Practical information & advice

Most mainstream insurers discriminate against people with unspent convictions, even if the convictions are not relevant. There are some big motor insurers that only take into account motoring convictions, and we have a list of these if you’ve not got motoring convictions. If you’re looking to be self-employed or want house insurance, you’ll find mainstream insurers simply won’t give you a quote. There are several insurance brokers however who should be able to assist you.

We’ve been working for fairer access to insurance for people with convictions since 2000. Since then, we have worked hard to make it easier for you to get genuine cover at a fair price. Unlock is an independent charity, so we do not provide insurance directly. We take an impartial view and do not prefer one company over another. We are proud to be widely recognised as the ‘go to’ place for information and advice on criminal conviction and insurance issues. A key aim for us is to promote the choice that is available so that the market becomes more competitive. We are not FCA regulated and so we’re not able to provide specific insurance advice.

Taken from our top 10 things to know 

Read our latest information and advice posts about insurance

 

Information

Here you’ll find links to other parts of this site where we have information and useful resources relating to insurance.

Will my criminal record cause me a problem with insurance?

If it’s unspent then it might do. Useful links include:

What do I have to disclose to an insurance company?

You do not need to disclose spent convictions. Useful links include:

Where can I get home insurance?

We have a list of insurance brokers – we promote a range of companies to help you get the best deal. See the link below.

Where can I get motor insurance?

There are many mainstream insurers that don’t ask about non-motoring convictions. Useful links include:

I need insurance for my business – what do I need to know?

You have to disclose any unspent convictions even if the insurance company don’t ask as a conviction is classed as a material fact. See link below.

What should insurers be doing?

In partnership with Unlock, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) published a best-practice guide for insurers in March 2014. See link below.

Do I have to voluntarily disclose unspent convictions?

No only if you are asked to.

 

Advice

Here you’ll find common advice that we give on insurance. This is based on what we’ve learnt as a charity, as well as the real-life experiences of people with convictions.

  • The list of brokers are able to generally help people with convictions. However, if you have a particular conviction that is directly related to the type of insurance being sought, it may be incredibly difficult to secure insurance.
  • If you’ve got non-motoring convictions only and are looking for motor insurance, you should use our list of motor insurers that don’t ask about non-motoring convictions.
  • The major insurers of ‘people with convictions’ are contained in the list that we publish. However, we regularly hear of examples where people have managed to secure insurance through other brokers that don’t wish to specialise in this area. There are also examples where mainstream insurers, usually because of long-standing customer loyalty, have able to continue providing cover at renewal to somebody who receives a conviction during a policy.
  • The issue of insurance is generally limited to motor, home (e.g. buildings and contents) and commercial (e.g. public liability) insurance. Other types of insurance (such as travel and life insurance) tend not to ask about convictions, and so you don’t have to disclose. You should always make sure that you check any documentation that comes through to make sure you haven’t missed something.

 

Frequently asked questions

Here you’ll find some specific questions that we regularly get about insurance and the answers we generally provide. More detailed FAQ’s may be included in the information pages above.

No. You do not need to disclose convictions that are spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Make sure you are confident that your convictions are spent though.
We are an independent charity, and therefore do not provide insurance directly, nor are we FCA regulated and so we are able to provide specific insurance advice or recommend a specific company.
Generally, no. You only have to answer the questions that an insurer asks you. For motor insurance, they normally only ask about people who are going to be driving the vehicle or specifically covered by the policy.

It varies. Generally, although it is easier to use comparison sites, it can be more risky. With convictions, especially for motor insurance, you have to be careful about what questions (and assumptions) companies ask, and that can be more difficult using comparison sites.

Also, sometimes when you tick a certain box on a comparison site (like ‘yes’ to non-motoring convictions) this might not transfer over to the insurer that you end up purchasing through.

So, although it takes more time, it can be better to buy directly with the insurer. What you may decide to do is use a comparison site to get a range of quotes, but then purchase directly from the insurer, once you’ve decided who to go with.

For motor insurance, some companies do not ask about non-motoring convictions. However, sometimes their online questions (or their assumptions) can be different to their telephone sales process. We would recommend in these instances that you speak to them directly – if they don’t ask, you don’t have to tell them.
You are entitled to ask an insurance company to remove data regarding spent convictions under the Data Protection Act 1998 on the basis that it is no longer necessary. When this point is may depend on the company – for example, if they don’t require changes to be notified during a policy (thereby meaning somebody who obtains a conviction during a policy doesn’t have to notify them until renewal) then it is likely that they wouldn’t treat an existing policy as without convictions until the next renewal.
If you’re not going to be living in the property, and do not need to hold an insurance policy for some other reason (e.g. a mortgage) anybody else living in the property should be able to take out a policy in their name, as the questions asked by insurers normally relate to the policyholder and anybody normally living in the property. If, however, you own the property, and/or you have a mortgage on it, you may need to be a policyholder, in which case you’ll likely be asked by the insurer about convictions when you take out a policy. For an existing policy, there’s generally no requirement to inform your insurer of changes during the policy. However, at the next renewal, you will need to notify them about your conviction and your change in circumstances.
Although under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) a question about convictions can be treated as a question about unspent convictions, and an insurer cannot rely on spent convictions to disadvantage an application, an insurer can rely on a non-disclosure made to a previous insurer even if the subject of the non-disclosure was a conviction which is now spent.

There was a case from 2010 in which a judge ruled in favour of an insurer to cancel an insurance policy mid-term after a non-disclosed conviction came to light. In this case, the claimant had a prior completely unrelated conviction for criminal damage, which he failed to disclose to a previous insurer before it was spent. Subsequently, his new insurers relied on his earlier dishonesty as being a factor which entitled them to void his insurance policy. However, there were several other, arguably more serious factors against him such as previous false claims. The judge commented that a single false statement might not have been considered to be significant.

As a result of this, our view is that if you’ve previously had insurance refused or cancelled because of non-disclosure of a conviction that was unspent at the time, this is something that an insurer might use in the event of a claim or a dispute. You should therefore, when asked about ‘refusals or cancellations’, explain this to the insurer. In our experience, ‘good insurers’ will recognise that, because this now relates to something that is spent, there isn’t a problem. However, it’s better to take this approach than it is in paying for insurance which does not actually protect you, your property or a third party.

No. ‘Cancelled’ insurance is when an insurer cancels your insurance contract during the term of your policy, this may be due to your not disclosing a criminal conviction. It does not relate to situations where an insurance company inform you that they will not be offering you cover following your next renewal.

 

Here you’ll find links to useful organisations and websites related to insurance that will have been referred to in the above sections. More specific details (including addresses and telephone numbers) of some of the organisations listed below can be found here.

 

Read personal stories

The personal stories below have been posted on theRecord, our online magazine.

 

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Help us with our policy work on this

Read more about the policy work we’re doing on ensuring fair treatment by insurance companies and Stopping misleading questions asked by employers, insurers, housing providers and others.