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Last updated: 13 September 2021
If you have been convicted of a criminal offence – whether it is related to driving or not – it can make it hard to find affordable car insurance. However, it is possible to find the right deal for you, and there are specialist insurers who can help. Here’s what to look out for when you compare car insurance quotes with a criminal conviction.
Can I get insured as a convicted driver?
Having a criminal conviction may make it harder to get cheap car insurance, especially if it relates to a motoring offence, for example those with a drink driving conviction. Statistically, those with a criminal conviction are more likely to make an insurance claim, meaning some insurers charge you a higher rate for the overall policy if you have one. Some insurers will flatly refuse to cover you, so you need to make sure you've done your research.
If your criminal conviction is for something other than driving, then it should not affect your car insurance too much. However, if you were convicted for a dangerous driving offence, for example, then you will struggle to find insurance anywhere.
Despite this, it is still imperative to make sure any car you own is insured. Even if you have a car you do not plan on driving on public roads you must still apply for a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN). Failure to do so is a criminal offence.
Do I need to declare my criminal convictions to insurers?
Yes. When applying for a car insurance policy you must be upfront about any ‘unspent' convictions, defined as an offence that has not yet been wiped from your record and will still appear during a Basic Criminal Record Check.
Criminal convictions can be anything from a prison sentence to a speeding ticket. If you have ever been cautioned, reprimanded or given a final warning, they count as ‘spent' convictions, and do not have to be declared.
Convictions become ‘spent' a period amount of time after the date of conviction, outlined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This stops insurers from discriminating against you due to ‘spent' convictions. The length of time that a criminal conviction stays on your record is dependent upon a number of factors such as the seriousness of the crime, the severity of the sentence and whether you are bankrupt.
There is a useful online calculator from Unlock that can help you work out whether your previous convictions have been spent. They also provide a list of insurers that offer cover for drivers with convictions.
What happens if I don’t declare my criminal convictions?
If you deliberately fail to disclose any unspent conviction when asked by the insurance provider, your insurance will be invalidated. If you've made a claim during the policy after having failed to disclose your criminal history, the insurance company can also ask for the money back.
It's always best to declare your unspent convictions, even if you feel like they are too personal to share.
If you get a conviction during a policy, you do not have to declare it until you decide to renew or switch your policy, in which case you most notify your provider. Make sure you check the terms and conditions though as some insurers require you to declare this information.
How will my car insurance be affected by a conviction?
Insurance providers will generally provide clear information about their policies regarding people with criminal convictions. During the application process they will ask clear questions about convictions which should be simple to answer. Most insurers will provide convicted driver cover, though the premiums are likely to be higher as a result. Motoring convictions will probably affect your car insurance more than other offences. As a general rule, the worse the offence, the higher your insurance premium is likely to be.
It can be a struggle to find an affordable policy when you're a driver with motoring convictions, so make sure you use our car insurance comparison service to find the most suitable convicted driver insurance policies for you.