If you have a traffic citation or criminal conviction on your driving record, you're probably paying handsomely for your auto insurance. Most insurance companies will ask you to report driving convictions that occurred within five years of your policy's renewal date. These include less-serious offenses like traffic tickets as well as serious transgressions like impaired driving and vehicular manslaughter. The cost of your insurance coverage will remain elevated for as long as these convictions remain on your record.
The length of time that insurance companies may require you to report prior convictions can vary between legal jurisdictions. Although the benchmark reporting window lasts for five years, several states adhere to even stricter regulations. For instance, Massachusetts requires drivers to report prior convictions for a full decade. In the states with reporting windows of five years or less, some discount auto insurance providers may demand just three years of reported criminal history.
While it's technically possible to hide this information from your insurance company, it's not recommended: Every state maintains a centralized criminal database that contains records of criminal convictions for every resident who possesses a driver's license. If you choose to mislead your new insurance provider about your driving history, your coverage may be dropped.
The customs and regulations involving prior convictions may be different in other countries. If you're moving overseas, you may find it easier to procure low-cost auto insurance without reporting years' worth of past driving convictions.
For instance, it's possible to find a few U.K.-based car insurance companies that ask for just three years of criminal convictions. Many others ask for four years of prior criminal convictions. These are often "budget" insurers that offer discounts relative to Great Britain's expensive mainline auto insurance companies. Of course, these companies tend to accept fewer claims and often issue partial payouts in situations that warrant full payouts.
Many Canadian auto insurance companies also look for just three or four years' worth of driving convictions. The criminal database used by most Canadian police departments seals convictions after a three-year reporting period. While these convictions remain in the system, they aren't "visible" to on-duty police officers. Since it's also more difficult for insurance companies to find these convictions, many Canadian drivers are effectively able to wipe clean their records after just three years. However, insurance companies that adhere to stricter reporting windows may deny claims or coverage upon learning about such "unreported" prior convictions.