Individuals who have a criminal record know how hard it is to get re-inserted in our society. It is hard to get a job, it is hard to get loans. It is even hard to bond with people once you tell them about your past. As sad and painful as the truth is, we all know that our society is highly prejudicial.
Fortunately, there are felons who manage to build their lives from scratch for a second time. And these people, who get jobs and start families after they leave prison/jail, might want to protect their loved ones in case anything happens to them.
Life insurance is the best way to ensure that your dependents will be financially secured after you pass away. However, most individuals don’t know if there is life insurance for felons. And most of them don’t know how the process of getting a policy works for people with a criminal record.
In this article, we’re going to explain everything you need to know in detail!
- Why Insurers Care About Felons?
- Type of Offense Is Important
- How Long You Must Wait Before Applying
- Life Insurance Options for Felons
- Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance for Felons
- Life Insurance While On Parole
- How to Increase Approval Chances
- Are There Any Extra Charges?
- Impact of Felons on Your Existing Life Insurance
Why Insurers Care About Felons?
First and foremost, being a felon doesn’t make you any less worthy of life insurance. You’re still a human being and, if you have the means of affording it, you should be allowed to get a life insurance policy.
Even though there are insurance companies that don’t offer policies to felons, there are insurers who don’t exclude anyone. It doesn’t matter what is your gender, religion, or political inclination.
These insurers will offer felons some options of life insurance, depending on the type of crime for which you were convicted.
Now, you may wonder why life insurance companies care about criminal records. We can assure you that it’s not because insurers have a problem against you personally. Actually, offering coverage to felons, in general, might cause them problems in the long run.
There are a few reasons for that, such as the fact that statistics show that more than half of the people who leave prison will return within the first 3 years of being outside. Because of data like this, insurers are extra careful when it comes to offering coverage for felons.
On top of that, data also shows that felons tend to live shorter lives than people with no criminal history. Insurers don’t want to risk offering policy coverage for individuals who may die soon after the waiting period.
Type of Offense Is Important
The thing is, insurers don’t look at all felons the same way. Their decisions regarding offering coverage to felons are based on actual statistics and not on generalizations.
Thus, an insurer knows that a person who served time for a larceny charge is not as likely to be involved and die in a fatal accident as a person who was charged for DUI, for instance.
Because of that, it’s important to know that the different types of crime will have a direct impact on your life insurance application process.
Let’s consider the larceny charge example we’ve mentioned. A larceny charge is not the most severe of criminal offenses, thus it won’t automatically ruin your eligibility. Assault or property crime charges are also common crimes, but these aren’t offenses that make an insurer deny your policy request.
It’s important to note that, if you were convicted of committing one of those three crimes and it happened long ago, your chances of getting an insurance policy will go up. If you were only convicted once and have been living a regular life since then, you’re even more likely to get coverage.
As to the other common offenses, such as driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs and drug-related crimes, they may lessen your chances of getting life insurance. A person who has been convicted for a drug-related crime, for instance, is much riskier than a person who was charged for assault.
Keep in mind that insurers will offer you coverage only after they have done thorough research on the statistics related to your criminal offense. If a person has served time in prison, there are chances that they may have a poor or questionable health condition due to the environment in which they were inserted.
If an individual was charged for DUI, there are chances that they may drink and drive again. Worst yet, felons convicted of an alcohol or drug-related offense have higher chances of dying due to substance abuse. An insurer will look at all these factors, and they may or may not prevent companies or independent agents from offering you coverage.
However, there are a few crimes that will automatically disqualify you from getting life insurance. These are considered “major” crimes, and they will follow you wherever you go, for the rest of your life.
If you are a felon convicted of offenses such as rape, drug trafficking, murder, child molestation, and kidnapping, you will be turned down at most, if not all, insurance companies. Still, if it’s been a long time, say, a decade, since you were released from prison, and you haven’t been involved in crimes again, you may qualify for a guaranteed acceptance policy.
How Long You Must Wait Before Applying
A valuable tip that we can give you is to wait as long as you possibly can before applying for life insurance. If you’re still on your probation period, it’s highly likely that the insurer will deny your application request.
