Figuring out what you do and don’t have to declare can be a slightly confusing matter when you’re seeking car insurance for a return to the road after a driving ban.
The good news is that it’s by no means impossible to get a good deal on your motor insurance, even in the wake of a driving conviction. The bad news, though, is that your premiums will almost certainly be higher than if you had never been convicted.
As for the even worse news… failing to declare any unspent convictions to prospective insurers could invalidate any policy you do obtain through them. That would mean you are effectively driving without insurance, which is a further offence bringing the risk of additional points, a fine and maybe another ban.
So, you can probably begin to appreciate why honesty is the best policy when dealing with car insurers. You don’t necessarily have to declare everything, though, so here are the key rules to follow.
The principles of declaring past convictions
First of all, let’s look at some of the rights and protections you have as a motorist seeking insurance cover.
As explained by the Money Advice Service, it’s no longer necessary to declare any spent convictions when you are applying for insurance. ‘Spent’ convictions are those that have effectively expired after a certain time and can no longer be counted against you, according to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
Ultimately, then, it is unspent convictions that matter when you are seeking insurance. You don’t have to disclose spent convictions even if the insurer requests details of them. Nor are underwriters allowed to use spent convictions when calculating risks and premiums.
There is some ambiguity on this subject, however, due to many insurers’ tendency to specifically ask about any offences within the last five years.
In practice, you should always be honest in your communications with insurers, as the omission of any important information if you do need to make a claim could render your policy invalid. If, though, you feel that your premium has been affected by your declaration of a spent conviction, there’s probably a strong chance of the Financial Ombudsman finding in your favour.
As for if you’re unsure whether a conviction of yours is or isn’t spent, the independent UK-based charity for people with convictions – Unlock – provides a handy disclosure calculator.
Separating the essential from the inessential
There are a few other aspects of declarations that people can become bewildered about when calculating their likely car insurance premiums – so here are a few more ground rules.
No, you don’t have to declare parking fines to insurers. Yes, you do have to declare unspent convictions, even if they are ‘minor’ or unrelated to driving. Yes, you should always pore over the terms and conditions of any policy you’re looking at, to ensure no incorrect assumptions have been made about your driving history.
And yes, you should declare any National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) or speeding awareness course that you have taken to your insurer, even if you specifically did so to avoid licence points.
Oh, and yes, insurers will wish to know about all points on your licence within the last five years, even if those points are no longer active, as might be the case for any points removed after three or four years.
For more detailed information on applying for motor insurance after a ban, and to compare competitive quotes for convicted driver insurance, you might take a look at the website of the specialist insurance experts at MoneyBeach.
Best of luck with your upcoming car insurance application – and hopefully, you will soon be back (legally) on the road!