Claims management companies are starting to trawl for “victims” to seek compensation for catching coronavirus while on holiday, the travel industry has been warned.
Sarah Prager, a barrister at 1 Chancery Lane, told a travel law conference: “There are going to be a rash of Covid claims.”
In 2016 and 2017, holiday firms faced thousands of claims for gastric illness, in what was dubbed “the new PPI”.
Travel companies paid out millions to settle claims, before a combination of changes in the law and legal action against holidaymakers making false allegations put an end to the practice.
Now the travel industry fears that claims management businesses will embark on a different approach to extracting cash from hard-pressed firms: alleging that travellers have caught Covid-19 due to negligence on the part of their holiday company.
At the Travel Law Seminar organised by Abta, the travel association, delegates were told almost 100 claims management companies appear to have been set up with the intention of bringing claims for coronavirus infections.
Their techniques have, in the past, involved cold-calling.
David Scott, a partner at the law firm Horwich Farrelly, said: “They’re already starting to advertise.”
He added: “The holiday sickness epidemic was a steep learning curve.”
He said that claimants going to court would need to prove they contracted Covid-19 through the negligence of their holiday firm.
“It is important to have a risk assessment in place and imperative that you review it regularly,” Mr Scott said.
“If you do identify a risk, you should reduce that risk to the lowest reasonably practical level.”
Travel firms who do face a claim were urged to research social media: “What was the claimant posting on their accounts?”
Several holidaymakers who made false claims for gastric illness were prosecuted after Facebook posts showed them enjoying their vacation at the time they claimed to be ill.
Some claims from skiers who contracted coronavirus as it swept across Europe in February 2020 are already in progress in Austria and Italy.