If you reach out to an insurer right after you finish probation, you’re probably going to pay much higher rates than you would if you waited for a year or two. Insurance companies will take your criminal record into consideration for the rest of your life.
However, maybe it’s been a while since you were convicted and served time.
In this case, insurers will know that you’ve been leading a good life for a while, thus you’ll have more chances to get a policy.
Not to mention that your rates will be slightly lower — though they’ll still be higher premiums than the regular rates.
Nonetheless, in case you’re in need of an income replacement as soon as possible, you can always contact an independent agent or an insurance company and try to get a short term life insurance. Once your policy was over, you could change it to a different policy and maybe pay lower rates.
Life Insurance Options for Felons
There is something we have mentioned a few times already in this article. The time that has passed since your conviction. There is a reason why we’ve brought up this factor more than once so far: it is a highly important factor and it may determine whether you’ll get coverage and what type of coverage you’ll get.
If a long time has passed since your conviction and since you served time, you may even be qualified to request a traditional life insurance policy. It also depends on the type of offense, of course.
Let’s consider that you were charged for theft many years ago and you served time. It’s been 9 years since you completed probation and you’ve been living a good life, working on the same job, and living in the same residence since then. In this case, you may even go through the traditional qualification process.
Term Life Insurance
If you didn’t commit a major criminal offense, you may get a term policy coverage. Term Life Insurance lasts for a set period of time, which is the ‘term’, and it is less expensive than other types of policies.
Usually, insurance companies offer the following options: 5, 10, 20, or 30 years of coverage. The value of the death benefit will vary depending on how much you can afford to pay in monthly premiums and how much the insurer is willing to offer you.
Permanent Life Insurance
A permanent policy will cover you for the rest of your life. Thus, it is more expensive than Term Life Insurance. There are different types of permanent life insurance, such as Whole, Universal, Variable, Survivorship, and Variable Universal Life Insurance.
Keep in mind that, if you pass away while involved in criminal activity, the insurer will not pay the death benefit to your beneficiaries (the people who you designated to receive the sum of money).
Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance for Felons
Now, if you were convicted of one of the major offenses we mentioned previously, it’s highly likely you won’t get a Term Life Insurance policy nor a Permanent policy.
It doesn’t matter how long has passed since your conviction. But don’t worry! There’s a type of insurance policy for pretty much everyone, and felons will not be left out.
Depending on how long it’s been since you finished probation, you may qualify for a guaranteed acceptance policy.
As the name of this policy suggests, your request is guaranteed to be approved. This type of insurance doesn’t require that you show your medical history nor your criminal record to your insurer, thus they have no reason to deny your request.
This option is ideal for felons and it is your best shot at getting a life insurance coverage even if you committed a major crime. If you just finished probation and you’re in urgent need of income replacement, you should consider getting a Guaranteed Acceptance policy as well.
However, you have to be completely sure that the insurance company you’re contacting won’t request to check your criminal record, in order to ensure that there won’t be any chance that your coverage request will be denied.
Why is that? Well, some insurers take into consideration whether you’ve been denied a coverage request in the past. If you have, it might be harder to get insurance.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there are many risks that are imposed when one accepts to offer coverage without checking an individual’s medical history or criminal record. Thus, insurers charge much higher for a Guaranteed Acceptance policy. Because of its expensiveness, this policy might not be affordable.
Life Insurance While On Parole
When you’re a felon and you look for life insurance, you may fit into one of three categories.
The first category is, you’re an individual who’s currently being charged for a felony. The second category is for felons who have already been convicted and served their time.
The third and final category is, you were convicted, served your time, and now you’re on probation (or on parole, however it is called in your region).
Out of the three categories, only one is guaranteed to get at least one type of life insurance policy. Unfortunately, it’s not the first nor the third category. In other words, if you’re still waiting for trial or if you’re still on probation, you’re probably not going to get insurance.
In case your trial hasn’t taken place yet, the insurance company will wait until it is over or until the charges filed against you are dropped.
As to individuals on probation, it’s highly likely that insurance companies won’t accept that you apply for life insurance until your probation is finished for some time. Some companies might give you a chance one year after your probation. Other companies may wait for a longer period of time.
