West Midlands UKIP MEP James Carver is urging the Government to act faster to halt the scourge of bogus holiday sickness and fraudulent minor whiplash claims, which are costing the public billions of pounds a year.
Mr Carver is also calling for the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill, due to go to the House of Commons shortly, to include a ban on cold calling for personal injury claims by claims management companies.
He said: “These firms having been plaguing our nation for several years, encouraging false and exaggerated claims through cold calling, which can get to a point of harassment.
“These are not victimless crimes – they cost insurance companies billions, much of which is paid for by honest customers through higher premiums and excesses.
“And now we hear from the Association of British Travel Agents there has been an astronomical 500 per cent increase in sickness claims from around 5,000 in 2013 to 35,000 in 2016, resulting in higher holiday prices for everyone.”
Mr Carver said proposals to deter such bogus sickness claims by controlling legal costs, currently being considered by the Civil Procedure Rule Committee, “could not come soon enough”.
He said: “Last October, these were promised for the new year, well we are well into January now and, as the committee is not due to meet until February, we are looking at the early spring at the soonest. ABTA is desperate for these measures to come into effect for the summer season – that means an April deadline must be met.”
Two years ago, the Government announced changes to the personal injury limit for road traffic accidents which it was estimated would save motorists £1 billion a year and slash up to £50 off car insurance bills.
Mr Carver said: “Yet we are still waiting for this threshold to rise from £1,000 to £5,000, after which victims with minor injuries will have their rehabilitation paid for instead.
“Apparently it won’t come into force until October – almost three years since the Ministry of Justice made the announcement. That’s simply not good enough.
“However, it does perhaps explain the sudden deluge of cold calls many of my constituents complain they are receiving, advising them they can win compensation for their alleged recent car accident which wasn’t their fault.
“These are often generated as sophisticated automated calls, which the fairly toothless Telephone Preference Service is unable to detect, and so the blight continues.
“Of course, the trouble is that once these loopholes are plugged, unscrupulous claims management companies will find other scams to harass us with as they prey on the greed of some in our society.
“We should tell them to ‘get lost’, loudly and clearly, the Government and regulatory authorities need to be one step ahead and to outlaw cold calling for personal injury claims would be a great leap forward.”