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Getting insurance if you have a criminal conviction

Getting insurance can be difficult if you have a criminal record. But it depends largely on whether you have a ‘spent’ or an ‘unspent’ conviction. Find out what counts as a criminal conviction, how it can affect your chances of getting insurance cover and what you can do about it.

What counts as a criminal conviction?

A criminal conviction can be anything from a prison sentence to a fine for littering or a speeding conviction. All types of offence count, however minor.

When it comes to insurance, the biggest factor is whether your conviction is spent or unspent.

A spent conviction is one that has now been removed from your criminal record, under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

An unspent conviction is one that hasn’t yet reached its defined time limit and will still come up on a basic criminal record check.

You can find out whether your conviction is spent either by:

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When do you have to declare unspent convictions to insurance providers?

  • You only have to disclose convictions if you’re asked.
  • Always get written confirmation of any convictions you’ve disclosed.
  • If you’re not asked directly, check whether the terms and conditions mention convictions.
  • If you get a conviction during a policy, you don’t have to declare it until you renew the insurance. This is unless your policy specifically says that you must.

If you deliberately don’t disclose your convictions when asked by the insurance company, your insurance could be invalid.

This means it won’t pay out when you make a claim on it. If you’ve already made a claim, the insurance company can ask for the money back.

Sometimes these things happen because the insurance company didn’t explain things clearly. If that’s the case, you might be able to get this resolved.

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How does a conviction affect my insurance?

  • Only unspent convictions matter. If your conviction is spent, you don’t need to declare it when you apply for insurance, even if you’re asked.
  • You might be asked about the convictions of everyone covered by the insurance, such as your partner, children or grandchildren. If it’s home insurance, that’s everyone who lives in the house.
  • Simple cautions, reprimands and final warnings are spent immediately and don’t need to be disclosed as these are not criminal convictions.
  • Insurance cover might be more expensive if you have an unspent conviction. Mainstream insurers typically refuse to cover those with unspent convictions. This means the cheapest policies are unlikely to be available to you.

For more on this, read ‘Insurance and convictions – A detailed guide’ on the Unlock website

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How to get insurance if you have a conviction

This is when an insurance broker is probably the best place to start.

A broker can find the right insurance for your circumstances, and will know which providers are most likely to offer cover.

Getting a quote from a broker won’t cost you anything.

Comparison websites are a useful place to shop around for insurance. But if your conviction is unspent, you’ll probably need a specialist or ‘non-standard’ policy. These aren’t available from a mainstream insurer and you won’t find them on a comparison site. This is when a broker can be particularly useful.

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Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free, impartial help for all your money and pension choices. Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free, impartial help for all your money and pension choices. Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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