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Ghost broking is on the rise

News article

Publication date:

08 February 2021

Last updated:

08 February 2021

Author(s):

James Moorhouse

Would you know what to do if a customer tried to claim against a fake policy?

One of the biggest impacts the ongoing pandemic had during 2020 was on the UK economy. Gradually as people became furloughed, redundant or unable to find work, this in turn caused people to re-examine their insurance products, deciding which ones to keep or to look for a better deal elsewhere.

As with most purchases last year, more people started to look online in search of competitive pricing. However this in turn gave fraudulent criminals the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the situation. By impersonating genuine insurance brokers, these ‘ghost brokers’ created spoof adverts online and through social media, selling car insurance products they didn’t actually have.

Action Fraud reported a 10% increase in ghost broking in 2020 compared to the previous year, with people aged 17-29 as the most likely to fall victim to this scam. Detective Chief Inspector Edelle Michaels of the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Department said[1]:

“Whilst the coronavirus pandemic has halted some forms of criminal activity, reports to Action Fraud show that this is certainly not the case for ‘ghost broking’. 2020 saw nearly a 10% increase on the previous year for the total number of reports for this type of fraud, indicating that these fraudsters are still able to operate in the current circumstances.

There have been examples of ‘ghost brokers’ exploiting the pandemic – we have even seen a case of someone offering discounts to NHS workers on fraudulent insurance policies. Clearly fraudsters have no qualms in manipulating vulnerabilities, and with students being in a difficult situation shrouded with uncertainty at the moment, it is vital that they remain wary of this type of fraud.” 

If a customer unknowingly purchased a fake insurance policy they are not only uninsured but also liable for any damages. Ghost broking may not traditionally be seen as a claims issue. However, as the claims stage is where a fake insurance policy will be identified, it is important for claims advisors to be able to respond to this appropriately, even if they can’t pay out a claim at that particular time.

 

If you think your customer is the victim of a ghost broker, you can report your concerns to Action Fraud at actionfraud.police.uk or on 0300 123 2040.

You can also contact the Insurance Fraud Bureau via its confidential Cheatline on 0800 422 0421 or at insurancefraudbureau.org.

 

Find out more about how to help your customer if they claim against a fake policy in our Good Practice Guide on Ghost Broking HERE.

 

[1] https://www.cityoflondon.police.uk/news/city-of-london/news/2021/Template/ifed/city-of-london-police-warns-students-about-the-dangers-of-ghost-broking--ahead-of-national-student-money-week/

This document is believed to be accurate but is not intended as a basis of knowledge upon which advice can be given. Neither the author (personal or corporate), Society of Claims Professionals or Chartered Insurance Institute, or any of the officers or employees of those organisations accept any responsibility for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the data or opinions included in this material. Opinions expressed are those of the author or authors and not necessarily those of the Society or Chartered Insurance Institute.