The insurance contract includes a duty known as “uberrima fides”, the duty of utmost good faith. It means that a higher duty of disclosure is required from people in relation to insurance contracts than other types of contract. If someone fails to disclose a fact deemed to be material to an insurance contract, the insurance company may have the right to cancel the policy, ab initio. This results in the possibility of a contract being deemed null and void and treated as never having been in existence.
Court convictions are generally required to be disclosed when seeking insurance. The enactment of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 (“the Act”) means that where certain criteria are met, a person may no longer have to disclose certain convictions when seeking insurance. The Act came into force on 29th April 2016.
- The person must be over the age of 18 on the date of commission of the offence,
- At least 7 years must have passed since the effective date of conviction,
- The sentence imposed by the court in respect of the conviction cannot be an“excluded sentence”; and
- The person must have complied with the court order in respect of the conviction concerned.
The “effective date of conviction” means the date on which a sentence, e.g, fine, driving ban, imprisonment, becomes operative. This is particularly important, for example, in drink driving cases where a delay of perhaps six months is allowed before a driving ban takes effect. The 7 year period will run from this later date, rather than the date of actual conviction.
Generally, no more than one conviction may be regarded as spent. More than one conviction will mean that none of the convictions can be regarded as spent. However, if a person is convicted of 2 or more offences committed simultaneously or arising from the same incident the convictions can be regarded as one single conviction.
Similarly, anyone convicted of fraud, deceit or dishonesty in respect of a claim under an insurance policy of assurance will not be excused from disclosing such a conviction when applying for any subsequent insurance.
- People no longer have to disclose spent convictions when seeking insurance.
- There is increased access to insurance for a large number of people.