Scamwatch: "ghost" insurance brokers

Jess Bown
man helping a woman after a car accident
man helping a woman after a car accident

Stay one step ahead of the fraudsters with our series of articles giving you the lowdown on the scams they use to trick people out of their hard-earned cash - and how to avoid being taken in by them.

This week, we investigate the murky world of "ghost" car insurance brokers: criminals who put drivers in danger by selling them fake policies.

How does it work?

Unscrupulous "ghost" insurance brokers are tricking motorists into buying bogus policies, police have warned.

In one recent case, fraudsters used online adverts offering policies at a discount of about 15% on those available from legitimate companies, and even set up a "call centre" to fool potential clients into buying fake policies.

In other cases, "ghost" brokers are also known to have conned people into taking out policies that do exist but are cheaper than normal because they are based on incorrect details - the driver's age, claims history and address, for example - and would therefore offer no protection should the policyholder need to make a claim.

City of London detectives are currently investigating fraudsters who have set up policies for motorists living in London as if they live in northern Scotland, where premiums are lower.

How can I avoid being caught out?

As is so often the case when it comes to scams, you should be wary of any car insurance deal that seems too good to be true.

If all the other policies you have found are significantly more expensive, the cheap deal you are being offered may well be dodgy.

Other ways to protect yourself against fraud of this kind include only buying direct from an insurer or via a reputable broker or comparison website.

You can find a legitimate broker, or check up on one who seems suspicious, by contacting the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA) on 0370 9501790.

I've been defrauded. What should I do?

It is against the law to drive without insurance. So you should stop driving as soon as you realise you have been sold a fake policy.

The same is true if you have been tricked by a broker into buying a policy that does not fit your circumstances, as it will not protect you if you are involved in a road accident.

Take out a new policy with a reputable insurer or broker, and report the fraudulent one to Action Fraud (0300 123 2040).