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Getting car insurance when you have convictions – what you need to know

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Jan 11, 2017

If you have criminal convictions getting car insurance can be a problem.

This is simply because someone with convictions is a higher risk to insurance companies.

More than nine million people in the UK do have a conviction – the overwhelming number of them are men.

Bear in mind here that we’re talking here about criminal convictions, not speeding fines, parking fines and so on (which you need to declare to insurance companies so long as they are on your licence).

But the fact is that a change in the law in 2013 means that a much more serious criminal conviction in certain circumstances does not need to be declared to an insurance company, while a more trivial thing such as a speeding fine does.

Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA), those whose convictions are old do not need to be disclosed to insurers. They are known as ‘spent.’

Even when asked directly whether you have a conviction, you are able to answer ‘no’.

And the change in the law means that some criminal convictions become ‘spent’ before a less serious driving offence, which may not be a criminal conviction, but which still has to be disclosed.

Sounds complicated? Well, it is fairly.

If you have a criminal conviction you need to know whether it’s spent and the best way to do that is to use the calculator provided here by the charity Unlock.

If your conviction is ‘spent’ you can’t be refused insurance because of it and a claim cannot be refused because of it.

But it’s important to be sure that it is ‘spent.’

If you’re looking at car insurance with a someone else named on the policy, a so-called named driver, then any convictions they have will also be relevant and the same calculation about whether they need to be disclosed has to be made.


Got a conviction? Why not just say nothing?

If your conviction is unspent and you do not declare it, you are laying yourself open to a whole world of potential trouble.

Not only could your insurance claim be refused, there are other more serious potential consequences, if you are found out.


What if I receive a criminal conviction while the policy is in force?

You don’t need to declare this until renewal time, unless the T&Cs say you must.

When renewal time comes around, you can still compare prices online, but make sure you declare what you have to. 


When I have to declare a conviction what will happen?

The fact is that your premium will almost certainly be higher.

How much higher will depend on the insurance company’s policy and the type of convictions you have.

Some may turn you down flat without even quoting a sky-high premium. If you have multiple drink driving convictions, for example, it’s not hard to see why an insurer might ask you to go elsewhere.

There are specialist companies out there, however, and many may regard a relatively trivial or perhaps seemingly irrelevant conviction as one that doesn’t need to send your premium through the roof.


Key points:

If you have a criminal conviction or convictions, find out if they are spent. If they are, you don’t need to disclose them for insurance purposes. You can say “none” when asked if you have any.

You only have to disclose unspent convictions if asked.

Even if you’re not asked specifically (unlikely), check terms and conditions to see if convictions are mentioned there.

If you do disclose convictions, be sure to get confirmation in writing that you have done so, to ensure it can’t later be argued that you failed to disclose them.


Last year 65% of customers didn't switch their car insurance to try and get a better deal.