A new dispute resolution scheme for holidaymakers who have fallen ill aims to curb the role of claims management firms.
A dramatic rise in holiday sickness claims has prompted the UK travel industry to set up its own conciliation scheme for such personal injury cases.
ABTA’s independent Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme offers travel companies and their customers a means of settling complaints without the need to go to court, which can be costly and time-consuming.
The initiative seeks to address the influence of claims management companies, who typically take a significant cut of any award made to a holidaymaker.
They have been blamed for triggering a dramatic rise in holiday sickness claims since 2013, even though reported illness levels in resorts have been stable. Sickness claims now represent 9 in 10 personal injury complaints received by ABTA members, compared with around 60% in 2013.
There have been reports that claims firms are touting their services to tourists whilst they are still abroad, often with the promise of damages of up to £5,000.
ABTA said firms had used a loophole in the law to turn sickness claims into a significant revenue stream. Their involvement leaves the travel industry exposed to legal costs as a result of having to contest the matter through the courts.
With the ADR scheme, travel companies save on legal bills and holidaymakers receive their award in full because a claims management company hasn’t taken a cut. ADR decisions take no longer than eight weeks from start to finish.
The scheme is open to holidaymakers who have booked with an ABTA company and are unable to resolve their differences through the complaints process.
It involves disputes about an injury or sickness that the customer alleges was the fault of the company or one of their suppliers if they were on a package holiday. The scheme is voluntary and both parties have to agree to use it.