by Bob Cook
As a company that deals with people who have had their insurance cancelled or their existing insurer refusing to renew their buildings and contents policy, we are used to dealing who are shocked, hurt and somewhat baffled that this should have happened to them. It is natural for many of our customers to feel that the insurer’s action is in some way unfair and that this simply shouldn’t have happened to them.
It is common for us to receive a call from a distraught customer saying that they have held insurance for 20 years, have never claimed, have never missed paying a premium and have never been in any trouble, yet their insurer has just cancelled their policy ! The problem typically is that their 18 year old child has just received a 2 year suspended sentence for a minor criminal act following a late night on the town. The question we are asked is “My insurer has cancelled my policy because my child has a criminal conviction – are they allowed to do this, is this fair” ? The very simple answer is yes.
If you find yourself in this situation, then the team at www.home-insurance-help.co.uk the specialist home insurance company, can help you find alternative cover at a reasonable premium. “We deal with cases like this every day”, said Cathy Luzmore senior home insurance specialist at Home Insurance Help. “Our aim is simply to help you and not to judge or criticise”.
Once somebody living at an address has a criminal conviction then the main stream insurers will not cover the property until the conviction is spent. This may seem harsh especially when their appears to be no link to the conviction and any risk to the property. We cannot speak definitively for any insurer but we believe that the insurers do not want to get involved in any great underwriting exercise trying to distinguish between various convictions and working out who is a good risk and who isn’t. If they did do this then it would put up their costs, they will then have to pass these extra costs on to all of their customers by way of a premium increase. This could mean that customers who do not have a criminal conviction switch to a competitor and the original insurer finds themselves with fewer customers. For this reason all of the main insurers tend not to cover any property where somebody living there has a criminal conviction.
So the obvious question arising from this situation is “am I going to pay more for my insurance because I have a criminal conviction” ? – Not necessarily.
Charleigh Cooper at Home Insurance Help explained, “We have to use specialist insurers for customers who have somebody who has a person with a criminal conviction living at their address. Their premium will be influenced by two main factors, the typical insurance details of the property and the severity of the conviction. Somebody who has a conviction for fraud could face a significant increase to their premium, for others the increase could be negligible. We have had customers come to us in this situation and we have actually saved them money on their existing policy. We cannot guarantee this will happen every time, but it does happen”.
While for a parent having their insurance cancelled this can come as an additional shock, on top of their child’s conviction, it is important that they deal with it quickly and properly. All insurance policies place an obligation on the policyholder to declare to the insurer anything that would affect the insurer’s ability to offer cover. As the money advice service makes clear “You always have to declare unspent criminal convictions when you buy insurance – even if you’re not asked”
A policyholder declaring ignorance of these conditions or in any other way turning a blind eye to the situation could find their problems increasing. They will not only find it even harder to obtain insurance in the future (even after the conviction is spent), but in very extreme cases they could end up with a conviction of their own.