Criminal convictions and your car insurance

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Criminal convictions can affect your life in many ways but do they have any impact on your insurance?

Man arrested

When getting an insurance quote online or over the phone you may find yourself subject to questions about any criminal convictions you may have. Some car insurers are only interested in knowing the specifics about motoring convictions, while others will want to know the details of all criminal convictions.

Why are criminal convictions relevant?

When it comes to car insurance and why you need to provide certain information, working out your level of risk is nearly always the reason behind it. And that’s the case with insurers who ask about criminal convictions.

All convictions aren’t equal. For example, if you’ve had a fine for not having a TV licence, you probably needn’t worry too much about your premiums. You’ll be more likely to present a bigger risk to your insurance company if you’ve been convicted of a crime such as insurance fraud, or you’re looking for convicted driver insurance or drink driving insurance.

What do I need to disclose?

It all depends on which company you approach for your insurance needs.

Price-comparison websites tend to ask you to disclose more information because they’re asking questions on behalf of a range of insurance companies, each of which will have different acceptance criteria.

If you’ve received a policy caution or reprimand, you won’t need to disclose these to your insurance company.

If you’re convicted of a crime during the term of your policy, you should disclose this information to your insurer when you renew your insurance.

If you’re in doubt about whether you need to tell your insurer about a criminal conviction, it’s always wise to disclose as much information as possible. Remember, anything that isn’t relevant to your insurance won’t adversely affect your policy.

What happens if you fail to disclose a conviction when asked?

Withholding information regarding a criminal past, for whatever reason, is illegal and could mean you’ve violated the terms of your insurance policy.

In these circumstances, your insurer could cancel your policy and you might not be able to claim should disaster strike in your home or car.

What about ‘spent’ convictions’?

Convictions are considered ‘spent’ following a certain time. After that, your insurance company won’t be able to take these into account under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

As of 2013, you’re no longer legally required to let your insurance company know if you have any ‘spent criminal convictions’. It’s your insurance company’s responsibility to make sure it asks for all the relevant details it needs to make sure you are a suitable candidate for cover.

If you have a conviction, you can learn more about when your conviction will become spent.