for gas­tric ill­nesses like food poi­son­ing be­ing brought by Bri­tish holidaymakers.

In July min­is­ters stepped in to re­duce cash in­cen­tives in bring­ing spu­ri­ous claims against pack­age holiday tour op­er­a­tors. Un­der these pro­pos­als tour op­er­a­tors would pay a pre­scribed sum de­pend­ing on the value of the claim, mak­ing the cost of de­fend­ing a claim pre­dictable.

Many claims in­volve al­leged sick­ness from food poi­son­ing

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