If you needed any more evidence that the Greek debt-crisis is threatening to throw the world into economic and social turmoil, here it is: British people have taken to puppy-killing. Or puppy-maiming, but either way you look at it, this story represents the next phase in series of global disasters preceding 2012's much-ballyhooed end of days.
New figures released by the Association of British Insurers show a dramatic rise in fraudulent claims of pet insurance, from £420,000 in 2009 to almost £2 million in 2010 — though the true number is thought to be much higher because veterinary records, unlike doctor records, don't follow pets from one vet to another.
Pet owners can take a policy out of virtually any kind of animal, which makes fraudulent claims difficult to discover. Some owners have staged "accidents" or have "lost" animals to collect early payouts on their pets' untimely deaths, while others have purposely injured their pets to mask preexisting injuries not covered under insurance policies. Experts believe that, in certain cases, vets are complicit in scams, providing expensive and unnecessary drugs or treatments for perfectly healthy pets.
Veterinarian complicity and the spike in claims — a rise of 440% since 2008 — are the two most troubling aspects of this new scamming trend. Parallels have been drawn between pet insurance fraud and car insurance fraud and, with an estimated 2.3 million pets insured in the U.K., there's no reason to think that the fraud will slow down any time soon unless the pet health care industry is massively reformed.
With premiums already averaging £220, the uptick in fraud will push insurance costs even higher and should probably make pet insurers think a little harder about whether exploiting the market for people who love their animals is worth all the craziness that can ensue. Of course, responsible pet owners who love their pets want to make sure that they can pay for that emergency shoelace extraction, but most animals are pretty indiscriminate eaters and behave as if they didn't even know that certain pointy objects in the backyard were dangerous. It's nice to have that couple hundred-dollar peace of mind policy to protect Patches from all the nickels he'll eat out of your change purse, but the opportunity to exploit insurance policies for financial gain can expose pets to unforeseen dangers. Pets will probably hurt themselves and that's just part of being a semi-senseless animal surrounded by mysterious human fabrics, gadgets, and morsels. They don't need the added danger of owners luring them into the middle of the street with a Milk Bone or catnip or whatever strange treats the other miscellaneous pets eat.
Image via marinini/Shutterstock.