Life insurance for people with previous convictions

Societies who classify themselves as "developed" like to tell themselves they have high moral standards. They are better than the other countries not just because of the quality of the physical environment, but also because they are caring societies offering routes for all their citizens to get to the top. This is usually expressed through open access to high quality education, good healthcare to keep them alive, and so on. But what about those who break the society's laws? Again many point to their policies of rehabilitation. Once people have paid their price, they are readmitted to society and doors remain open. Except this is not always true.

Life insurance companies look at broad statistical patterns to assess risk. This ignores what happens to one or two people. You can't generalize from a small sample. You need a sample of tens of thousands to be able to make reliable predictions as applied to the whole population. The statistics show two rather uncomfortable truths. The first is the high rate of recidivism, i.e. once convicted there's a high risk of reoffending. The second is that felons are likely to die earlier than non-felons. This particularly applies to those initially convicted of crimes involving the use of violence.

There's no federal or state law which limits the right of felons to buy life insurance but, turning this around, felons are not among the protected classes either. Many states have laws preventing insurers from discriminating against people on the ground of their race, sexual orientation, and so on. Felons, once freed back into the world, are not thought to need additional help and protection. There's just one problem with this. The statistical evidence is available to all the insurers and so their reactions to those convicted of offenses tend to be the same.

Types of offense

As a general rule, those convicted of minor traffic offenses or offenses against property are likely to be allowed to buy. But once there's a felony conviction on your record, life is difficult. Any offenders who have used violence will be refused. Other felons are also likely to be refused if there's also an alcohol or drug problem associated.


Rehabilitation is often taken to be evidenced by the time passing since the conviction or release from prison. The precise way this works varies among the life insurance companies. All have a chart linking the type of offense to the period of time subsequently crime free. As a general rule, the longer the time that passes without reoffending, the better the chance of finding life insurance. The more serious the felony, the longer the time that must pass, although some companies give credit for going through anger-management courses and other forms of treatment that are likely to reduce the risk of reoffending.