You know the economy is bad when people stoop to this level.
Apparently, several Brits are maiming their pets in order to collect the insurance money, reports Newser.
The Daily Mail writes that the insurers detected $3 million in pet insurance fraud in 2010, compared to just $668,000 in fraud the year prior.
"Between 2008 and 2010 the number of claims where fraud has been suspected or proven has increased by 440 per cent," said Carys Clarke, a solicitor who works as an insurance fraud investigator for law firm Berrymans Lace Mawer, to the Daily Mail.
That’s quite a jump in claims.
If not cashing in on the deliberate maiming of their pet, some Brits have also collected on "lost" or "stolen" policies after reporting that their pet went "mysteriously" missing. Many of these claims have proven to be fraudulent as the Association of British Insurers reports that they have uncovered several cases where the "missing" pet never even existed.
Obviously, the difference between a pet insurance scam and something like an auto insurance scam is that it's not very easy to investigate and verify a missing, stolen, or maimed ("damaged") pet claim.
But even more troubling are the different frauds that imply cooperation from veterinarians.
The Association of British Insurers reports that other scams it has uncovered include submitting claims for vet treatments that never occurred and submitting doctored bills that severely exaggerate the original charge.
Clarke notes that vets, who are not bound by the constraints of using the cheapest drugs available like the National Health Service, can even charge up to "twice as much for treatment."
"Insurers may also be presented with claims for cost of drugs or treatment for animals that don't exist or for a treatment that is unnecessary or more expensive than needed," she said. "These are particularly worrying types of fraud because it often requires the help of a vet."
Indeed, a desperate pet owner is one thing, but the veterinary is in on the take? Can this get any worse?
Yes. Yes it can.
The worst of the scams, as reported by The Daily Mail, involves pet owners taking their healthy pets to the vet and deliberately having them put down.
Deliberately killing pets to collect insurance money?
"As in motor insurance, the types of pet fraud vary, but suspicions are often aroused by potentially exaggerated claims for treatment," Clarke told the Daily Mail. "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."
Much like the situation involving doctored bills, this scam implicates the cooperation of the vet. Who knows? Maybe the pet owner and the vet split the cash when the insurance company pays out.
While things in England have been arguably bad economically -- especially given the country's recent string of riots -- are people really that strapped for cash that they would harm innocent animals?