In many cases, getting home insurance in the United Kingdom is more expensive for those with a criminal conviction in their background. Insurance companies consider such people high-risk clients, and some companies will completely refuse to insure you when they find out about any prior convictions. For these reasons, it’s important to know when you are legally obligated to report convictions and when it’s unnecessary in order to save yourself a lot of time, hassles and money.
Do you have to tell insurance companies about your criminal convictions?
Generally, the law requires you to report your criminal convictions to home insurance companies because they are “material facts.” Even if an insurance application form does not ask for this information, you must report your criminal record upfront. If you don’t report your conviction history, you’ll face fraud charges from the insurance company because they’ll consider your neglect to disclose the information an intentional attempt to lie for lower insurance rates. An insurance company can also cancel your policy or refuse your claims if they discover you didn’t report unspent convictions to them. When sharing your criminal record, be sure to get a copy of a formal statement from them that you’ve made the disclosure for your records.
The good news is that you don’t have to report criminal convictions to home insurance companies if the government classifies them as “spent.” Most convictions in which the rehabilitation period has ended and the original sentence was only 2.5 years or less are spent convictions that you can legally omit from insurance applications.
In case you happen to get a criminal conviction while you already have an open home insurance policy in effect, you don’t always have to report it to your insurance company unless they require you to do so in the terms and conditions of your contract, so read through it carefully to find out.
How do I know if my conviction is legally “spent”?
The British National Association of Reformed Offenders offers a free, online tool to learn when your conviction becomes spent at www.disclosurecalculator.org.uk. For 25 pounds, you can also order an official report of all your unspent convictions from Disclosure Scotland at www.diclosurescotland.co.uk. Keep in mind that this report can only be valid from the date of your application and only shows unspent convictions. If you have further questions about whether or not your conviction is spent or when it will become so, call the National Resettlement Plus Helpline at 020-7840-6464 or email them at email@example.com.
The Police National Computer database will store all of your offences permanently in your record; however, it’s against British law for anyone to disclose spent convictions without receiving direct authorisation to do so.
What are my home insurance rights if my conviction is unspent?
While home insurance companies can legally charge you higher rates for your policy due to unspent convictions, The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act from 1974 guarantees you certain rights to help you get insured. Guidelines created by the Association of British Insurers and the National Association of Reformed Offenders in 2011 state that insurance companies should give clear details about how they set policy prices for someone with past convictions. Insurance companies also have a responsibility to offer home insurance to anyone with a conviction history when possible, and furthermore, if they decide they cannot offer insurance, they should make efforts to help an applicant with a conviction record find another insurance provider.