According to a study released last month, insurance fraud in the UK business community costs at least £550m a year

The survey highlights the need for insurers, industry partners and customers to work together, as firms are just as likely to be the victims as the perpetrators of fraud. The key findings of the research were:

- up to one in seven claims made by businesses are exaggerated
- one in three of the UK's biggest firms supplied false information on insurance proposal forms
- one in 12 firms believed exaggerating a property or motor insurance claim was acceptable - with smaller businesses most likely to regard it acceptable.

But the survey also found that companies were just as likely to be the victims of fraud, finding that over the last two years:

- one in 10 companies had been the target of a false claim for compensation by a member of the public
- two in three larger businesses were subject to a fraudulent compensation claim
- one fifth of employees are aware of someone exaggerating a genuine illness or injury.

The independent research, undertaken by MORI, was commissioned by a syndicate of leading insurance-related organisations, comprising: The Association of British Insurers; Capita Insurance Services; Cunningham Lindsey UK; Davies Arnold Cooper Solicitors; NIG; Royal & SunAlliance; and Zurich.

Commenting on the findings, John Beadle from Royal & SunAlliance, said: "This is the first research of its kind, and the messages are stark. The £550m price tag and the fact that 15% of claims are exaggerated, highlight the challenge we face as an industry. Fraud is not a victimless crime: it pushes up the cost of insurance for everyone, and we know this hits smaller firms particularly hard. We have to protect honest policyholders, as far as possible, from unnecessary rises in premiums."

Mike Boon, from Cunningham Lindsey UK said: "Insurance companies take fraud very seriously. But it is clear that a minority of companies do not regard their behaviour as criminal. Fraudsters need to know that, at best, their actions may void their policy, and, at worst, they risk being prosecuted and becoming uninsurable".