New MoJ Rules Should Reduce Fake Travel Sickness Claims

One of the long-running stories in the mainstream UK media last summer was the topic of fake travel sickness claims. Case verdicts were being more prominent coverage and there was a sense that this scam was replacing crash-for-cash in many ways.

Although telematics and dashcam technology is now reducing fake motor claims, what is to be done to stop the bogus tummy bug claims? One avenue is regulation of course and the Minstry of Justice has new rules coming into play in May, which should make it harder for fakers to essentially recoup the cost of a luxury cruise by claiming they were confined to their cabin with upset stomachs.

For Insurance Edge, the crucial factors within the new rules are the disclosure of claimants social media content, plus metadata stamped photographic evidence. By demanding that claims are backed up with photos taken on the trip, and uncovering the various social media posts made by those family members on the trip, insurers can spot fraudulent claims that bit quicker.

Here’s some interesting comment from Horwich Farrelly on the new rules, which apply to claims in England and Wales from May 6th;

Nicola Critchley, Partner & Head of Costs at Horwich Farrelly noted,

“The surge in travel claims resulted in many “new players” entering this arena. This brought with it significant inconsistencies in the ways that claims were presented and case managed. The lack of a bespoke template for a letter of claim meant that these often lacked basic information required to consider the claim and where information was provided it was often inaccurate. The template letter of claim provided in the new PAP provides defendants with a basis on which to require claimants to address any omissions.

“Disclosure has proven to be particularly problematical. Claimants would frequently submit a standard request for countless classes of documents many of which would not be relevant to the particular claim and would in any event be disproportionate to the value of the claim. At the same time as making onerous requests of defendants, many claimants would fail to respond to disclosure requests by defendants.

“The PAP now clearly defines what documents should be provided by each party. This is the first PAP that provides for disclosure of medical records, bank statements and social media data. The latter may raise an eyebrow but it must be considered that more and more claimants will activate the privacy settings on their accounts, not least because of the widespread news coverage of Facebook users data being misused.

“The requirement for this disclosure means that whilst personal data is private, if it contains relevant evidence then, just like private medical records, it is open to defendants to request, and if need be apply for, those documents.

“The introduction of FRC will in any event lead to a change in behaviour in terms of pre-action disclosure (“PAD”) by claimant representatives. Firstly, the costs of a PAD application will be fixed at £250. Secondly there will be no incentive to spend time obtaining and viewing irrelevant documents. Under FRC it will not be cost effective to continue with the “scattergun” approach of requesting every conceivable document.

“The obligations to supply all the relevant information and documents at an early stage will, in our view, inevitably lead to earlier identification of unmeritorious claims by claimants own representatives. Taken in conjunction with the implementation of FRC, we expect these measures will lead to a significant drop in fraudulent travel claims.”

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