Friday, 18 September 2015
Can My Insurer Find Out If I Have A Criminal Record?
The short answer is yes. And they will, but they may not check until you actually come to make a claim. In which case, if they discover that you have unspent convictions (if you have not fully discharged your rehabilitation period), then your insurance policy may become void because you failed to declare them when the policy started.
Criminal convictions and your insurance
It is the job of the insurance company underwriter to calculate risk, and if you do not mention your criminal record when asked, you run the risk of paying towards a policy that you will never see any benefit from. But the Catch-22 is that most insurance companies do not want to insure ex-offenders and so home insurance with convictions is sometimes difficult to obtain.
Unspent criminal convictions
Unspent convictions will always have to be disclosed to your insurer, but spent convictions do not have to be disclosed. If you do disclose a spent conviction to an insurer, they are required to disregard this and will not be able to take it into account when calculating your premium.
Relevant or irrelevant
Whether you think your conviction is relevant to your insurance or not, you will still be required to disclose it. Insurers use a variety of factors to assess risk, and it is up to them to determine to what degree (if any) your conviction might affect your policy. In the eyes of the law, you have a duty to "disclose material facts". Regardless of whether or not you are asked about your record, because unspent convictions are regarded as material facts, you will always have to declare it to your insurer.
What if I took insurance out in my partner's name?
You cannot dodge the need to declare. Taking out a policy in a partner's name will not allow you to avoid disclosure, as it does not negate the material fact. Even if you are living in someone else's household, or if you have someone with a criminal record living in yours, you are still required to provide information to the insurer.
Failure to disclose
Failure to disclose your unspent convictions when obtaining insurance can have extremely serious consequences. Firstly (as stated above) your insurer will not be obliged to pay out in the event of a claim, nor will you be entitled to the return of any payments that you have made. These rules also apply to homeowners who have someone with undisclosed/unspent convictions living in their household. Because an omission of disclosure is in breach of the law, you would also be exposed to prosecution for attempted fraud.
It is sadly true that many insurance companies will reject your application if you have unspent criminal convictions, simply because you don't fit their preferred customer profile. With HomeProtect you can obtain an immediate online home insurance quote, regardless of any outstanding criminal convictions you (or anyone in your household) might hold. We are proud to be working in association with the independent charity UNLOCK, the National Association of Reformed Offenders, toward developing access to fair insurance for people with criminal convictions.