Are Felons Eligible for Life Insurance? A lot of felons try hard to be a changed man after they come back from prison and look forward to make meaningful contributions to their family. But past criminal record poses serious challenges for a felon once he re-enters into the mainstream society. They want to find a viable job to sustain their families financially. And employers are often biased when it comes to hiring a felon in their workforce. Another major area where felons face restrictions is life insurance. You are definitely concerned of your family and would wish to make arrangements for their sustainability in case something happens to you. This is where life insurance is really crucial.
Now, the question comes- are felons eligible for life insurance. Well, the post below sheds light on the eligibility of felons in the insurance space.
Life insurance firms extend coverage on the basis of some specific factors. These include demographics, lifestyle, age, health as well as financial status of the potential applicant.
Read also: Can an Ex-felon get a passport?
Risk factors considered by insurance companies
Well, honestly, insurance companies do deem felons as risky candidates for obvious reasons. And such an attitude does cast an impact in determining a felon’s application for life insurance.
Imprisonment is a huge thing for anybody and its effect may stay with the person long after he comes back from prison. Insurance companies are usually apprehensive of health risks when it comes to felons. Incarceration takes a toll on a person’s health and affects him both physically & mentally. The worst sufferers are those who have to serve a prolonged sentence.
On one hand, incarceration, especially long-time incarceration, can throw a person into depression and other severe mental issues. If the condition persists, the felon may even take to suicidal attempts.
On the other hand, insurance companies also count in the illnesses or diseases a felon may contract while in prison. Many such diseases may have a prolonged impact on the person’s health after he is released from prison and result in earlier death.
Apart from health, insurance companies are also concerned about the lifestyle of felons after they are released from prison. Many are of the opinion that the same high-risk lifestyle that rushed them to the prison may continue in future as well. It is claimed around 2 in 3 felons tend to return to prison shortly, within just couple of years after being released from prison for the first time. As a result, many insurers are apprehensive about insuring those felons who show a possibility of getting back behind the bars again and probably dying there.
- Crime type
Besides, the crime type committed by a felon application is also counted into risk factors by the insurance companies. Insurers follow a roster of crimes while determining a felon applicant’s eligibility for life insurance. If the crime committed by a felon application sits on that roster, he is certainly considered to be risky.
The crime list followed by insurers while evaluating a felon application’s eligibility ranks 5 menacing crimes in the topmost positions. These include property crimes, drug abuse, DUI, assault and larceny. Among all these, drug-related offenses are deemed to be the riskiest.
If the felon-applicant was convicted for drug-related offenses, insurance companies take their case under special attention. Applicants who had dabbled into drug offenses in the past are considered to be the riskiest of all felon-applicants in the insurance sector. It’s because, drug abuse leaves a prolonged impact on health and also abets recidivism rates.
You should know that the drug type taken by the felon-application is a determining factor when it comes to the approval of his life insurance application. For example, felons who used to take marijuana have better chances in getting approved for life insurance compared to those who were imprisoned for taking narcotics.
It’s to note here, most of the insurers would like to approve felons with a lesser type and different conviction than the ones mentioned above. But still, felons will be required to wait for minimum 2 years after coming back from prison, to apply and get approved for life insurance.
The waiting period is even more for most serious offenses. These include rape, murder, drug-trafficking, child molestation & kidnapping. If a felon-applicant has committed any of these crimes, he would have to wait for minimum 10 years. Depending on the severity of the crime, an insurer may cancel the application of a felon-applicant even after he has waited for 10 years.
The felon’s age, especially during the very time of his conviction, also plays a key role in deciding his approval for life insurance. Insurance companies even count in the time period after the sentence concluded & the applicant’s age while submitting the application. For obvious reasons, younger applicants usually have higher chances of getting approved compared to older felons.
Felons who are having a hard time in getting life insurance, must get a survey on a multitude of insurance firms. If one company refuses, the second or third one may approve the insurance after a strong negotiation. You may also consider consulting independent insurance agents as they can offer you easy accession to more varied policies compared to big insurance firms.
Other options in life insurance for felons
According to experts, felons must check out varied kinds of policies other than normal life insurance packages. This way, even if you don’t get approval for the normal life insurance policy, you will still have options to fall back upon.
So, what are the other options in life insurance for you?
To start with, you have Accidental Death Policy. As the name says, this policy pays out if the insured person dies in an accident. However, if the death is a result of natural causes or criminal activity, the insurance company won’t pay.
Another option is life insurance guaranteed policy. This policy is very flexible and would be a good option if you are not being approved for normal life insurance policy given your conviction status. A guaranteed policy offers approval with very minimal information. However, there is a catch. Under a guaranteed policy, the applicant’s family won’t receive the full payment at one go. The policy will offer just a part of death benefit in the first 3-4 years. The benefit will enhance over time during the initial time period.
The bottom-line is, life insurance firms do take into account a diverse range of factors while assessing the eligibility of a felon-applicant. While the felony type takes the center stage, the duration between getting released from prison & applying for the insurance is also considered. The felon-applicant’s age is also crucial here.
Besides, your chosen insurer would also like to check how much effort you have made to make your life better after getting released from prison. Thus, if you want to improve your chances before your life insurer, make sure to invest in positive efforts to make the best of your second chance.
Steps to take to enhance the likelihood of getting approved
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, your insurer will check what steps you have taken to rectify your life and lifestyle after you have got back from prison. Now, the rectification steps may vary from one felon to another, depending on the crime type.
For example, let’s say a felon-applicant had to serve a sentence for drug-related offenses. In that case, his life insurer would check whether he has successfully taken part in the addiction recovery programs and treatment. If so, the applicant may receive approval for life insurance. Besides, the insurance company will also evaluate the applicant’s lifestyle stability after getting released from prison.
The term “lifestyle stability” here refers to stability in employment and health. Your position in your community as well as your relationship with family members will also come under the radar. If a felon-applicant cannot show healthy relation in family and a respectable status in his community- the insurer will have second thoughts about his approval.
To increase your chances of getting approved for life insurance, you have to prove that you have shifted from the previous high-risk lifestyle to a moderate one. Insurance companies tend to avoid customers who pose risks for them. If you do not change your risky lifestyle, you are likely to find yourself in a mishap again. And that is a serious case of concern for any insurance company any day.
The bottom-line is you have to earn the trust of the insurance companies. Thus, a successful completion of rehab is extremely important for felon-applicants when they apply for life insurance. Depending on your typical case, you have to complete re-entry program, go for additional education as well as get your record expunged. All these steps will enhance your standing before the insurance company and eventually increase your chances of getting approved for life insurance.
Family support is crucial
It’s tough for any felon to get back to normal life after serving a sentence. Thus, family support is extremely significant here. Family members and friends should take a proactive step in helping the person to be able to take care of his near & dear ones.
I am Robert Gomez was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He currently lives in Northern California with “the wife,” “the kids,” “the dog,” and “that cat,” 🙁 He is also former journalist who has interviewed murderers on death row. Felonyfriendlyjobs.org was born to help ex-felons get a second chance in life.