Why this so-called “ brokerage ” website caught the attention of RIBO Canadian Underwriter
Hidden Ace Brokerage, which claims to “fight high insurance rates” in the Greater Toronto Area, and says it is “proud to provide the quotes that insurance companies don’t want you to see”, is not authorized to place a house or automobile. insurance in Ontario, warns registered Ontario insurance brokers.
A characteristic of “Hidden Ace Brokerage“Site that has caught the attention of brokers is that the organization offers commissions of up to $ 50 per sale to website visitors who sign up for Hidden Ace’s” affiliate “program.
“Commissions can be paid for all kinds of things in other industries and markets, but are regulated in financial services, so it gets a bit tricky of a legal definition as to the legalities of what they say on their site.” Web, ”Colin Simpson, CEO of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario, said Canadian insurer in an interview on Friday.
RIBO contacted the IBAO a few weeks ago to ask if the IBAO had any complaints about Hidden Ace, Simpson said. Canadian insurer.
In a press release issued Thursday, RIBO said Hidden Ace is not a RIBO-listed brokerage firm and is not licensed to sell auto, damage or damage insurance to the public in Ontario.
Canadian insurer asked Hidden Ace Friday for its mailing address, legal name, whether the company is licensed by RIBO, who owns it, and whether Hidden Ace employs licensed brokers. At the time of publication, Canadian insurer hadn’t heard from Hidden Ace.
“We don’t know who is operating it,” said Tim Goff, RIBO’s director of complaints and investigations. “They did not answer our questions, which led to the publication of the press release. The fact that they did not respond only heightens the concern. “
RIBO said he started looking into Hidden Ace after hearing reports from multiple sources. RIBO is not aware of any consumers who have tried to do business with Hidden Ace, Goff said.
“We don’t know what their goal is. If it was just a quote engine, there would be no reason for them not to contact us, ”said Goff.
“Every consumer needs to be more aware of who they are dealing with. It’s like buying anything on the Internet, ”said Simpson Canadian insurer Friday.
“If someone even suggested on a quote engine that they could provide coverage through the website, or it looked like they were posing as a broker, [RIBO] would be in contact with them, ”Goff said.
On its website, Hidden Ace lists a phone number and email address. It also has a Frequently Asked Questions page with information on the different types of auto insurance coverage and how insurers tend to rate auto risk.
Visitors to the site are greeted by a chatbot. A journalist who visited the site was greeted, in a fraction of a second, by a chatbot identifying himself as “Lexi”. The chatbot asks the visitor to enter their full name in the chatbot in order to “get started” on a home and / or car insurance quote.
“Our mission is to fight the high insurance rates people in the Greater Toronto Area face, we pride ourselves on providing the quotes insurance companies don’t want you to see!” The rates we find out are usually 20-40% lower than what customers pay! »Claims Hidden Ace.
“It is probably difficult for a consumer to discern [if an organization] is not a valid broker, but that’s why we have regulators, ”Simpson said. “It’s no surprise that someone is trying to make a website that is as professional as possible to attract people.”
The Hidden Ace site contains a link titled “Win With Us”. This link will take you to a page with a web form that consumers can use to earn a commission. Its so-called commission structure uses playing card terminology. For example, an “Ace” with 50 referrals would get $ 50 per sale, while a “king” with 30 referrals could get $ 40 per sale.
“If YOU want to be part of the movement to SAVE money AND GET PAID to help others save money; NOW YOU CAN !! Says Hidden Ace.
Simpson said Canadian insurer When he checked out Hidden Ace a few weeks ago on Friday, he found out he was claiming to have insurance for Sonnet and The Co-operators. Friday, Canadian insurer could not find a reference on the Hidden Ace website to any of Hidden Ace’s purported insurance partners.
Those references appear to have been removed, Simpson observed. “The website has clearly changed since I last visited it a few weeks ago.”
Two weeks ago, at least half a dozen insurers were on the list of suspected Hidden Ace partners, RIBO’s Goff said. It included the logos of several insurers as well as the RIBO logo.
RIBO has contacted the alleged partner carriers, and they have denied having any contracts with Hidden Ace, Goff said.
Generally speaking, one way to “cheat” a consumer is to pose as an insurance broker and accept payment over the phone, Simpson said.
The consumer may find that “nothing is showing up for your money, or maybe fraudulent pink slips could appear,” Simpson said. “Consumers should have the time to consider everything they are told and verify it before making a purchase.”
Such verification would consist of executing the name of a purported broker on the RIBO website.