There are still major insurance issues faced by an estimated, eight million UK, and Northern Ireland residents who have a current unspent criminal conviction that may stop them starting either a business or going about their every lives thus contributing to society.
Similar issues are faced by bankrupts and those with adverse credit history
Mainstream Insurers are either refusing them Insurance or restricting cover including Employers Liability which is a requirement by Law
For those venturing out with a new enterprise, or still trying to get the correct cover including Public Liability cover, as well as cover for the business assets
Many would be clients of insurers maybe unsure or unaware that there is a DUTY OF THE POLICYHOLDER TO DISCLOSE MATERIAL FACTS THAT COULD AFFECT THE POLICY
For example a MATERIAL FACT that must be disclosed relates to criminal convictions
With Insurance becoming an automated process either being bought via the internet or at call centres manned by staff that may not have vast experience the important issues of disclosing material facts is often never pointed out
The fact that the Internet type policies are offered at perhaps slightly unrealistically low rates without checking on convictions etc is also affecting the Insurance Premium Tax revenue as well
It is muted that insurers may be taking on risks that will be invalidated when claims occur and the conviction is brought to light.
Perhaps this is an explanation as to how those insurers can cut the premiums is that there are a substantial number of the total policies sold that will not pay out in the event of a claim as they can just be invalided due to the conviction. Figures from the Financial Ombudsman Service are indicating a greater number of complaints of this nature
. This matter has been raised with insurance industry via the Financial Services Authority, the British Insurance Brokers Association and the Association of British Insurers But no real action is being taken to solve the problem OF NOT TREATING POLICYHOLDERS FAIRLY
. It has been proven by a number of ex offender organisations that this issue is in fact a reality, either the main stream insurers go out of there way to hide the fact that convictions are to be disclosed or when the policyholder does disclosure they are refused cover or given a poor service .
Q What are the problems faced by ex offenders looking for insurance?
Many ex offenders are unaware that they must disclose any unspent criminal conviction no matter how minor on an insurance proposal form. Do not be fooled, just because an insurer does not ask if you have any convictions, does not mean you do not need to disclose them. Unless all your convictions are declared and agreed in writing with an insurer, any claim against the policy may be refused. You could even be charged with attempting to defraud the insurers for non-disclosure of a conviction and potentially face another conviction.
Anyone who has, or lives with anyone who has, any unspent conviction should always read insurance policies carefully. Be on the lookout for the phrase “DO YOU OR ANY MEMBER OF THE FAMILY HAVE UNSPENT CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS?” Remember it is when you come to make a claim that things can go very wrong.
When insurance cover is cancelled for non-disclosure of a conviction you will be unable to make a claim on the policy.
Q Why do ex-offenders face issues with insurance?
It has long been considered that someone with a conviction is a bad risk, although this attitude has never been proved. It just seems to be an unwritten rule in insurance. A more enlightened approach to insurance not only for ex offenders but also individuals with adverse credit has been hard to find. Mainstream comparison websites have offered little or no assistance in this area.
Q What can ex offenders do to help reduce their insurance premium?
Firstly do not waste money buying a worthless policy without disclosure! Be honest disclosing convictions to the right insurance broker should not cause a problem. Correct disclosure does not always mean increased insurance premiums but it defiantly means you are insured.
Q What do you think the future holds for ex offenders facing insurance issues?
The Financial Services Authority has been aware of the bad practice of unfairly treating ex offenders and other socially or financially excluded groups. Current figures suggest there are 8 million people in the UK with unspent criminal convictions, which consequently affects other family members.
CURRENT PRACTISES AND THE FAULTS
.Due to these insurers relying on high volume sales they have adopted, rather than the traditional policy method of issuing a comprehensive proposal form for the policyholder to complete they use what is referred to as assumptions. A standard statement set that the policyholder should read and understand prior to purchasing the policy. Within this assumption there are words similar to “Neither you nor any member have an unspent criminal conviction” as well as other facts that will affect the validity of the policy.
. The problem this causes is that it compounds the confusion of the policyholder as rather than making clear from the outset that the insurer will not or cannot accept risks where a Criminal or bankruptcy situation is disclosed it is done at final point of sale. Also at that late stage a point the policyholder cannot understand
. A better practice will be making it compulsory with all online/telesales insurance purchased that the “standard statement” is highlighted before the purchase even begins and when the policyholder confirms they do not comply the quote process ceases and they should be re directed to a specialist provider who will cater for them after full disclosure . There was a working party group formed by the consortium of online insurance aggregators and insurers who had this matter on their agenda after regulatory pressure. The group did not last very long and in fact did not ever actively function
. Private sector/ Government departmental misconception
Those organisations working with ex offenders cannot or do not understand the issue actually exists as it is not part of their operating remit or practice
.Public misconception. The public in truth only have a vague understanding of the insurance process ridded with hearsay and miss conception/ urban myths so a great need of re education is needed about DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL FACTS, also that it is possible to obtain insurance with criminal convictions and that importantly when dealt with by specialist providers who are socially aware and are truly ethical.
Also that in truth it should cost the same premium with disclosure as it does without the public fear is that if they do disclose the premium will become un affordable which is in fact should not be the case
SOLUTION IN CONCLUSION
The mainstream insurers must be forced to act fairly with clients and cease using public lack of awareness or ignorance as means to sell them worthless cover and be more forthright about the risks they can accept and those they cannot IE ensuring the “standard statement” precludes any cover purchase and that they work with specialist providers who can
There is also a huge need for organisations working with ex offenders to understand the issue so that the correct guidance is given at point of prosecution & rehabilitation
Source: Neil Cook - Insurance Broker