James Walker: Food for thought before making poisoning claim

Its important to recognise the difference between actual food poisoning (you wont be able to move or do anything for days) and just having a dodgy stomach.
Its important to recognise the difference between actual food poisoning (you wont be able to move or do anything for days) and just having a dodgy stomach.
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There are few things worse than food poisoning. To the uninitiated, you feel really wretched – and it’s even worse if you’re stuck in a hotel room away from home when it happens.

But the problem with food poisoning is it has become a term we use to describe everything from an upset stomach to the Norovirus. And quite a lot of people fake it. That’s why eyebrows tend to be raised when our colleagues at work have a timely bout of it on Mondays.

There’s been a lot in the news lately about British tourists cashing in on fake food poisoning claims. The Association of British Travel Agents says that claims have soared in the past few years with average payouts of £2,000. At Resolver, we don’t like it at all when organisations accuse people of trying it on or making fake claims, but sadly, there’s a lot of evidence that this is true. And British people are the principal offenders on holiday.

It’s important to recognise the difference between actual food poisoning (you won’t be able to move or do anything for days) and just having a dodgy stomach.

We all know about feeling a bit wonky while we’re on holiday (learn a few handy words in the local language in case you need to speak to a pharmacist) but this can often be brought on by:

◆ eating too much

◆ a sudden change in diet

◆ drinking too much (both alcohol and water)

◆ prolonged exposure to the sun

In other words, all the fun things often involved in going on holiday.

If you think you’ve got food poisoning, you aren’t going to be up to doing very much, so ask a friend or family member to help out or speak to the hotel manager or a local doctor if you can. Here’s my advice:

◆ Let the venue that you think is responsible know as soon as possible.

◆ Speak to a doctor if you can, especially if you’re older, have existing health issues or the person affected is a young child. Get proof of diagnosis.

◆ Contact your travel insurer and find out how they can help.

◆ Notify the hotel if you think you got food poisoning there. This is required in many places thanks to the sheer volume of fake claims that have been made. They’ll tell you this when you check in.

So why all the fake claims? Step forward public enemy number one at Resolver – the claims managers. These “businesses” are diversifying from PPI claims and are contacting consumers en masse to encourage them to make claims.

If you did feel a bit poorly on holiday and are tempted by a big cash payout, think again. Holiday firms here and abroad have had enough of such scams and the damage they do to their reputation. So they’re counter-suing claims that are dodgy. And in a number of cases recently they have clearly demonstrated that the claimants were faking. They know if you’ve been in your room for days or not. And they’ll check social media too – people with food poisoning don’t sunbathe around the pool while they recover. The price for getting caught is high too – with claimants ending up with convictions and paying court costs.

We think it’s unfair that a small minority of people have made things worse for all of us Brits abroad. But if you’ve genuinely become ill due to poor service, then you have a right to compensation, so make a complaint.