When applying for insurance you are likely to be asked about any convictions. If you already have insurance cover to drive your car, the detailed terms and conditions of that policy may require you to disclose any new convictions, and potentially end up moving to convicted drivers insurance.
Depending on the seriousness of the convictions, the time ago the offences were committed and the assessment of current risk by the insurer, the response to your application for cover may be met by a number of responses:
- if the conviction was a relatively minor infraction, the insurer may decide to issue a policy as normal;
- in the event of more serious convictions, the insurer may impose penalty points so that you end up paying higher premiums; and
- in certain cases – if you have been convicted of drink driving, for instance – the insurer may reject your application out of hand.
If any conviction has resulted in your being met either by such a refusal to insure or an unreasonably expensive premium, you might want to consider specialist convicted driver insurance.
Just as the name suggests, this is cover provided by certain insurers – such as those of us here at GSI Insurance – who attach less belief in past convictions increasing the risk of future transgressions and who are prepared to continue to offer cover to convicted drivers at competitive premium rates.
Obligation to disclose
As far as motor and convicted drivers insurance is concerned a previous conviction may be regarded as a “material fact” and the onus is on the applicant, therefore, to disclose that information. Failure to do so is technically a fraud and may well lead the insurer to declare the cover null and void in the event of a claim.
The notable exception to this rule is when a conviction is deemed to have been “spent” under definitions in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. The charity set up to help people with criminal convictions, Unlock, has produced a detailed guide on how penalties become spent and their website also has a handy ready-reckoner for calculating whether or not a particular conviction is spent.
The complexity of calculating whether or not a conviction needs to be disclosed is illustrated by the number of motorists who get the answer wrong.
According to information compiled by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and reported by the Telegraph newspaper in July 2014, some 23% of motor insurance applicants provide incorrect information, with around 16% of them failing to disclose fully convictions which need to be declared (surprisingly perhaps, as many as 7% of applicants “over-declare” – meaning that they are likely to be paying too much for their motor insurance).
The ABI estimates that if every motorist accurately declared unspent convictions the savings made for the insurance industry might amount to a reduction of up to £15 on every motor policy written. For this reason, the ABI is said to welcome a recent initiative from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) to publish online the driving licence records (including convictions and penalty points) of every motorist in the country