The impact of a felony conviction and prison sentence reach far beyond the individual behind bars. Many incarcerated people have families who were dependent on their income and struggle to survive while they are gone.
One option for financial protection that often goes overlooked is life insurance. Is it possible to get life insurance for felons in the first place? What if they had a policy before they were incarcerated? Do they get to keep it?
Can you get life insurance while in prison?
Chances are no.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. state and federal correctional facilities held an estimated 1,204,300 at yearend 2021.
If these people did not get life insurance before being incarcerated, they’re not likely to get it while serving their sentence.
Life insurance companies evaluate the risks of individuals who apply and the risk of insuring someone in prison is much too high to take on.
Janet Gillespie, a spokeswoman for Prudential, states:
We do not offer life insurance coverage to any incarcerated individual… our underwriter feels this is industrywide.
Besides, most life insurance companies require a medical exam, and a paramedical examiner is not going to go into a prison to take the necessary samples.
What if you had life insurance before prison?
What if these individuals had life insurance before being incarcerated? Would the policy remain inforce even while behind bars?
Those who have life insurance and upon entering prison can keep it as long as their premiums are paid.
Whether a family member is paying them or they are auto-drafted from the policy owner’s bank account, the policy will remain inforce. Generally, there is no clause written into the policy that terminates it because of incarceration.
» Calculate: Life insurance needs calculator
Can someone on probation or parole get life insurance?
Most carriers hesitate to insure someone on probation or parole because their statistical likelihood of returning to jail is higher than average. However, it is still possible for some of these individuals to get coverage, but not all.
According to an ongoing study about recidivism from the DOJ, roughly two-thirds of released prisoners end up being rearrested within three years of release. The longer you have been off probation or parole, the better your chances for getting approved for life insurance and affordable premiums.
Carriers review several other factors to determine your eligibility, including:
- Severity of the crime
- Misdemeanor vs felony conviction
- How long ago it happened
- Multiple offense patterns
- History of drug or alcohol abuse
- History of violent behavior
» Compare: Term life insurance quotes
Overall, to get life insurance with a criminal history, you’ll need some positive things going for you.
Favorable factors include:
- You’re married
- You’re employed
- It was a single criminal offense
- You have completed your sentence, including probation or parole
- No drug or alcohol issues
- Favorable driving record
- You disclosed the criminal history on your application to get life insurance
Learn more about the process life insurance companies use to evaluate an applicant’s risk called underwriting.
See what you’d pay for life insurance
Having a criminal record can impact your eligibility for life insurance, but it’s not an automatic disqualifier.
No matter what happened in your past, it’s best to be honest on your application. If a carrier finds out you lied, the consequences can be severe. And anyway, background checks are a standard part of the application process, so carriers have the facts.
Don’t be afraid to apply for life insurance. It’s free, there’s no penalty for denial, and you can always try again later.
If your loved ones depend on you for financial support, Buying life insurance ensures they’ll be well-taken care of no matter what. Use our life insurance calculator to understand your needs and explore your options.