Compare car insurance for convicted drivers
- You must disclose any current or unspent convictions your insurer asks you about
- Convictions considered spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 don't need to be disclosed, unless the offence resulted in a prison term of over four years
- Insurance options if you have a conviction are likely to be more limited and expensive
If you've ever been convicted of a crime, you might know how difficult it is to get car insurance.
More than 11 million people in the UK have a criminal conviction, according to Unlock, the charity for people with convictions. Vehicular offences are among the most commonly reported crimes.
In the past, obtaining insurance has been extremely difficult for those with criminal convictions. Fortunately, thanks to changes in the law, it isn't quite so much of a problem these days.
Law changes regarding disclosure
In April 2013, the law relating to the disclosure of criminal convictions was changed, meaning that your insurance company must ask a variety of questions to work out if you can be covered.
Alongside this, any convictions considered 'spent' under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 no longer need to be disclosed. At a basic level, a spent conviction is one that happened long enough ago for a rehabilitation period to have lapsed.
So, if you had to pay a fine after being found guilty of a certain crime, you'd have to wait a whole year from the date of your conviction before it could be considered spent.
If you're unsure about whether your conviction is spent, there's a handy chart on GOV.UK to help you work it out.†
This change doesn't apply to convictions that led to a prison sentence of longer than four years, however.
You don't have to disclose a criminal conviction incurred during the course of an existing policy, unless there's an explicit condition in your policy that states otherwise.
But when the policy comes up for renewal, you will need to disclose it – regardless of whether you intend to remain with your current provider or not.
It may be even wiser simply to be upfront with your insurers without prompting.
Matt Oliver, car insurance expert at GoCompare, says: "Don't assume you can get away with not declaring an unspent conviction to your insurers. Failure to do so is fraud, and you could be refused insurance."
Is a caution a conviction?
If you've ever been given a caution or a warning, there's no need to worry. Cautions, reprimands and final warnings from the police don't need to be disclosed, as these aren't criminal convictions.
Did you know...?
- Failure to honestly disclose a conviction when asked could be classed as fraud and invalidate your insurance
Similarly, paying off a speeding ticket or a fixed penalty doesn't count as a conviction. However, they do need to be disclosed to your insurer at the point of renewal.
In general, it doesn't need to be declared if you've undertaken a speed awareness course, which are taken in lieu of a fixed penalty and three-point endorsement on your licence.
Some insurance providers do ask to confirm if you've taken the course, so obviously it's best not to lie if asked directly. However, you won't be asked this when comparing policies through us.
How do convictions affect other parties on a policy?
Be aware that the issues surrounding criminal convictions and insurance are likely to apply to all parties covered by a policy.
If there are other named drivers on a car insurance policy, then your convictions may impact on their search for cover. And the reverse also applies – their convictions could impact on your search for a policy.
This doesn't just apply to car insurance: if you're searching for home insurance, convictions that apply to anyone who lives in the property will be relevant.
Car insurance companies that don't ask for criminal convictions
We don't compare policies from any companies that don't ask drivers for their criminal convictions. But that doesn't mean that if you have any, you'll be out of options. Although it depends on what kind you have, you're not barred from having insurance just because you've had a conviction.
If you compare policies through us, it's easy to declare a conviction to potential insurers.
Bear in mind that options are likely to be more restrictive and expensive than if you don't have a conviction, but don't be tempted not to disclose appropriate details... that would invalidate your insurance and could be classed as fraud.
If you're struggling to find cover through mainstream car insurers, there are also specialist providers and brokers.
Some of them will take referrals from official bodies like the Probation Service and HM Prison Service. Remember that if you've had a prison sentence of longer than four years, your conviction will never be considered as spent, so you'll always have to declare it to your insurers.
Again, it's likely that the premium will be higher for drivers with a conviction than those without, even if the conviction isn't for an offence related to motoring.