Bumped-up insurance claims 'surge'

TV remote controlExaggerated home insurance claims have surged in the last year amid the tough economic backdrop, research has suggested.

Axa said the industry is seen as a "soft target" for people who want to make extra cash, as households continue to face pressure from high living costs and deteriorating employment conditions.
The insurer carried out a study which found that 9% of people who said they had made a claim in the last five years had exaggerated it, typically adding an extra £607 on to their totals. The figure is up from around 7% of people who said they had bumped up a claim when a similar study was carried out a year ago.

Exaggerated claims related to televisions, particularly before big sporting events, jewellery or cash which never existed, people stating they had designer goods stolen when they were actually fakes and people claiming they had a freezer filled with fine dining ingredients such as lobster and steak rather than the reality of fish fingers and peas.

Respondents had made claims to home insurers across the board, not just Axa, and the company estimated from its findings that 200,000 UK consumers made exaggerated home insurance claims last year.

Less than half (45%) of people surveyed consider an exaggerated claim to be dishonest and more than one in 10 people would be more likely to consider trying to bump up a claim than they were three years ago.

Axa also found that men are nearly twice as likely to have made an exaggerated claim than women. Around 12% of men who had made a claim at some point said they have stretched the truth, compared with around 6% of women.

Steve Gaywood, head of fraud at Axa, said: "As an industry we are well aware that these things go on and we are introducing measures all the time to try and reduce the amount of fraud that occurs."

He added: "Ultimately, if consumers get caught out they run the risk of having the whole claim turned down as well as facing problems getting insurance in the future. It is not a victimless crime, honest customers end up footing the bill through higher premiums as insurers pass on the additional costs of inflated claims."

Axa has previously said that exaggerated claims can add as much as £13 to every home insurance policy.

© 2012 Press Association
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