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There’s nothing more ghostly than a ghost broker. Except for maybe actual ghosts.  These fraudsters are the spirits of the insurance world, haunting honest drivers with their deceitful ways.

Ghost broking is when scammers sell fake car insurance policies and pocket the premiums. It’s estimated that around 21,000 people in the UK fell for this particular scam in 2021 alone.

These scammers often target young and vulnerable people. They’re often advertising in student groups and claim they can get you cheap car insurance deals. But, these deals often don’t materialise.

So what exactly is ghost broking? And how can you stay safe and insured?

What is ghost broking?

Ghost broking is a type of fraud that involves selling fake car insurance policies.

Ghost brokers often create fake social media profiles that look like legitimate insurance businesses. They usually operate online because it’s much easier to catfish people that way and remain anonymous, but they can be found in the real world.

They lure their victims in by offering them low car insurance prices or promising insurance when a victim has had difficulty landing a policy.

Once the victim has paid up,  the ghost broker will disappear, leaving the victim with an invalid policy and no way to get their money back.

How do ghost brokers work?

If a ghost broker approaches you, they’ll usually offer you an incredible car insurance deal that seems too good to be true.

They’ll then ask for your personal details and payment information. They’ll use these details to buy an insurance policy from a legitimate insurance company.

But this is where things get sneaky.

The details the ghost broker provides to the legitimate insurance company will be fake. It won’t be your information they’ll hand in.

They’ll receive the insurance docs and edit them to reflect your info. Then, they’ll send you a doctored insurance policy.

When you get your insurance policy, it’ll look legitimate. It’ll have the details you provided on there, but this will be a forgery.

Then, the ghost broker will cancel the policy. You won’t be notified, because the ghost broker never submitted your real contact details. The ghost broker will obtain a full refund and pocket it.

Like we said, sneaky. Also, illegal obviously.

The end result? You’ll be left in a precarious situation with no insurance and out of pocket too. And you’ll be none the wiser until you need to claim or renew your policy.

Ghost broking: Do you have car insurance?

Unfortunately, if you’ve taken out your car insurance with a ghost broker, you’re not insured. And you could be pulled over by police for being uninsured.

Still, that’s probably preferable to getting in an accident and realising you’re not insured after the fact.

It’s also unlikely you’ll have any recourse because the ghost broker will have probably vanished into thin air by that point. You know, just like a real ghost.

Honestly, being ghosted by a ghost broker is so much worse than that rando who ghosted you on Bumble after your one coffee date where you turned up wearing your shirt inside out by accident.

But that whole ghosting bit is not even the worst part. Even though it might cause #emotionaldamage.

But let’s get serious, for a minute. You’ve handed over your personal and financial information to a criminal. This person can do a lot more damage if they wish.

And, legally speaking, you could face penalties for driving uninsured – take a look at our guide “Do I need car insurance?“.  This means you could get points on your licence and face fines, too.

As you can see, falling for this scam has serious implications. But there are some red flags to look out for so you can stay safe.

Ghost broking: The red flags to look for when taking out car insurance

Remember, ghost brokers could target anyone, but usually look for people who struggle to get insurance or don’t understand how car insurance works in the UK. Recently qualified drivers, people with lots of points or claims, or those who have recently arrived in the UK are prime targets.

When it comes to taking out short term car insurance, the golden rule applies: if something is too good to be true, it probably is.

Is some dodgy gal offering you an unbelievably good car insurance deal over WhatsApp or Messenger? Maybe hold off before you hand over all your personal and financial information to them.

Here’s what to look for:

  • Check the seller has a legitimate website, a UK phone number (ideally a landline), and an address.
  • If you’re buying through a broker, they could be registered with British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA).
  • If you’re buying directly through an insurer, check they’re a member of the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB).
  • Check that the insurance advisor is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Anyone advertising and selling car insurance in the UK has to pass stringent checks, and hold formal approvals that are recorded and shown on the websites above.

Finally, be extra cautious if someone is offering you something you can’t otherwise get – often, this is the biggest red flag to pay attention to.

The best way to avoid being scammed by a ghost broker is to be vigilant and do your research before buying any car insurance policy.

All of this might seem like a lot of work, but it’s nothing compared to the headache (and heartache) you’ll experience if you hand over your hard-earned cash to a ghost broker.

What do I do if I’ve been scammed by a ghost broker?

Okay, we could tell you not to panic but that’ll be about as useful as your ghost-brokered insurance policy after a car accident. So not at all. Soz.

Instead, here are some practical steps you can take if you think you’ve been the victim of a ghost broker.

Firstly, don’t use your car if you don’t think it has appropriate insurance. You might be thinking – well, duh. But it needs to be said.

Then, check the Motor Insurance Database (MID) to see if your car is insured. Every insurance company in the UK has to send the details of all insured cars to the MID.

The AskMID website allows you to check whether your car is insured in seconds. Are you new to AskMID? Let’s change that with an easy to digest read that will tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about AskMID.

Now, don’t immediately freak out if it looks like your car’s uninsured; if you took out the policy less than two days ago, the system might not have updated yet. But if it’s been longer than that, then something might be amiss.

Then, call your insurance company and ask them if you’re actually insured with them. Hopefully, they say yes and this is all just a big misunderstanding.

But, if they say no, you’ll probably need to speak to their anti-fraud department and then report it to the Insurance Fraud Bureau.

At this point, you’ll likely want to get the police involved as well.

There’s no guarantee you’ll get your money back or see justice, but these steps give you the best chance of fixing the situation.

Can I get Zixty’s short term car insurance through a broker?

If someone is selling our short term car insurance on social media, otherwise known as Zixty’s temporary car insurance, then they’re probably scammers.

The best way to get your hands on our insurance is by downloading our app and buying the policy that way. You can choose from hour car insurance to day and week car insurance.

What are insurers doing about ghost broking?

As you can probably imagine, insurers don’t love the fact that innocent people are getting scammed when they’re trying to get the best insurance deal out there.

The insurance industry has invested huge amounts of time and energy battling ghost broking. It’s more difficult than ever for people to buy fake policies, and the information provided at the point of getting a quote is validated carefully.

But, as with all crime, it’s an ongoing battle. As long as there’s a financial incentive, scammers will exploit loopholes.

That’s why it’s so important that you do your homework before you buy any insurance policies.

Ghost brokers: the insurance world’s scariest apparitions

Buying car insurance is stressful enough without having to worry about being scammed by a ghost broker.

Unfortunately, opportunistic scammers run several successful scams within the car insurance industry, including the Fake NCD scam.

But if you know what to look for, it’s easy enough to avoid becoming their next victim.

Just make sure you do your research beforehand, and don’t be afraid to walk away if something doesn’t feel right.