Please note: In January 2015, the site was re-structured. The ‘Frequently asked questions’ section has been moved, with the content of each subject being transferred into the information subject on that subject.

Please search for the relevant information section, where you’ll find the FAQ’s relating to that subject.

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Is it best to go to insurers directly or to go on comparison sites?
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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.

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Does an insurer have to remove my conviction when it becomes spent?
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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.

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I'm currently in prison - what should I do about insurance?
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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.

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What do I say if my conviction is spent, but I had insurance cancelled in the past because I didn't disclose a conviction that was unspent at that time?
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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.

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If my insurance company agrees to continue to insure me but advises me that they will not renew my policy at the end of the current term, does this constitute a policy cancellation.
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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.

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