According to the Association of British Insurers, incidents of pet insurance related fraud have increased drastically in the last three years. Most recently, there was an alarming 350% increase in suspected pet insurance fraud between 2009 and 2010. And this particular sort of fraud has brutal and inhumane implications.
Increasingly, dogs and cats are being maimed or killed in order to collect the proceeds of a dishonest insurance claim. Pet “disappearances” have been staged. Owners have even gone so far as to deliberately injure their pet to disguise a pre-existing condition or to inflate a veterinary bill, just to make a few bucks from the suffering of a family pet.
As a responsible pet owner and advocate, it’s important to be on the lookout for possible insurance fraud and animal abuse, and to report those cases to the local authorities. The first and most obvious sign of possible fraud is an abandoned pet. If you happen upon an unfamiliar pet in your neighborhood, you have no way of knowing whether there is fraud involved, but when you notify the local police, notes and documents are created that can help establish a possible pattern of abuse or fraud.
Another possible sign is a pet with frequent, untreated injuries, especially a known house pet. Here is yet another reason to report animal abuse whenever and wherever you find it. It is a horrible thing to strike or injure a pet out of anger or frustration. It is monstrous to convert that injury to monetary gain. Report what you see. Let the authorities worry about hurt feelings. If these trends of abuse start to mature here in the United States, animals are going to need staunch advocates.
There are other, more complicated versions of pet insurance fraud and animal abuse, but some of these issues aren’t quite as easy to notice and report. Because vets don’t typically share or track information with each other, pets might sometimes get duplicate or false treatments, which serves to increase the opportunity of fraud. Even more troubling is the disturbing possibility that British veterinarians may in some cases be collaborating with the deceit in several ways, and British investigators have uncovered a significant amount of billing related fraud. As an example: An unscrupulous veterinary surgeon could increase the amount billed, or bill for claims that were never actually administered to the pet, making it possible that the owners are able to submit false claims (and collect the insurance proceeds) without any benefit going to the pet at all.
There are many things that you can do to help stop the spread of animal abuse, but the most important is that you pay attention to the suffering of others, and that you become a vocal advocate for those that suffer. These animals cannot speak for themselves, and if current trends accelerate, they will need all the help they can get.