These days, it seems that there is some new scam popping up around every corner when you least expect it, and that is especially true of drivers, whether it is a car, van, bike or motorhome. After all, any kind of motoring is expensive, especially when it comes to insurance. This, unfortunately, makes us vulnerable to being preyed on by unscrupulous individuals intent on tricking us.
Well Known Insurance Scams
We’re all aware of the ‘crash for cash’ scams. Nasty individuals that will trick you into an accident, typically by stopping suddenly in front of you and then making massively inflated claims for damage, personal injury and extras such as replacement car hire. This has resulted in many drivers installing dashboard cameras to protect them from falling for this type of scam.
However, fewer people will be aware of the lesser known ‘flash for cash’ trick. This involves an individual enticing you to cross a road junction by flashing their lights and then proceeding to cause you to hit their vehicle when you do so.
The law states that the vehicle that pulls out of a junction is at fault, therefore making you responsible for causing the crash. Commercial drivers of vehicles such as vans or lorries are a likely target in this instance since the victim (the van driver) is apparently less likely to challenge liability.
Scary Ghost Brokers
An even more worrying scam that has recently emerged, probably as a result of the anonymity of the internet, is that of ghost brokers. This is a particularly unpleasant type of fraud as it leaves its victims at best breaking the law, uninsured, out of pocket because of fines and at risk of losing their vehicle (van, car or bike) which may be impounded.
At worst, should the uninsured driver have an accident, they could then find themselves having to stump up for any repairs themselves and be liable for any damages to other involved parties. As if this was not spooky enough, being unaware that you have bought a fake policy is no defence!
How a Ghost Broker Works
You wouldn’t think at first glance that it would be easy for anyone to set up a fake insurance policy but these ghouls have found a way. Common tactics include:
- Taking out a genuine insurance policy, on your behalf, then simply cancelling the policy once they’ve got their grubby little fingers on your cash. You’ll be none the wiser until the law catches up with you and, by then, they’ll be long gone with your dosh.
- Simply forging the insurance documents. Nowadays, with such technological advances, it is possible to fake almost anything and these forgeries can look very convincing. They can even create plausible imitations of well-known and respected insurance company’s logos and branding to make their fakes more believable.
- A third tactic used is to actually purchase a real policy, one with nice low premiums, by giving false details about you. This scam works best on drivers who would ordinarily have high premiums, such as young males, and drivers who have a history of claims or have incurred penalties on their driving licence.
How to be a Ghost Buster
- First of all, consider if your insurance premiums are surprisingly cheap. The old adage of ‘if it looks too good to be true’ should apply here.
- Make sure that you use a legitimate insurance broker and not someone from an unusual source such as social media or online forums. They’ll even try selling these fake policies in pubs, clubs and bars as well as car repair shops. So think twice before you take out a policy from someone from these sources. Better still, check they are bone fide on the BIBA website.
- Be especially vigilant if you are in the main target group of young male drivers, though these aren’t the only group of drivers they prey on. Other vulnerable groups include anyone who finds that their premiums are higher than average because of circumstances such as the area you drive, previous motoring offences or lack of no claims bonus.
- Check your insurance status on the Motor Insurers’ Database here. Just be aware that this will only inform you of whether your vehicle is insured but not whether all the details are correct. If you have any suspicions at all, it’s probably wise to contact your insurance company directly to make sure that everything is as it should be.
- When you are looking for insurance, it’s worth using a transparent comparison website such as uswitch. There are also specialist comparison websites for vehicles such as vans; www.comparevaninsurance.com, for instance, compares van, motorhome and campervan insurance.
Above all, it pays to be aware, check out your insurance provider carefully, don’t be tempted by a cheap deal, especially if it has come from an unusual source, and be sure to pay attention to the small print.