Agents urged not to refer customers to claim firms

Agents urged not to refer customers to claim firms

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Agents have been warned of the dangers of referring clients to claims companies seeking compensation for holiday sickness or flight delays.

The warning follows agents being approached on Facebook by people claiming to be from legal firms offering money for successful referrals.
Abta and law firm Travlaw said passing on customer details would jeopardise supplier relations and could breach data protection and other regulations.

Last month, Independent Travel Expert homeworker Kathy Kay, based near Wigan, received a private message on Facebook.

It was from a woman claiming to be from a “UK law firm that deals with holiday illness and flight delay claims”.

The woman did not reveal which law firm she worked for, but said it was currently working with a number of independent agents.

She claimed it would pay a referral fee for every “successful case” and suggested the agent could market the referral option as “a sort of after-care service”.

Kay ignored the request and said a number of her colleagues had also received the message.

She said: “I have no intention of referring anyone. I hate companies that do this as they’re trying to make money out of peoples’ illness.
“People claiming like this could increase the price of holidays in the long term. I just think it’s wrong and I don’t know any agents who would refer a client.”

Other agents on Facebook revealed they had received similar messages, phone calls and mailshots. Most reported they had ignored the requests.

The government’s Claims Management Regulator states any firm soliciting claims must clearly identify themselves and “not offer any cash payment or a similar benefit as an inducement”.

Abta warned agents who refer clients could be breaching their agency agreements and confirmed any organisation seeking referrals could be breaking the rules.

A spokesman said: “Passing on client contact details without their consent would be a clear breach of data protection legislation and it may well also be a regulatory offence for the claims management company to pay or receive referral fees in personal injury cases.”

As well as individual agents, consortia have also been approached by claims companies.

Gary Lewis, chief executive of the Travel Network Group, said it had made a conscious decision not to work with these claims firms, adding: “We will help and advise members and their customers on the best route to resolve any issues or grievance.”


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