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The ‘criminal record’ that floored £5k policy payout

BEFORE someone takes out home insurance, they are asked whether anyone in the household has an unspent criminal record. Answering ‘yes’ can result in cover either becoming more expensive or declined altogether – although specialist insurers do now offer policies to households where a member has a criminal record.

The reason why insurers get edgy is that they see a criminal as a greater insurance risk.

Rachel McNamee, from Prenton, Merseyside, has just found out how costly it can be not to disclose an unspent criminal record.

In August, she took out home cover with Halifax. When applying, she was asked to agree or disagree to the statement: ‘You or anyone living with you have no unspent criminal convictions.’ She answered: ‘Agree’.

It was the wrong answer because two months earlier her 21-year-old son had received a conditional discharge order for harassing someone and causing them distress. The order stated that provided he did not commit another offence during the 18-month order, he would not be punished.

Rachel is a hard-working individual who has never broken the law. She made a genuine mistake in thinking a conditional discharge order was not a criminal conviction (I didn’t know either until I did an internet search).

Sadly, it has cost her. In October, a broken valve in the bathroom of her four-bedroom home caused the floor to collapse, pictured above. It was only when assessors came round to look at the damage that they learnt from Rachel that her son had a conditional discharge order. Last month, Halifax voided her cover. She will now have to pay the £5,000 of damage from her own pocket.

I’m not casting blame at Halifax’s door, although maybe its statement on criminal convictions should spell out that conditional discharge orders are included.

Yet there is a massive disconnect between the cause of the claim (a leaky valve) and the reason for its decline (a failure to realise that a conditional discharge order is a criminal conviction.) I think Rachel has been punished harshly. What’s your view? Email:

Wealth & Personal Finance




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