Why am I asked about my criminal convictions when I apply for home insurance?
Insurers are in the business of assessing risks – and whether you think it logical or fair, mainstream insurers believe that anyone with a criminal conviction represents a higher risk.
The degree of risk – and the decision whether to grant insurance cover – depends on the nature of the offence or offences concerned. Convictions for dishonesty, for example, might suggest to insurers a heightened risk of fraudulent claims in the future.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has estimated that fraudulent home insurance claims cost the industry more than £100 million a year – although there has been some success in combatting the crime.
Are insurers entitled to ask these questions?
Insurers are entitled to ask about your criminal convictions, but must make their questions crystal clear. If they don’t ask, you are under no obligation to disclose – the onus is on the insurer to ask the right questions.
This follows some significant changes introduced by the Consumer Insurance (Disclosure and Representations) Act 2012, which places greater responsibility on insurers in their decision making about granting home insurance for ex-offenders.
What convictions do I need to disclose?
When you are in search of home insurance for people with criminal convictions, an insurer is entitled to ask whatever questions they choose, but there is still a limit to what you are required to disclose.
For any criminal conviction that attracted a sentence of less than 4 years imprisonment, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 grants a period after which the conviction is effectively treated as though it never existed – the slate is wiped clean and the conviction is said to be “spent”. Until that time, the conviction is “unspent”. The time taken before a conviction is spent depends on the nature of the crime.
You have no obligation to disclose any spent conviction, but must do so with respect to any unspent conviction.
How is an insurer likely to respond if I disclose an unspent conviction?
Since mainstream insurers invariably regard people with a criminal conviction as a greater risk, many may reject your application for home insurance.
What if I don’t disclose the conviction?
Thinking you might avoid your insurance application being rejected by simply omitting to mention it or being untruthful about it, is a dangerous course of action – once the misrepresentation is discovered, the insurer is likely to declare your cover invalid and is entitled to reject any claim you make.
What’s the solution – and where do I find it?
Getting home insurance with a criminal record is still possible.
Specialist home insurance for convictions is a form of non-standard home insurance typically provided by brokers such as ourselves here at UKinsuranceNET, where there is an expertise and experience in arranging cover for those who might otherwise find it difficult – property insurance for people with criminal convictions being a case in point.
If you have faced this kind of difficulty or are uncertain about how a previous criminal conviction might affect your application for home insurance, just give us a call on 01325 346 328.
Further reading: Guide to home insurance for people with criminal convictions