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Personal insurance

Personal insurance (both home and motoring) is an area of life in which many people, who have had involvement with the criminal justice system, face discrimination. 

Many insurers ask the question:

“Have you ever had a criminal conviction?”

Answering this question can be challenging because the immediate reaction is to disclose any conviction you may have.  However, thanks to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, you are only required to disclose unspent convictions

You do not have to disclose spent convictions to insurers providing personal insurance (such as home and car insurance).

It is therefore essential that you understand when your conviction will become spent. More information on this topic can be accessed on our Spent or Unspent page.

As a UK wide topic, the charity Unlock* have two guides on the topic of insurance:

They also produce a list of insurance brokers who:

  1. Do not require individuals to disclose spent criminal record information (in line with the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974)
  2. Are able to offer individuals, on request, written confirmation of the information they have disclosed regarding criminal conviction

And a list of motor insurers who do not ask about non-motoring convictions.

What happens if I am convicted mid-way through a policy?

If you are convicted mid-way through your policy, then you will need to check the terms of your agreement. 

If your policy states that you need to tell them about changes during the term of your policy, you will need to disclose your conviction.  If not, then you will need to notify them when it is time to renew. 

What happens if my insurance is cancelled?

Having your insurance cancelled can make it difficult to secure insurance in the future as, even after your conviction is spent (and you therefore don't need to disclose it anymore), you would still need to answer "yes" when asked if you've ever had insurance cancelled. Answering "yes" to this question can prevent you from using insurance comparison sites, which, in turn, can lead to higher premiums.

You may want to consider taking pre-emptive steps to avoid having your insurance cancelled if at all possible.

The charity Unlock* provide information on this topic under the heading 'Answering questions about refusals, cancellations and special terms'.

British Insurance Brokers’ Association

The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) has a helpline that you can call if you are struggling to secure insurance. 

They also have a search functionality on their website that allows you to search for insurance brokers who insure people with previous convictions. 

To search their website, enter “PREVIOUS” into the search bar on the “Find Insurance” page and a series of options (motor, buildings/contents, etc.) will come up.  Select the type of insurance you need and you will be provided with a list of insurance brokers who should be able to help.

A table with examples of appropriate language use

Commercial insurance

The rules relating to commercial insurance are set out within different legislation, the Insurance Act 2015.  

There are circumstances, relating to commercial insurance, when you may be asked to disclose spent convictions.  Please view Unlock’s* guide on commercial insurance for more information.

A table showing the notification periods for the various sentence types. Prison sentence of 30 months or more (including life), Indefinite. Order for lifelong restriction, Indefinite. Admission to a hospital subject to a restriction order, Indefinite. Prison sentence of more than 6 months but less than 30 months, 10 years. Prison sentence of 6 months or less, 7 years. Admission to a hospital without a restriction order, 7 years. Community payback order with an offender supervision requirement, The length of the offender supervision requirement. Any other sentence (e.g. a fine or admonition), 5 years.

*Unlock is a charity based in England and Wales. Although much of the information on their website is applicable UK wide, some does not apply to Scotland.

They also provide a free helpline. However, if you do contact their helpline, it is important that you tell them that you live in Scotland, because many of the laws are different.

Last updated:
March 14, 2024
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