A criminal conviction will almost certainly hit your car insurance costs. So where do you legally stand? And how do you get a better deal?
Can I get car insurance with a conviction?
Generally yes, but convicted drivers often find it tough to track down a competitive deal. Some car insurance providers may even slam the door straight in their face.
Many insurance providers don’t want to take the risk. This leaves the door ajar for more specialist insurers.
Many direct their underwriting at drivers with modified cars. Or those who’ve just passed their test. But plenty of insurers also specialise in convicted drivers.
So don’t give up hope if this is your situation. It’s straightforward to seek out a car insurance quote. The bad news, inevitably, is that premiums post-conviction will almost certainly be higher.
A good insurer though will probably look at your case on its merits. But from speeding to drugs and drink driving, most drivers want to move on, given the choice.
Do I have to declare driving convictions for car insurance?
Yes is the short answer here. All insurance companies without exemption have to know about all driving convictions within a five year period.
By law, most driving convictions are ‘spent’ after five years. Some convictions or sentences are so serious they can’t be spent, or erased, ever.
Most convictions or cautions are wiped out after a set period, courtesy of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
If you don’t declare a conviction then you’re at risk of having your policy cancelled and invalidated. Which means if there’s any claims outstanding, you’d be responsible for funding those costs.
Adding to a list of illegal behaviour makes it harder, and more expensive, to find a policy. So try not to make it worse than it is – your pocket will thank you.
Keep in mind:
- Many accident offences stay on your driving record for four years. For example, failing to stop after an accident could incur up to ten penalty points.
- Driving or attempting to drive when over the alcohol limit could be on your record for 11 years. The courts take a similarly strong line with drug-related offences.
- You may be completely disqualified from driving if you rack up 12 or more penalty points inside three years.
If you drive for work, your employer can check your record via the DVLA Shared Driving Licence Scheme. They shouldn't be able to see any offences already spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.
How long does an IN10 affect my insurance?
An IN10 is a driving without insurance conviction and it stays on your licence for four years from the date of the offence. You can also get up to eight penalty points on your licence.
The police can slap a £300 fine on you additionally and they also have the authority to seize your vehicle.
If the case ends up in the courts the fine could rise further still. You could even be disqualified from driving.
However some who end up with an IN10 conviction haven’t meant to avoid insuring themselves.
Why is this?
- Because there might be a genuine communication breakdown between yourself and the insurer, for a variety of reasons
- Other disclosure failures may mean you’ve been driving with the wrong type of insurance. For example, an IN10 conviction can be incurred if you’re driving for work purposes on a social and domestic policy.
- The bottom line is that your policy must always be insured ‘to the minimum legal requirement’.
While an IN10 conviction stays on your licence for four years, you still have to disclose it to your insurer for a fifth and final year.
If you’re aged under 25 with an IN10 conviction, you may struggle to find cover here.
Compared to other offences, an IN10 is a bit of an unusual one. That’s because it has nothing to do with your on-the-road driving behaviour.
An IN10 conviction signals to the insurer that you may be high risk.
Expert tip: If you have a smartphone, why not set up an annual reminder three weeks before your insurance expires? A three week gap is usually the best time to renew, as you could see the cheapest prices. Or you could use the Confused.com app which should send you a reminder automatically.
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Common driving convictions – what are the most common?
Speeding - Government conviction data demonstrates that speeding remains the most common driving UK offence, still.
Be it a speed-check police van on a motorway bridge or impromptu checks in a local danger spot, there’s a minimum £100 fine. You could also get three penalty points on your licence, minimum.
First time offenders can take a speed awareness course if they’ve strayed only modestly beyond the speed limit.
Many of these courses are now online, due to the pandemic. Typically, they’re less costly than a speeding penalty. However, not all police forces offer them.
Fixed penalty notices – almost two million were issued in 2016 – via fixed and mobile speed cameras are the most common penalties.
These include SPECS average speed devices, often found on motorways experiencing repairs or maintenance improvements.
But a fixed penalty for speeding or careless driving is not a conviction.
Drink-driving – alcohol related driving offences are taken extremely seriously because they affect your reaction time on the road. A drink-drive offence may affect the rest of your motoring life.
A drink-driving record can hit you hard financially in so many ways. From higher insurance premiums to legal fees and fines. Even loss of earnings.
Road safety charity IAM Roadsmart says the total conviction cost could be as much as £70,000 for some.
Currently DVLA deploys the code DR10 if you’re convicted of drink driving. Most drink driving offences have to be declared for up to five years. After this time they’re ‘spent’.
For super-serious offences – for example, death by dangerous driving – a conviction will stay on your licence for up to 11 years.
