AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth
New consumer research from AXA has revealed a continued rise in the numbers of people exaggerating their home insurance claims.
The company found that the number of those exaggerating a claim has jumped by around 17 per cent year on year, with an estimated 200,000 consumers in the last year adding an average of £607 to their claim.
Data from AXA's own claims department shows tens of thousands of customers have been 'caught' making exaggerated claims in the last couple of years, which, the company said, added £13 to every home insurance policy last year.
This year's data suggests that as money continues to be tight, insurance is still seen as a soft target for making some extra cash - the research revealed that 12 per cent of people would be more likely to consider making an exaggerated claim now than three years ago.
More worryingly, only 45 per cent of people surveyed consider an exaggerated claim to be dishonest.
London tops the list of places where people have exaggerated claims, not just by number but also by value. The research also suggests that men are nearly twice as likely as women to have exaggerated a claim.
As well as exaggerating claims, consumers were asked what other kinds of behaviour they considered to be dishonest when making a claim.
58 per cent considered it was not dishonest to neglect to mention previous claims
56 per cent believed it was not dishonest to say windows/doors were shut or locked at the time of the theft when in fact they weren't
48 per cent felt it was okay to submit a receipt belonging to someone else in order to make a claim
43 per cent believed deliberately damaging an item to make a claim was not being dishonest
Steve Gaywood, head of fraud at AXA insurance 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.
"In the past year, AXA introduced CUE - a database of previous claims by consumers with their old insurers - which checks for home insurance and also have a team in place that is dedicated to reducing fraudulent activity.
"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."