Life Insurance for Felons

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by Scott Bawek last reviewed August 2022
An applicant attempts to fill out a criminal background check

A felony conviction can impact your ability to get life insurance, but it doesn’t make it impossible. With over 35 years of experience finding the right policies for our customers, SelectQuote understands that a unique situation may raise some questions about securing life insurance.  Questions we often hear in relation to criminal records and convictions are: 

  • If you have a criminal record, can you buy life insurance? 
  • How do you apply for life insurance if you’re a convicted felon? 
  • Can you still get life insurance if you’re in prison?

The answers—like most insurance questions—can often feel complicated. As with other decisions made by insurance companies, it comes down to an issue of risk. Our licensed insurance agents can help you answer these life insurance questions and more. This article will discuss life insurance and whether felony charges impact your ability to find coverage. 

Do life insurance companies care about your criminal record and will they check it during the application process?

Life insurance companies do care about your criminal record for a variety of reasons. Insurance companies charge life insurance premiums based on perceived risk and a felony conviction is viewed as a sign of high risk.

As part of its underwriting process, life insurance companies look at a variety of risk factors including medical history, criminal records, and other background checks to look at your history from a holistic standpoint. If the felony conviction is non-violent, it’s likely the life insurance companies will be able to provide you coverage, just with a higher premium. If the felony offense is considered violent, there is a good chance you will be denied coverage. 

The Life Insurance Application and Criminal Records

Need an example of how convictions can impact life insurance applications? “White-collar” felony crimes, including fraud, counterfeiting or tax evasion don’t automatically exclude you from qualifying for life insurance coverage. Life insurance underwriting may be more forgiving in these situations than in others.

However, most insurance companies likely won’t approve you for a policy if you’re convicted of the following:

  • Child molestation
  • Kidnapping
  • Drug trafficking
  • Rape
  • Murder
  • Conspiracy to commit any of the above crimes

Life Insurance and Drug-related Felonies

If you’ve been denied life insurance because of felony drug possession or intent to sell in the past, there’s a chance you can still get life insurance. Some life insurance carriers may be more likely to insure you than others under these circumstances. These carriers will consider the following factors related to felony convictions for drug charges:

  • Amount of time served in jail or prison
  • Time since the felony occurred
  • Time since parole probation periods
  • Length of parole or probation period

The type of drug-related felony also plays a role. Marijuana possession, for example, isn’t as much of a red flag for insurance companies as convictions for trafficking or distributing cocaine or heroin. Being far removed from a conviction will give you the best chance of being insured.

To find companies more likely to approve your application despite drug-related felonies, work with an experienced company like SelectQuote which can search dozens of carriers at once based on your unique situation.

Can I still apply for life insurance if I’m facing felony charges?

If you’re in the process of being charged with a felony, you can’t get life insurance until after the trial ends and/or the case is dismissed. Most insurance agents recommend that you do not apply for life insurance if you’re currently being charged with a crime.

How to Buy Life Insurance if You’re a Convicted Felon

Felony convictions and criminal history present large obstacles to getting life insurance. While you may not be approved for a term life insurance or whole life insurance policy, there are other ways to find life insurance coverage.

One option is an accidental death and dismemberment policy. Although this policy does not protect you or your loved ones in the event of death due to illness, it can still provide coverage in the event of an accident.

Another option is to purchase group life insurance through your employer. The coverage for this type of policy lasts as long as you’re employed, and usually doesn’t require a background check. Group life insurance coverage typically ranges from $25,000 to $50,000, although amounts vary by carrier.

Guaranteed issue life insurance coverage is another option, as you can’t be turned down if you’re between the ages of 45-85. This kind of insurance falls under the category of final expense insurance. These policies ask no health questions, require no medical exam and typically only cover enough to pay for funeral and burial expenses. 

Can I get a life insurance policy if I have a misdemeanor?

Unlike felonies, you’re still able to buy life insurance with a misdemeanor. They don’t have a major impact on your premiums or other costs. However, it’s important to be transparent and truthful about your situation and criminal record. 

Some states have different statutes for felonies and misdemeanors. The licensed insurance agents at SelectQuote can walk you through finding life insurance coverage with a misdemeanor. 

Can I buy a life insurance policy on an inmate?

Insurance companies generally consider issuing life insurance for prison inmates as too much of a risk. Underwriters are hesitant to even approach prison inmates as potential insured parties because of the risks that come with being incarcerated. Access to financial assets is restricted and medical exams and/or records are more difficult to acquire, making it a nonstarter for most carriers.

Things are different for inmates with existing individual life insurance coverage. As long as you continue to pay your premiums and don’t die while committing an actual criminal act, your coverage will be guaranteed. 

The exception to this is group life insurance through your employer. Because you are no longer eligible for employee benefits if you are incarcerated, you also will lose that life insurance coverage.

Find the Right Life Insurance Policy with SelectQuote

You’re not alone if you have a felony or misdemeanor conviction and have concerns about how it can impact your eligibility for life insurance coverage. While every situation is different, there are life insurance carriers who often help felons or others with criminal records find life insurance coverage.

At SelectQuote, our licensed insurance agents can help you start by comparing life insurance rates on your behalf. To learn more about life insurance options available to felons, get started on your free quote today.

We do the shopping. You do the saving.