How a record affects your ability to get cover with a bad driving history.
If you have a rocky driving history or a criminal record, you might have already realised that it can be bad news for your car insurance.
If it’s not a driving-related offense, then it won’t necessarily impact your car insurance unless it reasonably increases the risk an insurer takes in offering you cover.
For example, previous drug-related charges might not affect your car insurance, but a conviction for insurance fraud might.
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Can car insurance companies see my driving or criminal record?
“...nobody can go to the RMS and get a copy of your record without a subpoena," Andrew Tiet, partner at Armstrong Legal, NSW
According to a legal professional who spoke to CarsGuide, nobody can access your record without an appropriate subpoena, including insurers.
Instead, they can ask you to provide this information and require you to be honest about it as a condition of your car insurance policy.
If you decline to provide the information, they might decline to offer you cover, and if you’re found to be dishonest about it later on, they may be able to cancel your policy, raise the price or decline a claim.
The last thing you want to do is take out a car insurance policy without being honest in the application. This might just lead to you paying for a policy that won’t pay out when you need it.
Being honest about your history is the safest bet.
How to check your own driving history
You’ll need to know your own driving history before you can be honest, but you can access your own record easily enough in Australia.
- In NSW - Contact the RMS, pay the fee and get the record.
- In QLD - Contact the DTM, pay the fee and get the record.
- In VIC - You can order a five-year or lifetime record from VicRoads.
- In SA - You can apply to have your driving record posted to you.
- In WA - Get a five-year record from the WA Police website.
- In NT - You can get a history of fines and offences from the motoring authority, but convictions are only obtainable from the NT Police.
- In TAS - Access a five-year history through the motoring authority
- In the ACT - Choose between a 3-, 5- or 10-year history from the motoring authority
How does a criminal record affect car insurance?
It all depends on the offences and the insurer. For example, some insurers will barely increase premiums for people with DUI convictions, while others will refuse to cover them at all.
It doesn’t have to be a criminal offense either. Minor infringements, such as a parking ticket, can also impact your car insurance as can many other factors.
If you’re having trouble finding affordable cover, the key is to shop around as much as possible and keep going until you find a good option.
Other than that, you can look for ways to cut down the price.
- Shop around. It might be a pain, but sometimes doing the legwork is the only way. This list of Australian car insurance providers is a good place to start.
- Consider your cover. You probably don’t want to end up underinsured, but adjusting your cover can help lower the price. You might opt out of the optionals, go for market value rather than agreed value cover or look for third-party property damage cover rather than comprehensive car insurance.
- Consider your vehicle. Cheaper cars usually mean much cheaper insurance. If you’re in a real bind, you might do your wallet a big favour by downgrading.
When else will I need to provide my record?
Certain motoring jobs may also require you to provide your criminal record or have a background check.
Lying about your record can be a very serious criminal offence, and an offence like that probably won’t make things any easier.
It’s also worth remembering that just because someone requests your record or conducts a background check, that doesn’t mean they’ll automatically disqualify someone if they find anything. With car insurance and other things, it might be useful to provide a convictions record when requested.