When applying for fully underwritten traditional life insurance, most insurance carriers are going to inquire about any felony convictions you may have had in the past. It makes sense – if a life insurance company is willing to check your motor vehicle record for your driving behavior, then they would likely search your history for any felonies that may have been committed. These are just some of the things that go into the underwriting process to determine how acceptable a potential insured person will be to purchase life insurance with a felony conviction.
There is one major point that should be made here. Simply because a person has been charged with a felony does not make them a felon. Only if a person has been convicted of a felony are they classified as a felon. The vast majority of the time, the insurance carrier will need to know how much time has passed since you were convicted of your felony charge. Most carriers will also need to know the details of any sentences you were to serve for said conviction. Of all these things, the most important to almost any life insurance carrier will be, what was the nature of the charge and conviction you received.
Insurance Companies look at Felony Convictions Differently
As far as the underwriting process goes, many insurance carriers have very different criteria that are examined and weighed through the process. Each carrier interprets the information they require differently, and many have completely different types of information that is required. Infractions, (whether felony or not) that are most likely to cause problems for a life insurance applicant would be:
- Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol (1st offense is a misdemeanor)
- Crimes involving property
- Drug-related crimes
Because these five crimes make up over half of the current prison population, these are the offenses that pose the greatest concern to life insurance carriers. These crimes, in some cases, are not life-threatening inherently when committed. However, the time that one will spend in prison once convicted could be. Moreover to this point, convictions are much less likely to become a barrier to buying life insurance with a felony when the crime committed is larceny or assault.
Some Good News
The bright side of this story for individuals seeking life insurance coverage that have one or more felony convictions is that not all insurers have the same guidelines. There are some carriers that will offer an individual coverage, however, there are some that will not. That being said, an individual’s first step when seeking insurance coverage should be to contact us and discuss your current situation in order for our licensed insurance professionals to be better able to determine ahead of time which, if any, insurers will be able to offer coverage.
The quality of the insurance professional you utilize is just as important as the insurance carrier you choose to apply to. Submitting a life insurance application with a life insurance carrier that has a track record of denying coverage to individuals with felony records would make no sense. The independent life insurance professional that we connect you with will know exactly who will be your best option when seeking coverage.
The Deal Breakers
Some felony convictions are all but a guarantee that a traditional life insurance company will deny life insurance coverage. These are :
- Child molestation
- Drug Trafficking
- Conspiracy to commit any of the offenses listed above
A conviction for any of the aforementioned charges will result in a declination of coverage from all traditional life insurance carriers. However, individuals in this category will still be permitted to purchase “Guaranteed Issue” life insurance from a carrier and also Accidental Death life insurance as well.
Individuals who may have previously made an attempt to obtain life coverage through a traditional life insurance carrier and were denied may still have remaining options that are not simply limited to “Guaranteed Issue” life coverage.Generally speaking, most life insurance carriers will automatically decline applicants that have prior drug-related felonies. However, there are carriers that will still consider offering coverage depending on how the individual may answer the following questions:
- Have you ever been incarcerated?
- If so, how much time did you spend imprisoned?
- How much time has passed since you were charged and then convicted of the crime?
- How long ago were you released from your last incarceration?
- Are you currently on probation or parole? If so, for what time frame?
- If you were on probation or parole, how long ago was it terminated?
The answers given to these questions will be the best determining factors in allowing an underwriter to assess how eligible an individual is for life insurance coverage. The exact nature of an individual’s charges and convictions are important because some convictions have a higher recidivism rate than others. Generally speaking, underwriters use this information about an individual’s criminal record to determine how likely they are to be reincarcerated for another criminal offense.
Be mindful of the fact that being incarcerated is considered a life-threatening circumstance. The amount of time that has passed between the date of application and the date an individual was convicted and or released from prison is the most important detail here. The reason this detail is so important is that the underwriter assigned to this case will want to see exactly how much a potential insured’s lifestyle has changed since they were released from prison.
Felonies involving Alcohol or Violence
Primarily felonies involving alcohol usually are related to operating a vehicle while intoxicated. However, violence related felonies can be just as likely contributed to the use of alcohol.
In cases of this sort, underwriters are on the lookout for at least a two-year gap between the time of conviction and the time of probation before considering the opportunity to offer life insurance coverage. In the event you have been denied life coverage after two years has passed, you have likely applied for coverage with the incorrect insurance carrier and should give our office a call for help.
Challenges Agents Face when You Reveal Your Felony
Good insurance agents know on initial contact that it will take a considerable amount of work to find life insurance coverage for an individual that has a record containing a prior felony conviction. If you take the typical call center agency approach, most likely you will be denied coverage based on criminal history due to the agent not being motivated to spend additional time and resources on your case because it may result in a declination even after the agent has invested the necessary time to properly scout the potential carriers to obtain life coverage for you.
This, however, should not deter you from contacting an independent insurance agent that has access to multiple life insurance carriers and is willing to put in the time, energy, and effort to see to it that you acquire life insurance with a felony conviction.
A knowledgeable independent insurance agent will know after your first conversation if traditional life insurance is the route that you should take, or if a “Guaranteed Issue” life insurance carrier will be more suited to your needs based on your particular situation. Your agent will have the necessary experience and know how to assist in your life insurance purchasing decision to allow you to make the most informed decision possible.
Independent insurance agents that specialize in hard-to-place and high-risk cases appreciate the challenge that comes along with this type of business and are more than willing to represent you and your best interest to block any hindrances and help you obtain the life insurance coverage you need.