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Tag: Insurance

If you’ve got an unspent conviction you might want to think twice before using a comparison website for insurance

We all know that using a comparison website is a really quick and easy way of getting a range of quotes for things like insurance or other utilities.

However, if you’ve got an unspent conviction then using a comparison website may not be the best option for you and we’d always advise that you contact insurers directly to get a quote.

Our helpline was contacted recently by a lady who’d used a comparison site to get a quote for motor insurance. She provided details of her partner’s unspent conviction as she wanted to add him to the policy, and was surprised to find that the premium was much less than she’d thought it would be.

The following day, the insurer cancelled her policy due to the non-disclosure of her partner’s criminal record and told her that when purchasing insurance in the future, she’d need to disclose not only the unspent conviction but also the fact that she’d had insurance cancelled due to non-disclosure.

We were able to help this lady prove to the insurer that the conviction had been disclosed as she’d kept screenshots from the comparison site’s application form. Following investigation it was found that some coding on the comparison site had been set to ignore some of the data which was passed to insurers; namely data relating to convictions.

Comparison sites earn their money based upon the number of quotes they generate. By omitting to provide insurers with details of someone’s criminal record, the insurer will be able to quote a lower price; the potential customer will be ‘hooked’ and will go ahead with the purchase. It’s only when the insurer checks the insurance databases that unspent convictions can come to light (for example, checking MyLicence for driving offences) and they may cancel your policy. If you’re unable to provide evidence that you did disclose then there is very little you’ll be able to do to have your policy reinstated.

If you’re having difficulty in getting insurance due to an unspent conviction then have a look at our list of motor insurers and  list of insurance brokers.

For more information

  1. For practical self-help information – More information is available on insurance and motoring offences
  2. Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline.

Will my criminal record cause me a problem if I want to hire a car?

With the summer fast approaching, you may be thinking about hiring a car to head off on your holidays. But, how likely are you to run into problems if you have a criminal record? We’ve just produced some new information which will hopefully clarify this for you.

Car rental companies in the UK are legally required to check your full driving licence before they will allow you to hire a car. So if you have an unspent motoring conviction it’s likely that you’ll find it more difficult to hire a car from one of the larger car hire companies.

It’s much better news if you have an unspent non-motoring conviction as very few hire companies will ask about these. However, we’d always recommend that you check the small print of any hire agreement or insurance documentation.

More information

  1. For practical information – More information on hiring a car if you have a criminal recordmotoring offences and insurance
  2. To discuss this with others – Read and share your experience on our online forum
  3. Questions – If you have any questions about this you can contact our helpline.

Moving on: Getting insurance if you’ve been to prison

In November 2016, we wrote an article for Inside Times ‘Through the Gate’ section which focused on the problems of getting insurance if you’ve got a criminal record.

It was written as a series of questions and answers and a copy of the article can be found below.

I’m just about to leave prison and have been told that it might be difficult to get insurance for my new flat and business. Is that right?

It’s true that most mainstream insurers discriminate against people with unspent convictions and you are probably going to struggle to get house or commercial insurance with them. Every mainstream insurer (except some car insurers) have blanket bans on people with unspent convictions and will usually refuse to even provide you with a quote.

So, isn’t it better just to not disclose?

No. It’s unlikely that an insurer will find out about your conviction when you take out your policy unless they are alerted to it. The problem will come if you need to make a claim as this is when an insurer would normally take more interest in your criminal record. The insurer will want to check with you the details they have and, if you tell them something different to what you told them when you took out the policy, they may want to investigate further. If the claim you’re making is quite big, they may do an internet search against your name to see if anything flags up. They may even ask you to agree to have a basic criminal record check.

If your unspent conviction comes to light, your insurer could then refuse or reduce your claim or, in a worst case scenario, the police could prosecute you for lying when you took out the policy. So, not disclosing if you’re asked is a huge risk to take.

Will anybody insure me?

Yes! Since 1999, we’ve been working with a range of brokers to develop cover for people with unspent convictions and we publish a list of those who specialise in providing insurance for people with unspent convictions. Some of them will be familiar to Inside Times readers as they advertise in this paper. We’ve also put together a list of mainstream motor insurers who only take motoring convictions into account.

Our list of brokers and motor insurers is available to download from our website or by writing to our office address. One of the most important pieces of advice is to shop around and not simply take the first quote you’re offered.

Do things get any better when my conviction is spent?

