Car insurance and ghost brokers

How to avoid ghost brokers when buying car insurance

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Buying insurance from ghost brokers can leave you without cover when you need it – here’s how you can avoid them

Driving a car

What is a car insurance broker?

A car insurance broker is an individual or company who searches the insurance market for you to find the best deal.

What is a ghost broker?

A ghost broker is someone who claims to offer cheap car insurance deals as part of their brokering service, but the deals they’re offering are fake or invalid.

Insurance broker fraud has gone up by 72% between July 2018 and June 2019

According to data collected by the Office for National Statistics, accurate as of October 2019

How do ghost brokers work?

Ghost brokers deploy various methods to commit insurance fraud, but you can generally sort them into the following categories:

  • Forgeries: This is when the ghost broker forges documents to make them look authentic papers from an insurance provider. The broker will then sell the fake insurance policy to you for a fee – but you won’t be covered
  • Falsifications: Ghost brokers might also purchase a real insurance policy using fake details – usually to make you seem like a lower-risk driver in order to get a cheaper premium. They’ll then use the forgery technique described above to make it look as though the policy belongs to you, however you won’t be able to claim on it
  • Cancellations: Lastly the broker might take out a real policy in your name, but once you’ve paid them for the policy and their broking services they’ll cancel it and pocket the refund – leaving you without any cover in place

What happens if I buy insurance from a ghost broker?

If you do take out a car insurance policy from someone who turns out to be a ghost broker, it’s possible you won’t find out until you have to make a claim.

As it’s illegal to drive a vehicle without at least third-party cover in place, you risk:

  • A fixed penalty
  • Points on your driving licence
  • Your car being seized by police
  • A charge to retrieve your car from an impound lot
  • The possibility of your car being destroyed
  • Having to pay compensation and claim costs if you’re involved in an accident

These are the penalties that can be imposed by the courts if you’re aware that your insurance policy is fake when you buy it, so if you can prove you’re genuinely the victim of a ghost broker then the motor insurance bureau (MIB) might cover your liability.

What do I do if I think I’ve bought insurance from a ghost broker?

If you’ve bought a policy already and you don’t believe it’s legitimate, check your vehicle’s insurance status with the motor insurance database. You can also contact the insurer themselves – but don’t go through the broker who sold you the policy.

Keep in mind that if the broker is offering a deal that seems too good to be true, it probably is – offers such as ‘all vehicles insured’ or ‘75% discounts’ for example. Likewise keep an eye out for brokers who immediately offer cover without getting your information or details.

What if I get insurance documents in the post that I don’t recognise?

If you receive documents in the post referring to an insurance policy in someone else’s name, or an insurance policy in your name you don’t recognise, it might be because your details were used as part of a fraudulent insurance scheme. It’s best to call the insurer directly and ask to speak with their fraud department, and then report the crime to Action Fraud.

How can I avoid ghost brokers when buying car insurance?

When you take out a car insurance policy through a broker, keep the following in mind to make sure your cover is legit:

Know where to spot fraudsters

Remember ghost brokers like to avoid leaving a trail, so it should ring alarm bells if they try to contact you through:

  • Social media or messaging apps
  • Online public forums
  • University message boards
  • Clubs, pubs and bars
  • A motor garage

Buy from legitimate sources

You should always try to buy insurance policies from trusted sources, such as:

Compare cheap car insurance quotes with MoneySuperMarket

It’s easier to find cheap car insurance quotes when you compare policies on MoneySuperMarket. Just tell us a little about yourself, your driving history and the car or cars you want to insure, and we’ll show you a list of deals from a range of FCA-approved insurers tailored to your requirements.

You’ll be able to compare quotes by the overall annual and monthly premiums you’ll pay, the level of cover you’ll get and any extras included in the offer. Once you’ve found the deal you want, just click through to the provider to finalise your purchase.

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