A hound jumps in a field before members of the Old Surrey Burstow & West Kent Hunt set off on the first day of the hunting season in Chiddingstone, southern England. (Photo: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters)
The family dog goes missing. Healthy cats are euthanized. If Raymond Chandler and Walt Disney had collaborated on a film noir script, it might read something like this item from The Daily Mail.
The newspaper is reporting a rise in pet insurance fraud in Britain. Fake claims on U.K. pet policies have quadrupled in the past year, making it the fastest growing area of insurance claims.
Last year, $3 million (£1,929,900 pounds) was collected in pet insurance compared to $667,842 (£420,000 pounds) in 2009. Carys Clarke, an insurance fraud solicitor says that “between 2008 and 2010, the number of suspected fraud claims in the U.K. has increased by 440 percent.”
Owners are killing their pets to claim early death payouts. Others work in conjunction with vets and present claims for treatment at double their regular cost.
“In addition to the loss of use and value of the animal, the deliberate destruction or maiming of an animal can also be disguised as an accident and deliberate destruction of an animal by a veterinary surgeon when unnecessary are also areas where fraud might arise,” said Clark.
In 2010, more than two million cats and dogs were insured. Since any type of animal can be insured, experts expect a huge influx of bogus claims. The Association of British Insurers is now arranging a shared database of information about insured animals to more effectively detect fraud.