By Diane Cooke
The holiday regulation organisation, ABTA wants a ban on cold-calling to curtail bogus holiday sickness claims.
The Financial Claims and Guidance Bill, which was debated by MPs in the House of Commons on January 22, proposed the creation of a single financial guidance body that would consider the impact of cold-calling on consumers.
ABTA said it believed cold-calling to be “one of the main tools” used by Claims Management Companies (CMCs) to “encourage exaggerated or false sickness claims” and had helped to fuel a 565% increase in holiday sickness claims since 2013.
The association is also calling on the Financial Conduct Authority to commit to consulting on the full recommendations of the 2016 Brady review – an independent review of claims management regulation – in relation “to the need for greater transparency” between CMCs and solicitors who pursue claims.
Aviva is another organisation joining the call for a ban. The insurance company carried out an analysis of Ofcom data and revealed that there were more than six million nuisance calls and texts sent every day during 2017.
In addition 2.2 billion calls and texts were on a host of insurance and pension-related matters – ranging from PPI calls to injury-related claims.
According to a report by the Eastern Daily Press, calls chasing an alleged accident claim were the most common concern – there were around 895 million calls and texts related to injury accidents or holiday sickness during the year.
After the second reading of the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill last month, the government was accused of “pulling its punches” and “shilly shallying” over introducing a ban on cold-calling for personal injury (PI) claims.
The comments came after work and pensions secretary Esther McVey appeared to fudge the commitment the government had given in the House of Lords.
The bill originally banned cold-calling just in relation to pensions, but during its passage through the upper house, it decided to add a ban on cold-calling by claims management companies to its provisions.
The bill also transfers regulation of claims management companies from the Ministry of Justice to the Financial Conduct Authority.
There was widespread support from MPs across the House for a ban on cold-calling in PI, but initially Ms McVey only talked about the pensions ban, even when asked by Labour’s Andy Slaughter, a former shadow justice minister, about the wider ban.
Conservative Chris Philp – the most outspoken backbench supporter of PI reform – asked her to clarify whether the powers to prohibit cold calling “will apply not just to financial guidance but to claims management companies”.
Ms McVey replied: “That is our intention and that is what we will do, but those finer points will be worked out by the body [the Financial Conduct Authority] as it works responsibly on behalf of UK citizens.
“The government have been clear that we will not stand for unlawful, persistent cold calling made by companies in the claims management sector. Cold calling is already illegal under certain circumstances."