Having just gone through the process of renewing his car and home insurance policies, Leo asks why more isn’t being done to challenge the excessive premiums insurance companies are imposing on people with a criminal record.
I was convicted of fraud in March 2017 and received a 5 year prison sentence. This was my first experience of the criminal justice system.
I now fully appreciate the stigma and prejudice those with a criminal record suffer, particularly when trying to obtain insurance for their home or car.
Under the Insurance Act 2015, a policyholder has a ‘duty of fair presentation of risk’. This means that an individual must be honest and if asked, declare any unspent convictions to an insurance company.
Unfortunately, it seems that the insurance industry views the disclosure of convictions as an automatic right to increase premiums, even when the conviction has NO adverse effect on the insurance you’re trying to obtain.
My conviction is for fraud. How does this impact on my car insurance? Does my conviction make my driving worse, and therefore make me a bad risk? If anything, I now have a job which is far less stressful that the one I had prior to my conviction which means I’m much calmer, less tired and less rushed. I’m also still on licence so always mindful of my actions – worried that a potential slip up could see me recalled to prison. So all in all less of a risk all round. However, my car insurance premium hasn’t been reduced to reflect that.
When I was looking to renew my car insurance many insurers simply refused point blank to insure me and those that did wanted to increase my premium from between £400 to £800. As my conviction will never be spent, I’ll incur these increased premiums and prejudice for the rest of my life.
I’ve had a similar experience with my home insurance – none of the well-known high-street insurers will quote for home insurance once you’ve got a criminal record.
I fully appreciate that if my conviction was for a driving offence or arson then this will, and probably should increase my premium. I have no problem with disclosing my unspent conviction but I feel that the insurance company should look at its relevancy, rather than immediately upping my premium.
Doesn’t the insurance industry have a duty to treat its customers fairly? I don’t see this happening and I don’t see them being challenged because of it.
What’s more baffling is, if premiums are based on risk then why aren’t insurance companies asking all customers questions about their drug and alcohol intake or whether they’re taking prescription medication for stress or depression – wouldn’t these factors potentially lead to more ‘risky’ behaviour.
The insurance industry is making millions of pounds each year by increasing the premiums of people with unspent convictions. Isn’t it time that they were challenged and asked to provide evidence that people with convictions have more accidents or make more claims than those without a criminal record.
By Leo (name changed to protect identity)
A comment from Unlock
Since 2000 we’ve worked hard to try to make it easier for people with a criminal record to get genuine cover at a fair price.
However, there’s still a lot that needs improving and we’re continuing to push the insurance industry to use evidence-based risk-pricing models as well as monitoring the questions that insurers ask about criminal records to ensure they’re not taking spent convictions into account.