Warning over ‘ghost brokers’ selling fake motor insurance

Consumers urged to only buy insurance directly from an insurer or authorised broker

Gardaí have warned consumers over the dangers of buying motor insurance from unregulated sources.

Gardaí have warned consumers over the dangers of buying motor insurance from unregulated sources.

 

Consumers have been warned to be wary of ‘ghost brokers’ whereby fake motor insurance brokers sell invalid insurance cover.

In a statement, the Garda said insurance policies were being purchased from legitimate companies using false information and then changed before being sold on to customers.

In addition, fake policy documents designed to look like they have been issued by legitimate insurance companies are created and sold on to customers.

Gardai said proposal forms are being put through a third party before submission to a legitimate insurance company.

“The net effect of this is that the purchaser has not purchased a valid certificate of insurance and has no motor insurance whatsoever and is liable for any damage caused or offence committed as a result of having no motor insurance,” the Garda Press Office said.

Gardaí said the warning was not connected to raids on offices of firms linked to the motor insurance sector on Tuesday morning.

There are two ways to obtain a valid certificate of motor insurance.

Firstly by buying one directly from a reputable insurance company that is authorised and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

Alternatively drivers can purchase one from an authorised insurance broker who is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

Gardaí said if someone was in any doubt, they should contact the Central Bank before purchasing a policy from any person or firm purporting to be selling motor insurance.

“Reputable insurance companies keep a record of insurance intermediaries selling their polices of insurance so check with the parent company if in doubt before purchasing a policy of insurance,” the statement added.

“Motor insurance can be expensive and if a quote appears to be much less expensive than other quotes of insurance the customer should ensure that the recommended checks are conducted before agreeing to purchase the policy.”

Gardaí said also beware of buying insurance policies via unusual sources such as social networks, bars or restaurants or public places.

Gardaí also reminded people that it is a criminal offence to provide false or misleading information for the purpose of obtaining motor insurance cover.

The Central Bank of Ireland said it would encourage anyone intending to engage with a financial service firm to check its online register to ensure it is authorised to provide the service offered.

“If a firm is not registered to provide that service, you should avoid using it. You can check the registers at http://registers.centralbank.ie/,” a spokesman for the Central Bank of Ireland said.

“Whenever we are aware of unauthorised firms in operation, we issue a public warning notice and refer the firm to the gardai. To date, almost 300 unauthorised firms have been the subject of Central Bank warning notices.”

The Cost of Insurance Working Group was set up earlier this year to address the rising cost of motor insurance.

The group has listed a total of 33 actions to reform the industry.