Obtaining insurance when you have a criminal record can be a daunting task. Our mission is to open up the world of insurance to ALL people with ANY criminal conviction, regardless of background or insurance history.
Did you know that if you or anyone living with you has a criminal record, insurance policies that you hold may be void even though you are still paying the premiums?
Homeowner’s insurance policies are worthless if they or any member of their family living with them has been convicted of a crime — no matter how minor. Anyone whose children carry even a minor offence resulting in a Community Order or fine will have their claim refused and left hung out to dry. More than 8 millions people have unspent criminal convictions and there are more than 3,000 criminal offences created since 1997.
When a conviction becomes 'spent' under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act it means you no longer have to disclose it to an insurer or prospective employer. Minor offences such as fare dodging can take five years to become spent, while a three-month jail term would take seven years.
The 'rehabilitation' period for the under-18s is half that of adults. The rules mean that anyone with a tear-away teenager could be hung out to dry by their insurance company. Imagine you’ve been burgled or suffered a house fire and your insurer discovers a non disclosed conviction from a member of your family. The likelihood is that they’ll refuse to pay your claim and cancel your home insurance policy.
And some insurers take a similarly hard line on cautions, which can come about through underage drinking or possessing drugs.
Convictions for motoring offences, including drink-driving, will generally have no impact.
In one recent case, a Sheffield couple who had been with Royal & Sun Alliance for 26 years were refused a claim for snow-damaged guttering because their son, who still lived at home, had a criminal record for assault. The devastated mother said: 'How my son's criminal record has got anything to do with my gutters I'll never know. They said we should have informed them, but I had no idea. I was paying premiums even though it was void.'
To make matters worse, once you’ve had a policy cancelled or refused insurance cover, most other companies will also refuse to quote simply because someone else has.
An RSA spokesman says the policy wording was clear: Customers must disclose their circumstances within 30 days. And it spells out that customers must disclose if anyone in the home has a criminal conviction.
The spokesman adds: 'We cannot make exceptions when there has been a clear breach in the terms of the policy. To do so would be unfair to other policyholders.'
Aviva, the country's biggest general insurer, says: 'If a customer has had a criminal conviction then they need to inform us, as this could be material to their insurance cover. For people with a criminal record, insurance cover is not generally offered.'
The company says it looks at cautions on a 'case-by-case' basis. It says it makes this very clear to customers in the policy documents, online and over the phone.
Direct Line says it deals with convictions on a 'case-by-case basis', adding: 'We try to take a sympathetic stance.'
Chris Bath, director of projects at charity Unlock, the National Association of Reformed Offenders, says: 'Insurers are basically imposing a blanket ban if anyone in a household has had a criminal conviction or criminal record. Very few consumers are aware that if they have had a brush with the law, their insurance could be null and void. Even fewer are aware that this applies if their son, for example, has got into trouble after hanging out with the wrong crowd.'
Another criticism leveled at insurers is that they fail to spell this out to customers. In a damning report published in November 2008, Unlock found that firms were being too vague, for example telling customers they must report 'changes in circumstances' but not listing what would disqualify them from a claim on their policy. Unlock concedes companies have generally become clearer.
The Law Society dubs the duty to disclose a 'trap' for consumers, 'who are usually unaware the duty exists'.
Sale Insurance Services (SIS) is a specialist insurance company and we believe that your past should not necessarily be a guide to your future. Even with a criminal record, insurance quotes can be obtained for your car, home or business.