Getting a criminal conviction while driving is something that many drivers will unfortunately encounter in their time on the road. For example, statistics released by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) show that 5,179 drivers were banned for driving recklessly in 2016 around the UK, an increase of 29 per cent (or 1,173 incidents) on figures recorded in 2015.
Convictions – whether for motoring or non-motoring offences – can have an impact on the cover you want to obtain, how expensive it is, or whether you can get it at all. Working in the motor trade, it is especially important to avoid convictions as driving is a big part of your livelihood.
The good news is that it is may be possible to secure motor trade insurance with convictions in tow. However, this can vary greatly depending on what sort of offences we are talking about.
Non-motoring offences tend to be more difficult to negotiate than those related to driving and the impact it will have on the availability of cover – or the price of your premiums, if possible – varies greatly.
The first point to make is that it is always prudent to be honest with your insurer from the off if you’re insure about the impact certain convictions or issues may have, rather than finding out later that you are not covered by your policy.
Criminal convictions are relevant when applying for any type of motor or motor trade insurance and should always be disclosed to your broker, along with any relevant, material facts that relate to your conviction.
When it comes to prison sentences, disclosing such convictions should be done in line with the “Rehabilitation of Offenders Act”. In general, this mandates that any conviction with a prison term of less than six months should be disclosed for seven years; those with a term of more than six months should be noted for ten years.
It’s important to remember that your insurer will determine whether there are risk-related factors that will be relevant to your premium price, so be honest and up-front! Depending on the severity of such details and the circumstances surrounding them, an insurer may decline to offer you cover.
Driving at the problem
It goes without saying that driving convictions are also of interest to your insurer and, as with criminal convictions, will vary a lot in the effect they will have on your cover, its cost and even its availability.
Minor convictions might include a speeding offence, known by the DVLA by the code SP30, or failing to observe traffic directions (TS50) or lights (TS10), or driving a vehicle with faults or other failings, such as defective brakes (CU10) or too many passengers (CU50)
These usually carry at least three penalty points, with optional expansion depending on the severity of the breach.
In general, these sorts of offences will remain visible to authorities for four years from the date of the offence, conviction or from when a driving disqualification was imposed, if relevant. For insurers, this often caps at three years.
Depending on what your insurer and broker are willing to cover, these sorts of offences may well add to your premium or, in the case where you have multiple offences to your name, make it more difficult for you to obtain insurance at all.
More serious motoring convictions such as drink driving charges (DR10) or driving under the influence of drugs (DG10) remain actively on your driving record for much longer, for up to 11 years in most cases.
Insurance companies can potentially only be aware of them for five years after the fact but, thanks to this gap, individual cases may apply. They will also weigh heavier against your new insurance application than lesser offences.
A common misconception is that once you have been banned for accumulating multiple points – at present, a total of 12 penalty points amassed with three years, known as ‘totting up’ (TT99) – and a driver is disqualified, then a licence is “clean” thereafter. Usually, this will result in a six-month driving ban once the total has been reached and information about this conviction will be made available to insurers for four years after the fact.
Again, informing your insurer of any convictions you have against you is the wisest course of action.
With all this in mind, at the end of the day your priority as a driver and a business owner is to drive safely and avoid picking up any motoring offences.
There are also guidelines available from a number of sources to help ex-offenders who are trying to get hold of insurance policies, such as those published by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) along with UNLOCK, the National Association of Reformed Offenders.
If you do pick up an offence, due to misfortune, neglect or just a bad day, there some situations in which we can help advise on the best route to take to help your motor trade business get the cover that it needs, depending on your circumstances. Get in touch with ChoiceQuote’s friendly team and we will do our best to help you.