Yes. Once your conviction becomes spent the picture is much rosier. Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (as amended in 2014), if you received a prison sentence of four years or less, your conviction will become spent at some time in the future. For example, a 2 year sentence as an adult becomes spent four years after the end of the full sentence. We’ll look at how this legislation works in more detail in a future article.

Once spent, you won’t need to disclose your conviction to insurers and they’re not legally allowed to consider your convictions. However, insurers don’t always make it clear that people don’t need to disclose their spent convictions and we’ve seen insurers ask questions such as:

Have you or anyone who normally lives with you ever been convicted of, or charged with any offence (other than a driving offence)?

If you see a question like this, you should interpret it as only relating to unspent convictions. If the convictions are spent, you can say no.

What else should I know?

If an insurer doesn’t ask about convictions, check any documentation that you receive to make sure that the information they have about you is correct. We’ve seen examples where individuals were not asked about convictions, but when they were sent the paperwork to sign, the section about convictions had been marked with ‘No’.

If an insurer does ask about convictions, make sure you get some form of written confirmation of the information that you’ve disclosed. This will be helpful in the event of any disputes about what you’ve disclosed.

Don’t rely on a telephone call being recorded – get proof in writing.

If your conviction will become spent in the future, find out when this is so that you don’t disclose it for longer than you have to.



Update to list of motor insurers

We’ve made some minor updates to the list of motor insurers.

In particular, we’ve added the details of More Than. As well as asking about motor convictions, they only ask about convictions relating to fraud or dishonesty. They don’t seem to give a definition to these two phrases, so if in doubt, you should check with them first, but those convictions which are obviously not in those categories do not need to be disclosed (as well as not needing to disclose anything that is spent).

Also, we’ve left the details of the Co-op on the list, because their online system doesn’t ask about non-motoring convictions. However, we’ve had reports from individuals saying that they’ve been asked by the Co-op when they’ve spoken to them over the phone. If this has been your experience, please let us know.

Changes to insurance disclosure

The reason for this update is to let you know of some changes to insurance disclosure, which came into force in April 2013, which should help many people with convictions. We updated the guidance on our website at the time, but to raise awareness of this, we thought we’d send around an e-update as well!

For many years, people with convictions have found themselves in a difficult situation when purchasing insurance. This is because of archaic insurance law dating back to the Marine Insurance Act 1906, which imposed heavy duties on all consumers to disclose all material facts, even if the insurer didn’t ask about them specifically. If you failed to guess what the insurer wanted to know, your claim could be rejected.

In 2008, the Law Commission consulted on whether the law should be changed. Unlock made a submission which highlighted the problems that the law caused for people with convictions. Following this consultation, the Law Commission recommended a change in the law. Unlock, along with a number of other consumer organisations (including Age UK, Consumer Focus and Which?), worked hard to push the Government to change the law. This was successful in March 2012, when the Consumer Insurance (Disclosure and Representations) Act 2012 received Royal Assent.

The Consumer Insurance (Disclosure and Representation) Act 2012 came into force on 6th April 2013. It removes the duty on consumers to volunteer ‘material facts’ if about certain convictions (e.g. non-motoring convictions). Previously, you had to disclose all unspent criminal convictions, regardless of whether you were asked about them. This is no longer the case.
The onus now sits squarely with the insurer to ask you the questions that they want to know information about. Instead of a duty to volunteer material facts, now the law requires you to answer the questions that are put to you fully and accurately. You need to “take reasonable care”, and one of the factors that will be taken into account is whether the questions asked by the insurer were clear and specific.

For more information

We’ve published a guide on the changes to insurance disclosure. We’ve also updated our simple and detailed guides, as well as updating our list of insurance brokers and list of motor insurers. As always, all of this can be downloaded from the insurance section of our website.

Can you help us improve our lists?

Since these changes have come in, some insurers have changed the questions they ask. Some mainstream motor insurers, for example, have started asking about non-motoring convictions, meaning we’ve had to take them off our specific list of motor insurers that didn’t ask about non-motoring convictions.

However, there are many other insurers that ask quite specific questions about convictions (e.g. convictions in the last 5 years). For these insurers, even if your conviction is unspent, if it was after this period, you do not need to disclose.

As a result, we’re in the process of reviewing our list of motor insurers, to identify more mainstream companies that do not ask about certain convictions. We’re also looking to produce a similar list of home insurers, providing details of companies that ask quite specific questions. If you come across any specific insurers that you think should be included in either of these, please let us know by emailing the details to

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