Insurance lawyer Patrick Connolly has warned that Northern Ireland motorists are being targeted by fraudulent online ads for “ghost brokers”.
Mr Connolly, partner at BLM in Belfast, said ghost brokers lure victims through online advertisements offering fraudulent policies around 15 per cent cheaper than those offered by legitimate companies. In many cases, the victims are unaware the policy is invalid.
Ghost brokers operate by sourcing a cheap quote from legitimate brokers by entering false details about the policy holder. These incorrect pieces of information can include bogus addresses, inaccurate ages and fake previous claim histories.
Once they receive the policy documents, the scammers then doctor the papers before forwarding to the customers, who believe they have received legitimate and accurate cover.
Some have also been known to forge policies, creating replica policy documents and passing them off as genuine.
Mr Connolly said: “Similar to driving without any insurance, buying a fake policy comes with consequences. Your car may be seized by police; you may face a fixed penalty notice of £300; and you may have to pay to recover your car from the pound. This is all in addition to the cost of purchasing new, legitimate insurance. You could also be liable for any damage you cause in an accident while driving without insurance, which could include compensation if you injure someone.
“In order to avoid buying a fake insurance policy insure your broker is FCA registered and beware of buying insurance policies from unusual sources such as social networks or online trading sites. Also ensure that your insurance provider is a Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) member. You can check if your car is insured and registered on the Motor Insurance Database online.”
He added: “Many ghost brokers target those on a tight budget, which applies to even more people at this time of the year.
“Therefore, I encourage everyone to ensure they fully research any policy before taking it out and remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!”