What is a Ghost Broker?
by Michael Walsh | 2 min read April 16th, 2021
'Ghost broking' is form of insurance fraud which involves an illegal insurance intermediary. The ghost broker purchases a policy on behalf of others but purposefully misrepresents important information in order to reduce the price of the policy.
How Do Ghost Brokers Operate?
Ghost brokers operate in the following ways:
- Policies are bought from insurance companies using false information and may be changed before being sold on to customers.
- Fake policy documentation may be created to look like they have been issued by legitimate insurance companies and sold on to customers.
- Ghost Brokers often produce fake No Claims Bonus documentation or alter a customers' genuine document to obtain insurance.
- Typically the policyholder will be charged a fee by the Ghost Broker on top of paying the insurance premium.
Any of the above scenarios will result in an invalid policy, which can subsequently be cancelled or declared void when discovered by the insurer.
Because they are not widely recognised, â€œghost brokersâ€ can cause major problems with insurance policies. Gardai reported that in January 2019, 7 â€œghost brokersâ€ alone were responsible for up to an estimated 9,000 invalid motor policies.
How to Identify a Ghost Broker
Avoid paying for an invalid insurance policy by learning to identify the signs of a â€œghost brokerâ€ and how to report them.
There are many ways to identify if your intermediary may be a â€œghost brokerâ€:
- Location: They may not have an office address, and therefore may ask to meet in a public place or call to your home.
- Advertising: â€œGhost brokersâ€ have been known to use social media groups or classified advertisements on sites used for individuals selling items.
- Phone Number: They may only use a mobile number, as they have no business landline, or even use WhatsappEmail: They may not have a business email and use their own e.g. Gmail/Hotmail account.
- Criteria: They ask fewer questions than a genuine insurer.
- Cheaper: Premium may be significantly cheaper than other quotes obtained by the potential customer.
- Deposit: They look for a large amount of cash up front as a â€œdepositâ€ without giving a receipt.
- Authorisation: They can't provide any evidence they are an authorised intermediary (All insurance intermediaries must be registered with Central Bank and can be checked on the Central Bank of Ireland website).
- Documentation: They offer to provide documentation for the customer. e.g. Proof of No Claim Bonus. They may also only provide an Insurance Certificate and Disc and not the additionalÂ Â Â Â Â documentation that insurance companies are required to issue.
How to Report a Ghost Broker
If you believe you have discovered a â€œghost brokerâ€, check with the relevant insurance company to find out if the intermediary is authorised to sell policies on their behalf. If they are not, or you have found a suspicious advertisement, you should immediately contact your local Garda Station to report the suspected â€œghost brokerâ€ or advertisement. If you suspect any issues related to a policy you have with Allianz, you can contact us on 01 448 48 48 or by email at email@example.com.*
*Calls may be recorded.
This guidance is for general information purposes only. Allianz accepts no responsibility or liability for any losses that may arise from any reliance upon the information contained in this guidance.