These are tough economic times. Some people occupy public parks. Others—particularly in Britain—prefer to kill their pets. According to the Daily Mail, British pet owners are “deliberately maiming or even killing their animals to get a payout,” so much so that fraudulent pet insurance claims have nearly quadrupled in the past year. In fact, notes the Daily Mail, pets are now the “fastest growing area of insurance claims” in the country.
Figures from the Association of British Insurers show that there was more than $3 million worth of pet insurance fraud uncovered last year—a number that’s more than doubled since 2009. So how exactly do people commit pet fraud? Authorities insist that many fraudulent claims resemble “crash for cash” set-ups, in which animal owners stage accidents and injure their pets on purpose to get a payout. That, or they try to claim insurance on pets that don’t even exist to begin with.
Fake pets aside, however, 2.3 million real animals (cats and dogs) were insured last year in Britain—and that doesn’t even include the scores of other species covered by pet insurers. For example, one British company, Exotic Direct, offers its customers—in addition to the standard dog and cat packages—tortoise, lizard, snake, parrot, and “bird of prey” coverage.
Still, any Brit planning on taking advantage of the seemingly accommodating system should probably think twice before making a false claim. The Association of British Insurers is in the process of developing a database about insured animals and their veterinary paper trails, in order to detect fraud.