NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - One out of four Americans said that overstating the value of insurance claims is acceptable, and more than 10 percent of them approved of submitting false claims for items that weren't lost or damaged, a study said Thursday.
The survey, commissioned by Accenture and conducted by Taylor Nelson Sofres Intersearch, examined about 1,000 consumers' attitudes toward insurance fraud. It found that 16 percent of respondents thought overstating an insurance claim was "somewhat acceptable," while 7 percent thought the practice was "quite acceptable." A majority of respondents, 58 percent, felt that overstating a claim was "not at all acceptable."
About a quarter of those surveyed said people who commit insurance fraud do so because they believe the insurance companies charge too much. Forty-nine percent said they believe people commit fraud because they think they can get away with it.
"Fraud is a growing concern for insurers, whose aging technology and inefficient processes often prevent them from detecting fraudulent claims, which in turn hurts their long-term profitability," said Michael A. Lucarini, a partner in Accenture's Insurance practice.
Those committing fraud are becoming more sophisticated and advanced in their methods, while many insurance companies still lack the necessary processes and systems to detect and stop fraud, Lucarini said.
"The burden is clearly on insurance companies to ensure they have the proper tools, technologies and skills to combat fraud," he added.
Insurance fraud is the second-largest economic crime in America after income tax evasion, and the cost of fraud in the property and casualty industry is approximately $24 billion per year, according to the Insurance Services Office.
The study also concluded that two-thirds of Americans think people are more likely to commit insurance fraud during an economic downturn than when the economy is strong.
The survey was comprised of telephone interviews with 1,030 U.S. adults in November 2002. Of these respondents, 298 said they had filed a property/casualty insurance claim for personal, property auto or homeowners' insurance or for worker's compensation.
New York-based Accenture is the world's largest computer and business consulting management company. Taylor Nelson Sofres Intersearch is a U.S. member of Taylor Nelson Sofres, a marketing information company.