A DR20 conviction is when you’re unfit to drive because of drink, even if you’re under the limit. A DR20 means 3 to 11 points on your licence, usually.
A DR30 is the offence code for driving and not supplying a blood, breath or urine sample for analysis when stopped by the police.
Drink driving penalties can mean a fine of up to £2,500 and a potential driving ban – even for a stationery vehicle.
Latest government data claims 240 people were killed on UK roads due to alcohol-related driving in 2018. But a staggering 8,680 were killed or injured.
So always stick to ‘None for the Road’ – which keeps your premium down at the same time.
UK Magistrates’ Court sentencing guidelines around breath, blood and urine are highly specific. The police have to follow very tight sampling procedures by law.
In 2019 there was a 20% rise in drug-related driving offences in England and Wales, the Ministry of Justice says.
Dangerous driving – dangerous driving offences stay on your record for four years from the conviction date and cover a spate of offences.
Do always give them as much detail as you can about your conviction background.
Dangerous driving convictions run from serious injury (DD10) to furious driving (DD90) – five in total. Depending on the offence severity you could get up to 11 points on your licence. The codes are:
- DD10 – convictions relating to serious injury through dangerous driving.
- DD40 – convictions for dangerous driving. This type of offence is very common.
- DD60 culpable homicide or manslaughter caused through dangerous or reckless driving.
- DD80 – causing death through dangerous driving.
- DD90 – for drivers convicted of furious driving.
If you’ve got cover with a conviction history and your conviction is nearing the end, don’t forget to search the market for a new car insurance quote. A new provider may be able to offer a better deal with a ‘clean slate’.
Remember, our perception of dangerous driving is changing.
- A new speeding penalty based on an offender’s income was introduced in 2017. The fines are split into three sections: Bands A, B and C with C being the most serious.
- Most offences slip into Band A. These usually lead to a fixed penalty notice ticket and a minimum £100 fine plus three licence points.
- It’s not simply about aggressive driving, racing or running the lights. It includes distraction, like using a mobile phone when you’re driving [link to mobile phone FAQs].
- If you’re stationery at traffic lights or queuing in traffic, it’s still illegal to use a mobile phone for anything. This includes playing games or adjusting the route on your navigation app. You can only use a hand-held mobile when you’re safely parked with the engine off.
- Be aware that ‘distraction’ risk now includes voice-activated in-car technology. Once seen as ‘premium car’ tech, voice-activated tech is now filtering down to cheaper models. In certain situations it can be extremely distracting.
Causing death by dangerous driving could mean up to 14 years in prison, and a driving ban for up to two years.
Do criminal convictions affect car insurance?
Yes, and the range of criminal convictions is wide. From littering to a speeding conviction to assault.
An insurer will always argue a criminal conviction has a direct link to the level of risk they’re prepared to take.
For the purposes of insuring your wheels, the biggest issue is if a conviction is spent or not. If the conviction is spent it’s removed, period.
Since 2013 there’s no legal need to tell an insurer if you have any ‘spent’ criminal convictions. That’s down to your insurer and their underwriting process which measures the risks related to your cover.
An unspent conviction though will still come up following a criminal record check.
Understanding spent and unspent convictions
Once a conviction has passed a certain stretch of time – normally called the ‘rehabilitation period’ – a conviction is ‘spent’.
When it’s ‘spent’ you do not have to disclose it. The exception is for any prison sentence that lasts more than four years.
When to disclose?
- You must disclose any unspent convictions when applying for car insurance. An unspent conviction will come up on all criminal record checks – basic, standard and enhanced.
- Spent convictions or cautions don’t get flagged up in a basic criminal record check. Spent convictions or cautions don’t have to be disclosed when buying car insurance.
- If you’re not honest with your insurer, then your insurance may be null and void.
All recordable offences against you stay on the Police National Computer until you reach 100 years of age. And they’re always disclosable, should the situation arise.
How do I get cheap car insurance as a convicted driver?
Any conviction can potentially affect the cost of your car insurance. So that’s more reason to always shop around for the best quote.
But why not help yourself by re-examining your motoring needs – and make big changes, if you feel they’re practical. Check out the list below for the five best ideas.
Book an advanced driving course. If you’ve got a conviction some insurers will cut you some slack if you take extra training.
Avoid modifications. Modified or 'modded' vehicles make insurers nervous. Stripes, bonnet bulges and engine upgrades shout higher risk to your insurer. Try not to go there.
Limit your annual miles. The fewer miles you cover, the less risk your insurer has to bear. And the less you should pay for your premium.
Hike your voluntary excess. Usually the voluntary excess is valued between £100 and £500. You can’t change the compulsory excess but you can change this voluntary amount.
Change your car. A less powerful car or a vehicle with better security or safety almost always costs less to insure.