People with a felony conviction may find life insurance policies catering to their circumstances. Depending on the severity of the crime and conviction, your options may be limited. Some life insurance companies that insure felons may also impose additional rules, such as higher premiums and waiting periods.

Understanding the different factors insurance companies consider when determining eligibility, common types of coverage available to felons and the buying process can help you make well-informed decisions when shopping for a policy.

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Can You Get Life Insurance if You're a Felon?

Getting life insurance for felons isn’t impossible, but it may be a bit challenging. Felons may have access to different types of life insurance policies, such as guaranteed issue life insurance, term life insurance and whole life insurance, but insurers may have specific rules and limitations.

Do Life Insurance Companies Check Criminal Records?

Life insurance companies typically perform comprehensive background checks on potential policyholders, a process that includes the review of an individual's criminal record. This allows insurers to gauge the level of risk involved in extending coverage to the applicant.

Criminal history can provide valuable insights into the applicant’s lifestyle and potential risk factors, influencing the underwriting process and the terms of the policy. The impact of a criminal record may vary, depending on the nature of the crime, the time elapsed since the conviction and the person's subsequent lifestyle changes.

Factors Life Insurance Companies Consider

Felons who may be eligible for traditional life insurance policies typically meet certain criteria that demonstrate a lower risk profile to insurance companies. These criteria can include:

  • Time Since Conviction: Felons who were convicted 10 or more years ago (or 20 years ago for certain crimes) may be considered for traditional life insurance. Significant time elapsed since the conviction can indicate a stable, low-risk lifestyle.

  • Probation or Parole Status: Individuals who haven't been on probation or parole for at least 10 years may be eligible. This demonstrates a sustained period of compliance with legal requirements.

  • Nature of the Crime: Felons whose convictions weren't related to violent crimes like rape, murder, attempted murder or manslaughter may have a better chance of securing traditional life insurance. Violent crimes are often viewed as higher risk by insurance companies.

Every insurer has its own eligibility rules for applicants. Some may limit the types of policies they offer to people with a criminal history, regardless of how long ago the conviction was. Compare the different types of life insurance and ask about available options to make sure you're getting the most suitable policy based on your specific circumstances.

How Does a Felony Impact Life Insurance?

A felony conviction can significantly impact both the eligibility and terms of life insurance due to its implications on an individual's risk profile. Insurance companies operate on the principle of risk assessment, and a criminal record can be perceived as an indicator of potential risk.

Certain felonies might be associated with hazardous behaviors or lifestyles that could shorten life expectancy, increasing the likelihood of the insurer needing to pay out the policy prematurely. This heightened risk often translates into specific impacts on life insurance terms:

  • Increased Premiums: A felony can lead to higher premiums as insurance companies view it as a risk factor. These higher premiums help offset the potential for a premature payout.

  • Waiting Periods: Some insurers may impose a waiting period before coverage begins. This period allows the insurer to assess if the applicant’s post-conviction lifestyle aligns with a lower-risk profile.

  • Denial of Coverage: In extreme cases, particularly if the felony involved violent or life-threatening behavior, insurance companies may deny coverage outright.

Not all criminal records are treated equally. The nature of the crime, the time elapsed since the conviction and evidence of rehabilitation can all influence the insurer’s decision. Each case is assessed individually, allowing for a customized approach to underwriting that could potentially lead to more favorable terms.

Life Insurance Options for People with a Felony

People with a criminal record have different options when it comes to life insurance:

  • Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance: This type of policy is a popular choice for those with a criminal record as it offers coverage without the need for a medical exam or background check. The trade-off for this guaranteed acceptance is typically higher premiums and lower coverage amounts. It's an ideal choice for those who may struggle to secure coverage through other means due to their criminal history.

  • Term Life Insurance: Term life insurance gives you coverage for a specified term, which usually ranges from 10 to 30 years. Some insurers may offer this type of policy to individuals with a criminal record, depending on the nature and severity of the felony and the time elapsed since the conviction. It is a cost-effective option that provides substantial coverage for a set period, making it suitable for those seeking to cover specific financial obligations.

  • Whole Life Insurance: Whole life insurance offers lifelong coverage and includes a cash value component with guaranteed growth over time. Eligibility for this type of insurance will depend on various factors, including the nature of the felony and the individual's lifestyle changes since the conviction. While premiums for whole life insurance are typically higher than term life, the policy can serve as a long-term investment, providing both a death benefit and a cash value component.

If you have a felony conviction, ask insurance companies about their rules and limitations. This can help you find a policy that best aligns with your needs and circumstances.

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Life insurance companies that insure felons may have a set of rules specific to this demographic. These can limit the types of policies available to felons. For instance, a company might only offer guaranteed issue life insurance to felons. Some may provide term life insurance but with stipulations such as a longer waiting period or higher premiums.

Alternative Coverage Options for People with a Felony

For individuals with a felony conviction, traditional life insurance may not always be accessible or affordable. That said, there are alternative coverage options that can provide some level of financial protection.

  • Group Life Insurance: Many employers include group life insurance in their employee benefits package. These policies typically don't require a medical exam or background check, making them a viable option for individuals with a felony. However, coverage often ends if employment is terminated.

  • Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) Insurance: This type of policy pays out if the policyholder dies or is seriously injured in an accident. Although accidental death and dismemberment insurance doesn't provide the comprehensive coverage of a traditional life insurance policy, it can offer some financial protection.

  • Final Expense Insurance: Also known as burial or funeral insurance, final expense life insurance is designed to cover end-of-life expenses. These policies typically have lower coverage amounts, but acceptance is often guaranteed, making them a potential option for individuals with a felony.

  • Annuities: While not a form of life insurance, annuities can provide a steady stream of income for a set period or for life, offering a form of financial protection for loved ones. Annuities don’t require a background check, and you can purchase them from insurance companies.

How to Buy Life Insurance for Felons

Buying life insurance as a felon involves a few extra steps, but with the right approach, it is possible to secure coverage.


Understand Your Needs

The first step in securing life insurance is to assess your personal needs. This involves determining the amount of coverage necessary to protect your loved ones financially in the event of your passing. Consider factors such as debts, income replacement and future expenses like college tuition for children. The type of policy that best suits your needs — term, whole or guaranteed issue — will also depend on your individual circumstances.


Compare Offers and Insurers

Different insurance companies have varying methods of risk assessment, which can lead to differences in policy offerings and premiums. Take the time to compare quotes from multiple providers. This will not only help you find the most affordable option but also the one that offers the best terms for your specific situation.


Be Honest

Provide accurate information about your criminal history. Misrepresentation or omission of facts can lead to the cancellation of your policy or denial of a claim, which could leave your loved ones without the financial protection they need.


Seek Professional Help

The process of securing life insurance as a felon can be complex. Consider enlisting the help of an insurance broker or agent who has experience in this area. They can guide you through the process, help you understand your options and advocate on your behalf to secure the best possible terms for your policy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about securing life insurance as a felon.

About Melissa Wylie

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Melissa Wylie is a Content and SEO Manager at MoneyGeek. Melissa has worked in the financial content space since 2018 and has spent much of that time focused on all things small business.

Prior to joining MoneyGeek, Melissa held SEO positions at Bankrate and LendingTree. Melissa’s work has also appeared on LendingTree-owned websites ValuePenguin and MagnifyMoney.

Melissa began her career at American City Business Journals in 2015 as a reporter for the company’s women-focused publication Bizwomen. Melissa has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of North Texas. Melissa relies on her foundation in journalism to craft content that simplifies complex financial topics to help everyone feel confident when making decisions with their money.

Melissa's other work can be read on LendingTree and Bizwomen.