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Written by Ron Attias
Licensed Insurance Broker Ron Attias

Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Reviewed by Sara Routhier
Director of Outreach Sara Routhier

UPDATED: Jun 22, 2022

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The Brief

  • Obtaining life insurance for felons can be tough, but not impossible.
  • There are life insurance options for those with a misdemeanour offense or felony charges.
  • There are many other factors that add to the complexity of getting a life insurance policy.

There are many things a traditional life insurance company might consider when determining rates for felons as you can see from our sample life insurance rates page. Getting life insurance for felons can seem daunting. Do life insurance companies do criminal background checks on a life insurance application? They do.

For those awaiting their day in court after being charged with a felony, life insurance companies will usually not offer you a policy until after a verdict is reached. Traditional life insurance terms can be available to those that committed a misdemeanour or minor felony over five years ago. It is very rare to find a company that would award life insurance with no background check during the application process. A felon can get life insurance, but they will be viewed as a high-risk client.

Depending on the nature of the conviction, along with the amount of time that has passed since, you may still have some options. How else does a felony affect life insurance? Read on to find out. Can you get a life insurance policy for felons? Because you’ll be seen as high-risk, prices will be high, it’s important to search for affordable life insurance plans for felons in your area.

How much does life insurance cost?

How long your coverage lasts. Rule of thumb: Your term should last at least until you retire, and should also cover your longest financial obligation (like a child’s college costs).
The amount your loved ones would receive if anything should happen to you before your policy expires. Rule of thumb: Most financial planners recommend an amount 10-15x your current income.
Monthly estimates for life insurance rates are influenced by a number of factors, but your health has the biggest impact on the final cost.

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Do life insurance companies check criminal records?

When applying for life insurance with a criminal background (i.e., a felony conviction or misdemeanour) remember that insurance companies will deem you a high-risk client with a felony record. When applying for life insurance, an individual is assessed based on a set of potential risks to the carrier. The agency then decides to either approve the policy without restrictions, approve it with higher rates, or deny it.

In assessing an individual with a criminal history, an insurance company has to consider the impact incarceration might have had on the person’s well-being. Incarceration is undoubtedly a traumatic experience, one that can take a toll on mental and physical health.

But there’s also a higher chance of contracting certain diseases while in prison, which could ultimately result in death years later. Drug use is sometimes closely related to incarceration, and will also be considered by the life insurance company. These factors may result in premature death.

What will life insurance companies ask about your criminal record?

In the early stages of applying for life insurance, companies may ask the candidates a series of questions to determine the risk involved with the new policy. For those with a criminal background, companies may ask:

  • What type of felony were you charged with?
  • How severe was the crime?
  • Were you incarcerated? How long?
  • How long ago was it?
  • How have you turned your life around?
  • Was there a probation period?

The answers to some of these questions may make it hard to find life insurance. For example, those convicted of drug/alcohol-related crimes might find it harder to find life insurance, due to their possible health risks. Most major felonies will also prevent you from getting life insurance, including rape, murder, etc. However, it is important to answer these questions honestly, so that your agent can help determine the best life insurance rates for felons possible.

What life insurance options do felons have?

Can felons get life insurance? If you’re trying to get life insurance as a felon, but have been turned down, you have three choices for a more accessible policy:

  • Group life insurance through your employer If you work for a company and they provide life insurance, you could get a life policy through that program. Keep in mind that the coverage is effective as long as you work for them. Generally, this type of insurance does not require a background check from the insurance company. Typical coverage amounts range from $25,000 to $50,000.
  • Accidental death and dismemberment insurance – This policy pays benefits for death caused by an accident. A death resulting from a heart attack or stroke won’t be covered. This isn’t ideal, but it’s better than nothing.
  • Guaranteed issue – This policy has a two to three years graded benefits clause, which means that, if you die within two to three years, no death benefit will be paid; instead the beneficiaries will collect the total premium paid plus 10% interest. The max amount on guaranteed issue life insurance for convicted felons (or anyone) is $40,000 and you must be over the age of 40.

Can a felon get a life insurance license? Can a felon sell life insurance? There are some felonies that bar you from getting your insurance license, but can a felon work in insurance? It is up to the individual insurance company to decide if they wish to hire a formerly incarcerated person.

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Can felons work for life insurance companies?

Maybe you are a felon, and you would like to work in the world of life insurance. You may be asking yourself, “Can I get an insurance license with a felony?”, “Can I get an insurance license with a background check?” or “Can a felon sell life insurance?”

Some felonies bar you from getting your insurance license. However, other crimes won’t stand in your way. It is up to the individual insurance company to decide if they wish to hire a formerly incarcerated person.

