'A seagull stole my watch': fraudulent insurance claims exposed
An expensive watch allegedly stolen by a seagull and a fallen flat-screen TV that managed to smash glass all over the floor, despite not containing any glass, are just two examples of fraudulent insurance claims featured in a new study.
Researchers at the University of Portsmouth looked at 40,000 claims compiled by claims investigators VFM Services.
Their research led them to conclude that the most common insurance fraudster is aged 31-50, has never made a false claim before and is claiming for £500 or less. They are typically claiming for accidental damage to a TV, mobile phone or computer.
The academics say that claims for computers, mobile phones, jewellery and carpets peak in early autumn. They believe one reason for this is an expensive summer holiday "has given them a motive to invent or exaggerate a claim to help pay off bills".
And over four in five fraudulent claims are for accidental damage, which means the claimant doesn't have to get a police report. The main reason for this is if someone claims for theft and the claim is found to be fraudulent, it can lead to another charge of perverting the course of justice or wasting police time.
Professor Mark Button said the research shows that people are more likely to commit fraud if they feel they aren't asking for too much money.
He added: "People who try to commit insurance fraud are highly likely to think a little crime won't hurt anyone, and are therefore opportunists rather than being serious professional criminals."
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) conducted some research of its own, which found that two-thirds of people might make a false claim, think it's acceptable to make a false claim, or would exaggerate the cost of something that has been lost or stolen.
The ABI claims insurance fraud adds an extra £50 a year to the average insurance bill.