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The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and Convicted Drivers

According to The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, also referred to as ROA, people convicted for a crime or offence have the right to start afresh after paying their debt to society. Basically the Act stipulates that after a specific amount of time, some convictions are treated as spent. Once a conviction is spent, it is not mandatory to disclose the conviction. As the prevailing insurance law in the UK, people applying for insurance have to disclose material facts, including criminal convictions. However, this refers to unspent convictions. Furthermore, it is necessary to disclose all types of convictions of all people, who will be covered by the insurance policy, such as spouse, partner and children.

What should a person disclose when applying for insurance?

It is important to remember that once convictions are spent, there is no need to disclose the same to insurance providers. However, unspent convictions, including pending prosecution, fixed penalty notice and any other conviction that does not come under the purview of ROA has to be disclosed to the insurance provider, even if the provider does not specifically ask for it.

When does the disclosure take place?

Convictions should be disclosed while taking out an insurance policy. When a conviction occurs during a policy, it does not always have to be disclosed until the same policy is renewed. However, read the fine print of the policy, as some state explicitly that new convictions have to be disclosed even during a policy. In this case failure to disclose a conviction could invalidate the insurance.

The Effects of Making the Disclosure

Convictions can have a profound effect on the insurance policy. An insurer may refuse the person insurance coverage, charge more for the policy or lay down special terms and conditions. If a person has an existing policy, the insurance provider can cancel the policy or even refuse to pay claims.

If you do not disclose the conviction while taking out a new insurance, there is a possibility that nothing may happen. However, this is illegal and if the insurance provider finds out about unspent convictions at a later stage, the policy may get cancelled.

How do convictions affect claims?

Legally, when a person discloses unspent convictions while taking out the policy, it should have no bearing on claims. However, if a person does not disclose the convictions in the initial stages and the insurer finds out about them, the company can void the policy and not pay any claim.

If an insurance provider refuses to pay claims on the ground of misrepresentation or non-disclosure, the person has the right to approach the Financial Ombudsman Service to resolve the issue.

Looking for an Insurance Provider

People with unspent convictions can approach brokers, who specialise in assisting people with unspent convictions. These brokers connect such people with insurers. Make sure that when getting a new insurance policy, you get in writing that the insurer does not want you to disclose certain convictions or does want you to disclose convictions. This will help in the future, in case the insurer refuses to settle claims.

Convictions and Insurance

The law in the UK is very clear when it comes to declaring and disclosing convictions for taking out insurance policies. Just unspent criminal convictions have to be disclosed and declared. If a conviction is spent, it should not be used by the insurance provider against you. Things like cautions, final warnings and even reprimands are spent at once and not considered criminal convictions and, hence, they do not have to be disclosed.

The Association of British Insurers and the National Association of Reformed Offenders have put out a new set of guidelines in early 2011 to help convicted offenders looking for different types of insurance policy. According to these guidelines, insurers have to deal with convicted offenders in a special manner.

• Insurers should clearly state and inform customers how they use criminal convictions to decide prices of policies

• All questions pertaining to prior convictions and offences have to be asked clearly during the application process

• If an insurer refuses a policy on the grounds of a prior conviction, they have to help the person find a new insurer

• An insurer has to offer cover to convicted applicants wherever possible

The guideline further states that the insurers do not have to give better rates to convicted applicants and, therefore, it is not necessary that the policy becomes cheaper for such applicants. The main aim of the new guidelines is to ensure that applicants with convictions are treated fairly when they apply for insurance.