What life insurance companies offer policies to felons?

As we mentioned before, every carrier will look at your situation differently. However, you’ll want to keep in mind that the most lenient carrier is Prudential. Prudential uses “underwriting credits.” In plain English, that means that, if someone is overweight and between the ages of 18 and 59 and has no other medical issues, metabolic syndrome, or diabetes, they could get a policy for a preferred rate instead of a standard one. They give customers “credits” for overall health and don’t concentrate too much on weight.

The same goes for a felony. If you can show an outstanding recovery and rehabilitation, you may get a better rate. It’s doubtful this would be preferred, but a standard to table 4 would be the norm. (You would expect to pay two to three times as much as someone who has preferred table ratings.) Keep in mind that underwriting guidelines are changed frequently, and what is true today may not be accurate in a few months.

If you have a felony conviction on your record, talk to a broker who is familiar with the underwriting guidelines of every carrier out there. It costs you nothing, and you have someone on your side who wants you to have a policy because this is how they make their living.

Can I get life insurance while on probation?

Unfortunately, that’s not usually an option. Life insurance companies require a one-to-five-year waiting period after probation has ended to obtain coverage with a standard rating class. (It all depends on the company’s underwriting.) The further back your criminal activity happened, the better.

Many life insurance companies don’t want to insure a person on probation because there is a higher likelihood of returning to jail and life insurance for inmates is nearly impossible to obtain.

The criminal justice system is still monitoring someone on probation, and any small violation can place him or her in prison once again.

Former felons looking to buy life insurance should always be honest. The first thing the carrier does when they get an application is a background check. If you lied on the application, they will deny your application without giving you a chance. And keep in mind that being denied life insurance with one carrier will open the doors for others to follow suit.

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How can you get life insurance with a felony conviction?

The reality is that it isn’t easy for people with felony convictions to get life insurance. It can be very frustrating, and the underwriting process might be longer than the usual four to six weeks. There are two routes you can take:

  • Call and apply to all the carriers out there and hope to get your application issued. Lots of time and trouble go into this.
  • Call one broker who deals with all the insurers and just be honest about what happened. You will get a clear answer on your chances of getting a life insurance policy and how to accomplish it. (Once again, the type and severity of the conviction, along with the period of time that has passed since, will have a major impact on the kind of coverage you’ll be able to get, how much you will pay, or whether you will get one at all.) An independent broker can advise you about other options you may have if your application for a conventional policy is declined.

Life insurance with a misdemeanour is easier to obtain; often, insurance companies won’t even ask about it.

What are some important tips on life insurance for felons?

When applying for life insurance, be sure that you write an exceptional cover letter describing your situation as is described by the Harvard Business Review. Tell the company what happened, and take full responsibility for your conviction. If you can show a stable workplace, some education, and a connection to service in your community, you will have a far better chance of getting your life insurance policy issued. Also, be sure to research policies specific to your area.

The table below will give you an idea of the average cost of life insurance from some of the larger life insurance companies.

Average Annual Life Insurance Rates by Age & Gender
Policyholder Age and GenderAverage Annual New York Life RatesAverage Annual Prudential Financial RatesAverage Annual Lincoln National Rates Average Annual Massachusetts Mutual RatesAverage Annual Aegon / Transamerica RatesAverage Annual John Hancock RatesAverage Annual State Farm RatesAverage Annual Overall Rates
25-year-old female$158.00$195.00$187.00$132.00$164.00$172.00$143.00$164.50
25-year-old male$152.00$237.00$231.00$147.00$176.00$178.30$164.00$183.61
35-year-old female $164.00$196.00$191.00$137.00$161$178.30$166.00$170.47
35-year-old male$160.00$248.00$238.00$151.00$17.00$189.80$175.00$190.40
45-year-old female$262.00$314.00$239.00$209.00$229.00$241.50$238.00$247.50
45-year-old male$245.00$378.00$283.00$230.00$255.00$292.10$239.00$274.59
55-year-old female$414.00$496.00$435.00$373.00$453.00$407.10$341.00$417.01
55-year-old male$696.00$584.00$615.00$451.00$527.00$533.60$396.00$543.23
65-year-old female$924.00$941.00$903.00$763.00$1,139.00$937.30$684.00$898.76
65-year-old male$1,416.00$1,412.00$1,577.00$1,049.00$1,367.00$1,380.00$955.00$1,308.00
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Insurance companies want your business, but not for any price. The underwriting method provides them with time to perform their groundwork and get to know you before deciding whether or not you’re a good match for them. Despite the hurdles, obtaining a life insurance policy with a criminal background is possible. Life insurance for felons can be easily found.