Insurance cold callers? Meet the cure
First published 21 April 2017 • Updated 25 January 2018
You know those films in which the muggers attack a defenceless old man, only to discover he’s a kung fu master? A similar sort of shock awaited the poor insurance scammer who cold-called insurance compliance specialist Kathryn Knowles of Cura Special Risks Bureau. Kathryn explains what happened next…
I had a delightful chat with a caller the other day who told me I must review my insurance. The man gave me to understand that he knew I had insurance, that he knew what I had, and that it related to my mortgage.
Here’s the gist of our conversation.
Him: Hi! You have insurance on your mortgage, and you should have been advised to review it every 18 months.
Me: Yes, I have insurance covering my mortgage.
Him: Brilliant! So you have the cover that you need for your mortgage of...?
Me: Yes, I have cover for my mortgage. Which of my policies are you referring to?
Him: The one for your mortgage.
Me: O…kay. I have a few policies. Can you be more specific?
Him: Well, we represent Insurer A, Insurer B and Insurer C.
Now it began to get interesting. To be honest, I felt a little sorry for the chap. All he had was my number flashing up on an auto-dialler. Obviously his machine made no mention of the fact that I was a compliance officer within the insurance industry. And a Taurus.
Me: Can you please tell me where are you calling from?
Him: Delboy’s Dodgy Insurance [not their real name; the number on my screen indicated the Swansea region].
Me: What is your name?
Him: John [or something equally suspect].
Now my favourite part.
Me: What’s your company FCA number?
Him: W- w- why, why, do you want to know that?
Me: I would like to make sure that you are a legitimate company.
Him: I cannot give out that information to you.
(I may or may not have cracked my knuckles at this point.)
Me: Well, yes you can, because it is my right as a customer to make sure that you are a legitimate company.
Him: We are a legitimate Limited company.
Me: Well, good for you, but I don’t care about that. I want to see that you are on the FCA register as an accredited company.
Him: I can’t give you that information.
Me: Well, let me give you some information instead. I own my own insurance brokerage and I am a compliance officer.
Deathly silence on the line.
Me: I want to know your FCA number, since you have told me I have insurance with Insurers A, B or C, none of which I have.
Him: I didn’t say that.
Me: Yes you did. You informed me that you represented those three insurers, which is misrepresentation on your part. You have also failed to tell me if you are recording this call.
Him: We do record our calls.
Me: So that is at least your second mistake.
Let’s just say that very soon after that exchange, he hung up. So rude. I was just beginning to enjoy myself.
Kathryn’s five self-defence tips against insurance scams
- Do not volunteer information prompted by vague details
- Don’t tell them what insurance you have in place – make them tell you
- Do not give any personal details
- Ask them to go through data protection that only your insurance provider/broker would know, e.g. date of birth, postcode, type of insurance that you have, and the sum assured that you have in place
- Get their company FCA number
- This is your right as a customer
- When you have the number, search for the company on the FCA register https://register.fca.org.uk
- Gather as much information on them as you can
- Make a note of the number they are calling from
- Get the caller’s name
- Note the date and time
- Get the company’s name
- Ask them where their offices are based
- If you used an insurance broker, find their details on your documentation and call them direct
- They will be able to tell you if the call is legitimately from them reviewing your cover
- Report the call
- If you believe you have received a scam insurance phone call, report as much detail as you can to Trading Standards
It is sad but true that some companies deliberately set out to confuse and deceive consumers. Frankly, it makes my blood boil that a few scammers can create consumer distrust, so that it’s much harder for legitimate businesses to be taken seriously. For this reason, at the Special Risks Bureau our company policy is only to contact clients who have registered their details directly with us, or through an introducing broker. So if you get a cold call, be on your guard.
Kathryn Knowles is compliance officer at Cura, the Special Risks Bureau (from whom you will never receive a cold call).
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