If you have an unspent criminal conviction, you may need the help of a specialist insurance firm to get the home insurance cover you need. Here's what you need to know about home insurance and previous convictions.
Home insurance companies are generally very wary of people with unspent criminal convictions, or in other words: people for whom the prescribed rehabilitation period for a conviction hasn’t yet passed.
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Even if you only committed a very minor offence, you are likely to find it difficult to take out home insurance as a result. In fact, many insurers impose a blanket ban on applicants with unspent convictions – making it impossible for any of the millions of people with criminal convictions to get cover for their homes and their contents.
Those who have had problems with bankruptcy in the past can also find it difficult.
It is not a good idea to try to hide your criminal past or financial problems from an insurance company, though.
Failure to disclose the details of any convictions or bankruptcies could invalidate your home insurance policy, and that would leave you in the same position as someone without home insurance – except that you would have paid out for the policy premium.
And, as you should also declare the criminal convictions of any other members of the household, putting the policy in your partner's name, for example, is not an option either.
How long will a criminal conviction or bankruptcy stay on my record?
You have to tell insurers about so-called unspent convictions, but not those for which you are judged to have paid your debt to society.
The amount of time a criminal conviction can prevent you getting cover from a mainstream home insurer therefore depends on the seriousness of your crime – or rather the sentence you were given as a result.
If your case resulted in you being given a fine or community service, for example, you would only have to tell an insurer about it for the next five years.
Bankrupts, meanwhile, must wait for about six years for their bankruptcy to be removed from their credit reports – even though they are “discharged” from most of the financial restrictions after 12 months.
If, on the other hand, you spend between six months and two-and-a-half years in prison, then you must wait 10 years before leaving it off any house insurance applications.
And if you spend longer than that behind bars, your conviction is never spent and stays on your record for good.
How can I get home insurance in the meantime?
The good news is there are specialist, or non-standard home insurance policies designed for people who would otherwise find it hard to get cover.
As you might expect, policies of this kind generally cost more than those available from general insurers. However, the difference could be minimal if the offence you committed was very minor so they are definitely worth exploring.
And as with standard policies, it also makes sense to shop around for cheap home insurance for people with convictions to ensure that you get the cover you need at the lowest possible price.