Despite a record number of unscrupulous Claims Management Companies (CMCs) trying to encourage exaggerated or false sickness claims, ABTA has said those claiming against cruise companies will fail.

The Financial Claims and Guidance Bill had its second reading in the House of Commons this week (Monday 22 January) with ABTA calling on MPs to support an amendment to ban the cold calling of customers. Cold calling is one of the main tools by these companies to encourage false claims, and has helped lead to a 565 per cent increase in holiday sickness claims since 2013, said the trade organisation.

ABTA supports an obligation on claims companies to inform consumers of Alternative Dispute Resolution schemes, which allow consumers to retain 100 per cent of any award made – CMCs which typically retain 20 to 25 per cent.

A spokesman from ABTA told Cruise Trade News: “On cruise ships, the virus is nearly always a norovirus outbreak – it’s not the same as food poisoning. It starts off like a cold and after that you’re vomiting and it’s incredibly infectious. When it happens – it’s in enclosed environments like hospitals, schools and cruise ships,” he said.

“Cruise ships ask people if they are displaying symptoms, and every now and again someone gets through, and if that happens – the cruise ships take it very seriously. They know how infectious it is, they’ll make sure people stay in cabins, and they do very rigorous deep cleaning. So people claiming they’ve got food poisoning on these fake claims are unlikely to stand up.

“Fake claims companies are not targeting the cruise industry they’re after the all-inclusive holidays, on land, because they’re not stupid – they know because cruise companies have such rigorous hygiene in place, the only way someone could win a claim against them is if they show they’ve been negligent in some way; not put infected people in isolation, and not following a cleaning process,” he said.

He added: “Cruise companies can show that they have really thorough hygiene procedures in place and these are documented, so they’ll make sure they will defend themselves and they will win. Claims companies realise that and they don’t go there… they’re wasting their time.”