A New Level of Fraud: Pets Are Getting Killed for the Insurance Money

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Insurance fraud has reached a new low in the U.K., where authorities have discovered a rise in claims on pet insurance policies.

According to the Association of British Insurers, last year £1,929,900 ($3 million) was collected in pet insurance compared to £420,000 ($667, 842) in 2009, the Telegraph reports. In 2010, 2.3 million cats and dogs were insured, and since almost any type of animal can be insured, experts are bracing for an even bigger influx in dishonest claims.

(MORE: Pet Care’ Inflation: Health Care Costs Have Soared, and Not Only for Human Beings)

The new scheme includes pet owners selling or killing their own pets to claim insurance money, as well as staging “fake accidents” to conceal previous injuries or conditions not covered by the policy. Some insurers believe people go as far as to deliberately lose animals or make up their existence.

Experts are also questioning the involvement of veterinarians, who might prescribe unnecessary and expensive medicine or treat animals who are not actually sick in order to collect money.  Carys Clarke, a solicitor who works as an insurance fraud investigator, told Daily Mail that vets are not required to use the cheapest drugs available and can charge up to double the price for treatment. “These are particularly worrying types of fraud because it often requires the help of a vet,” she said.