Car insurance declarations and non-disclosures

Mistakes in insurance applications can lead to a policy being refused, cancelled or voided - here’s how to avoid it and what to do if it happens to you.

Alice Morgan

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The basics

When you buy car insurance you’ll be asked questions about whether you’ve ever had a policy cancelled, refused or made void in the past.

Key points

  • Your insurer could cancel your policy if you don’t disclose relevant information to them
  • If you deliberately declare incorrect information it’s fraud, and could void your insurance
  • You’ll find it much harder to get car insurance if you’ve had a policy cancelled in the past

You’ll also be asked about criminal convictions and driving convictions you’ve had.

Always be honest - lying when you answer these questions will void your insurance and make it very difficult to get insurance in the future.

What’s ‘non-disclosure’?

It means failing to reveal information that’s relevant to your car insurance.

For example, forgetting to tell your insurer about penalty points on your licence when you apply for car insurance.

You’re expected to take reasonable care not to make a non-disclosure or misrepresentation, so always check the dates and details of any previous claims and conviction you have when you take out an insurance policy.

The consequences of non-disclosure

What happens depends on how important the information you got wrong was, and whether it was an accident or not.

If you accidentally got the dates of a previous claim mixed up, so you thought you didn’t need to declare it, they’re likely to charge you an additional premium to make your cover valid.

But for a more serious non-disclosure, your insurer could do one of the following:

  • Void your insurance

    Your insurer can void your policy if they believe important information wasn’t disclosed on purpose. Things like lying on your application or making a fraudulent claim.

    A policy that’s made void will be invalid from the start date - it’s as though it never existed, so they’ll reject any claims in progress.

    Normal cancellation rules and notice periods won’t apply.

  • Cancel your insurance

    Your insurer might cancel your policy if you don’t stick to its terms. You’ll have cover up to the date it’s cancelled.

    Future insurers will ask if you’ve ever had a policy cancelled or voided before and, depending on the reason for it, they could refuse to offer you cover as well.

  • Refuse insurance

    If you’ve been refused insurance, it means you’ve either had a claim rejected, or your insurer has refused to offer you a renewal quote.

    Your insurer might refuse to renew your policy, either because its criteria has changed or they’re no longer able to offer you cover.

    But you could also be refused insurance, or refused a renewal because of non-disclosure, leading to your insurance being voided or cancelled.

    If you’ve ever had insurance refused you have to declare it when you take out new insurance.

Why was my car insurance cancelled or voided?

There are a few reasons why your insurer could cancel or void your policy:

  • Missed payments - if you haven’t kept up with your premium repayments
  • Telematics or black box policies - if your insurer can see that you’re speeding or otherwise breaking the law via your black box
  • Non-disclosure - make sure you keep your insurer up to date with any changes to personal details
  • Fraud - if you’re found guilty of fronting or making a dishonest claim? You could find your insurance cancelled or voided

What can I do about it?

If you think your insurer shouldn’t have cancelled or voided your policy for non-disclosure, you should make a complaint to them first explaining why.

If you’re not happy with their response, after eight weeks, you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman.

The Financial Ombudsman states that insurers questions about disclosure should be clear. The insurer will also need to tell the Ombudsman whether it believe any non-disclosure was deliberate, reckless, innocent or inadvertent.

A deliberate non-disclosure would be giving information you know isn't true, and a reckless one might be letting someone else fill out forms for you - in either case, it’s unlikely your complaint would be upheld by the Ombudsman.

But innocent mistakes can happen. For example, if a question is unclear or ambiguous or you genuinely had no intention to mislead. If that’s the case, the Ombudsman could tell your insurer that it’s acted unreasonably by cancelling or voiding your policy.

Does a cancelled policy affect finding insurance in the future?

You’ll need to declare any previous cancelled policies when you apply for car insurance.

Some insurers might refuse you cover, in which case you’ll have to seek out a specialist.

You might end up paying more for your policy, but at least you’ll still be covered.

What counts as insurance fraud?

Fronting - where a parent names themselves as the main driver on their child’s car insurance - is classed as fraud.

Parents do this to get cheaper car insurance for their children, but it’s actually illegal and could land you a criminal record.

Lying on your application for car insurance, saying your car was stolen when it wasn’t, or being part of a ‘crash-for-cash’ scam, also count as fraud.

How to avoid insurance non-disclosure

It can be easy to accidentally miss something off your application or renewal info, but it could have serious consequences. Stay on the right side of the law by:

  1. Telling your insurer if you change jobs

    It can affect your cover and the cost

  2. Telling your insurer if you move home

    Any changes should be reported

  3. Updating your regular mileage

    Increasing or decreasing your mileage counts

  4. Adding drivers to your policy

    Don’t let anyone drive your car without letting your insurer know first

  5. Declaring any penalty points

    Make sure your insurer is aware of any penalty points or any driving convictions you’ve had in the past

  6. Reporting all incidents

    If your car is stolen or damaged

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