The rise of fake sickness claims has been a pressing concern for the travel industry and the impact is now being felt among major companies.
Thomas Cook has revealed a 40% fall in its profits in the UK for the past financial year with chief executive Peter Fankhauser placing part of the blame on to the rising trend of fake sickness claims. While both increased competition in the Spanish holidays market and the fall of the pound, Mr Fankhauser noted the detrimental effect these claims were having.
Speaking following the publication of Thomas Cook’s annual financial report, he explained that while the company had been knocked by these claims, it has put measures in place to ensure this does not happen again.
In a statement, Thomas Cook said: “We have taken a robust approach towards illness claims including improving our handling and assessment processes, and taking legal action against fraudsters – as a result, the claim rate has declined dramatically.
“We are also rebalancing our destination mix towards more profitable, fast-growing destinations such as Turkey and Egypt, and we are continuing to drive operating efficiencies.”
Mr Fankhauser did not reveal the number of claims the company had received in the past year but did note that among its German customers there had not been a single claim. Looking ahead, Thomas Cook stated it expected holiday prices for Spain to rise by 10% next summer and said that customers looking for cheaper alternatives should consider Turkey and Egypt.
Thomas Cook was recently involved in a landmark case where a British couple were jailed for attempting to gain compensation by submitting false holiday sickness claims. Deborah Briton and her partner Paul Roberts were sentenced to nine and 15 months, respectively, after being found guilty of fraud.
The pair were looking to gain £20,000 from Thomas Cook after stating that they and their two children had contracted a gastric illness while on holiday in Majorca. However, Judge David Aubrey QC noted that they had bragged of holidays “sun, laughter and fun” on social media before handing down a custodial sentence.
The ruling came on the same day the government had introduced new measures to tackle the issue of holiday sickness claims which have spiked by 500% since 2013.
Read more about ABTA Stop Sickness Claims campaign here – https://abta.com/tips-and-latest/abta-campaigns/holiday-sickness/stop-sickness-scams-videos
Read more about Thomas Cook’s latest financial statement here – https://www.ttgmedia.com/news/news/thomas-cooks-group-earnings-improve-but-fake-sickness-claims-impact-uk-business–12399?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Midday%20Bulletin