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Lifelong punishment? Even a minor conviction can affect your insurance policy

6th February 2013

A criminal conviction, no matter how minor, can make it harder to get accepted for some types of insurance, or you may be charged higher rates when you declare your conviction; this also applies to other people sharing your household.

This is particularly punitive in Ireland where currently (6th Feb 2013) no* legislation exists for the expungement of adult criminal convictions after a set 'rehabilitative' period during which no further offences are committed. It amounts to 'lifelong' punishment, lasting long after the penalty has been paid (whether a fine, a prison sentence, or other sanction).

The impact can be enormous. For example, having a criminal conviction can make it difficult or even impossible to access home insurance, without which you cannot take out a mortgage. This can occur even when the offence was committed long ago, and where there is no direct relevance of the conviction to the insurance cover sought.

"Not all insurers will ask about convictions during the application stages, however, and many people do not realise that they should disclose them. This can also lead to problems in the future. If the information comes to light, coverage can be invalidated or cancelled." (Carol Finch, 'ABI & Unlock Produce Guide to Insurance with Criminal Convictions'.)

"On insurance websites in particular, people can often simply tick a box saying they accept assumptions made about them - including that they have no convictions - without really understanding what they are agreeing to." (Chris Bath of UNLOCK, writing in the Guardian.)

Therefore, it is vital that the insurance company is informed of all criminal convictions or criminal proceedings arising, as failure to do so can render the insurance cover invalid - even if the events occur after the policy was begun.

[*The Children Act 2001 provides for the expungement of criminal convictions for offences committed under the age of 18 (apart from those tried in the Central Criminal Court.)]

IPRT is campaigning for Spent Convictions legislation to be passed by the Dáil at the earliest possibility. If you think you can assist us in our campaigning, we would like to hear from you! Please email Fiona at: communications@iprt.ie

Overview of insurance providers:

We took a brief look at the small print across a number of insurers online, and discovered the restrictions detailed below.

Please note that while in most cases criminal proceedings/convictions automatically disqualify from online purchase of insurance, direct contact with the insurance company (by phone) and/or going through a broker usually proves more flexible. In many cases, people with convictions pay higher premiums for their insurance.

If you have exhausted all angles and are still unable to access insurance, we suggest you contact the Irish Insurance Federation.

Please note: the information below was gathered mid-2011. While it gives a general overview, it is neither comprehensive nor can we guarantee that details have not changed!

AIB Home Insurance:
Applicants are required to declare that “Neither you nor anyone living with you has” “ever been declared bankrupt or been convicted of arson, or any offence involving dishonesty of any kind (e.g. fraud, forgery, theft, robbery, or handling or receiving stolen goods ) or been convicted of any crime of violence associated with any of these offences”

Aviva Insurance Ireland - Car:
Aviva Assumptions for car insurance includes: "Have not been convicted of any offences of any nature, or have any now pending"

Aviva Insurance Ireland - Home:
For home insurance, Aviva Assumptions include that "you, and anyone else involved in this policy" "Have never been convicted of any offence other than minor driving offences."

Aviva contacted IPRT in Sept 2014 to request we remove links to the information on their website.

AXA Home Insurance:
Changes that may affect your insurance” include where “you have been declared bankrupt or been convicted of any offence or have a prosecution pending other than a driving offence”. “We may reassess your cover and premium either immediately or at your next renewal date depending on the information you provide.”

AXA Car Insurance:
Conditions to get car insurance online include: “In the past 5 years, have never been convicted of any motoring or criminal offence or have any prosecution pending (other than penalty points).”

FBD Car Insurance
You must be able to agree with a number of assumptions in order to take out a valid Policy of Insurance, including that all the named drivers “have never been disqualified from driving, convicted of any driving or criminal offence, or have any prosecution pending for any driving or criminal offence”

FBD Home Insurance
The assumptions on which the (online) quote for home insurance is based include “you or any person residing with you or any person with a financial interest in the property to be insured have” ... “never been convicted of any offence of any nature and does not have a prosecution pending other than in relation to a driving offence.”

Quinn Car Insurance
Driver Requirements include that the policy-holder and named drivers have not “been disqualified from driving in the last 5 years or have any prosecutions pending” and "have not been convicted of any non motoring offence involving dishonesty, fraud or arson or have any prosecutions pending.”

Quinn Home Insurance
Policyholder & Joint Policyholders requirements include that “neither you nor any other person with an interest in the property has ever been convicted of an offence, other than minor road traffic offences.”

Read more:

The following guidelines/articles apply to the UK, and not Ireland:

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