However, we mentioned earlier that maybe it is a good idea to wait for a while before applying for coverage. Your chances will increase if you show companies that you’ve been out of probation for over three years and you haven’t been involved in illicit deeds again. On top of that, you may even pay lower rates if you wait!
Still, if you’re in serious need of life insurance, you might look into getting a guaranteed acceptance policy.
How to Increase Approval Chances
As a felon, you will have a much harder time finding an insurance company that will be willing to offer you coverage. However, there are some things that you can do in order to increase your chances of qualifying for insurance.
Even though they aren’t sure-fire ways of getting approved, these tips may help you in this difficult process!
Improve Your Health
First and foremost, insurance companies give much importance to a policyholder’s health. It is not safe to risk offering coverage to an individual whose health is not the best. That is why there are different categories for policyholders, depending on their health. If you’re not exactly a healthy person, you may even pay higher rates.
The first step you can take while trying to qualify for insurance coverage is to work on your health.
Some tips include:
- Losing weight, if your weight/height ratio is not ideal.
- Once your probation is over, don’t drink alcohol and don’t smoke.
- Eating healthily.
- Start exercising regularly.
- In case you’ve developed a stress-related condition while in prison, seek psychological or psychiatric help.
Seek Rehabilitation Voluntarily
If you were charged for a drug or alcohol-related offense, an insurer may consider that you can fall back into old ways. However, they may look at you differently if you sought rehabilitation right out of prison/jail.
An individual who went to rehabilitation voluntarily is a person who is actually willing to change and become better than they used to be. And insurers recognize that.
Wait Before Applying
We’ve already mentioned the importance of waiting before applying for life insurance coverage. Not only is it beneficial to help lower the rates you’ll pay each month, but waiting is also important to get you accepted in the first place.
Previously in this article, we told you that there is data reporting that more than half of the population with a criminal record will serve time again in the first 3 years after being free.
Thus, if you wait for your probation to be over for 3 or more years, you’ll show the insurer that you’re not going back to that life.
The insurance company will understand that you’ve been living a decent life after leaving prison. Consequently, you’ll increase your chances of getting approved.
Are There Any Extra Charges?
There is no point in us lying to you.
Yes, there are extra charges when you apply for life insurance as a felon.
Insurers care a lot about the so-called risk factors. That is why they ask policyholders to disclose every single detail about their lives. If an individual has adventurous hobbies, such as skydiving, they’ll have to pay higher rates.
Some insurance companies charge higher rates even if you tell them you have a pool in your backyard!
When felons apply for life insurance, insurers will consider that they have higher risks of dying early on. Felons may have greater chances of dying due to substance intoxication or due to any diseases possibly contracted while in prison.
Because of the risk associated with having been incarcerated, insurers charge higher rates for felons.
As off now we talked about felons. Do you know how much the law-keepers pay? Read this article on life insurance for police officers.
Impact of Felons on Your Existing Life Insurance
Now, if you already have a life insurance policy and you’re convicted of a felony, things will be slightly different. Your whole life will change and your policy will change as well. There are two things that may happen to your existing insurance:
Your Premiums Will Increase
Depending on the severity of your criminal offense, your insurer may increase the amount you have to pay in premiums. If you have a Permanent Life Insurance policy, it’s likely that your current rates are expensive as it is. With a felony conviction, they will be even more expensive, and, perhaps, you’ll no longer be able to afford them.
Policy May Be Canceled
In case you’re being charged with a major criminal offense, such as murder, rape, or kidnapping, your insurer may cancel your policy and your beneficiaries won’t receive the death benefit anymore.
Life insurance is something that every individual should have, especially when they have people depending financially on them. Felons shouldn’t be excluded from this, and they shouldn’t have their insurance requests denied.
Life insurance for felons may be more expensive and harder to get, but it isn’t impossible. If you have a felony on your criminal record, you’re still qualified to apply for a policy, even if your options may be reduced.
Depending on the type of offense and how long it’s been since you were convicted, you can even qualify to apply for a traditional process. However, your approval chances may increase even further if you follow the tips we gave you in this article!