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Image of Lego police squad stopping criminals for Quotacy blog How Does a Criminal Record Affect Buying Life Insurance?

How Misdemeanors and Felonies Impact Life Insurance

March 30, 2023
Our goal is to educate and advise on life insurance options, so you can feel confident in making the right choice, whether that’s through Quotacy or somewhere else. To ensure we provide accurate and trustworthy information, our writers follow strict editorial standards.

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

Comparison shop prices on custom coverage amounts from the nation’s top carriers with Quotacy.

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.

Watch the Criminal Records and Life Insurance Video


  1. Ace

    If one has been arrested and charges have not been filed after one year would the insurance company still decline coverage?

    • Natasha Cornelius

      Ace, if a person was never charged and their record is still clean, they may still be able to qualify for life insurance. Be sure to be 100% honest when filing out a life insurance application.

  2. Tammy

    Hello what about people who have to register for sex offenses or violent offense and completed parole or probation? Can they apply for life insurance?

    • Natasha Cornelius

      Hi Tammy, anyone can apply for life insurance. Whether or not they are approved is a different story. Once someone has completed parole, they have a chance at getting coverage. Insurance companies vary on how many years post-parole they prefer, but, for the most part, if at least one year has passed since parole completion, life insurance coverage is possible.

  3. Thao Nguyen

    Hi there
    I had a misdemeanor class B 13 years ago then did the deferred adjudication 5 years ago. Now I’m going to buy a life insurance for myself. My question is should I disclosed that with them ?
    Thank you

    • Natasha Cornelius

      Hello! Thanks for your question. Deferred adjudications will still normally show up on your criminal background check. We recommend you disclose it and provide background details to explain to the insurance company what the situation is. It’s better to be upfront versus the insurance company finding out on their own. Since the offense occurred over 10 years ago and you satisfied all court requirements 5 years ago, affordable life insurance rates should still be an option for you. After you apply online, a Quotacy agent will review your application and make sure to match you with the insurance company that will offer you the best possible rate.

  4. David

    hello I am 33 I have one non violent felony for drug possession in 2008. I am eligible for expungement in 6 months. That process can take six months to complete. Is it worth it to wait then apply for life insurance or do so now. I’m considering the policy prices in regards to waiting later or applying now

    • Natasha Cornelius

      David, we haven’t had a case in which an applicant has an expunged felony. Our guess is that it’s possible life insurance carriers would offer a better rate if you waited, but we can’t be 100% sure on this.

      Since the felony occurred over 10 years ago, if you applied now, best case scenario would be an offer of Standard. Take a look at this article for a better understanding of what a Standard risk class means: Life Insurance Risk Classes: Will I Be Rated Preferred or Standard?

      Thanks for your question. Apologies that we don’t have a concrete answer for you. There are many factors the life insurance carriers will look at and some carriers treat certain factors, like criminal history, differently. Until we have all the information and can shop your case to the carriers we work with, we can only make educated guesses.

  5. Ron

    Hello can you help me find an insurance company that doesn’t ask about felony convictions. Also I am currently on probation. Thanks

    • Natasha Cornelius

      Ron, your best chances at getting life insurance coverage is to apply once you complete probation. For a felony, most life insurance companies won’t approve coverage until after at least five years have passed.


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