Insurers consider all sorts of risk factors when it comes to offering a quote for home insurance. Some are obvious such as the address of the property and whether the customer has made a claim before. Others are less so, including questions about any criminal convictions you may have. This might seem unfair but insurers are entitled to ask questions they believe are relevant to the risk.
Some car insurers may only be interested in knowing about motoring convictions, but the chances are that when it comes to insuring your home, insurers will want to know details of all criminal records. A criminal conviction can be anything from a fine to serving a prison sentence and when it comes to insurance, all convictions aren’t equal. Something like a fine for not having a TV licence isn’t likely to impact your risk profile. However, if you’ve been convicted and served time for committing fraud, for example, then some insurers may push the price up or refuse to quote at all.
Insurers aren’t generally just interested in the homeowner; they’ll probably want to know about the convictions of everyone covered by the insurance as this could affect their view of the overall risk. To make sure you are treated fairly, it’s important to understand what you do and don’t need to declare.
First and foremost, you only have to disclose convictions if you are asked. However, a word of caution – if you are not asked directly, don’t make the mistake and think that the insurer isn’t bothered. If your insurer does find out, they may refuse to pay a claim or increase your premium or cancel the policy altogether. It’s better to check the insurer’s terms upfront and provide an honest response.
If you have a simple caution or reprimand or final warning, you don’t need to declare these as they are spent immediately under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (ROA). Once a conviction is ‘spent’ under the ROA, it never has to be disclosed to insurers, even if they ask. Like a lot of legislation, the ROA is pretty complicated and so it can be difficult to know what is and isn’t protected but here are a number of ways that you can work out whether a conviction is spent:
- Use an online tool such as http://www.disclosurecalculator.org.uk/set up by the charity, Unlock
- Obtain a basic disclosure from Disclosure and Barring Service. There is a cost of £25 and it only discloses unspent convictions
Only unspent convictions matter. To be able to get a quote, you’ll probably need to include information about the offence you were convicted for, the date of the sentence and the sentence received. Some insurers may want more to help them come to a decision whether to quote or not, such as circumstances surrounding the offence. As around 9.2 million people in the UK have a criminal conviction, it’s not surprising that insurers want to know.