Life Insurance for Inmates

Buying life insurance for inmates is challenging. Inmates can find more affordable life insurance once they get released.

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Written by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent Rachael Brennan

Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has two years' experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. He is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Reviewed by Benji Carr
Former Licensed Life Insurance Agent Benji Carr

UPDATED: May 13, 2022

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Quick Facts

  • Life insurance for inmates can be difficult or even impossible to buy
  • If you have an existing life insurance policy, it will still be valid after you get sent to prison if you continue making payments
  • Life insurance coverage will not apply if you die while committing a crime

Getting life insurance for inmates is challenging. Most insurance companies are not willing to take on the risk of insuring someone in prison. 

When life insurance companies write policies for felons, the most common types are guaranteed issue or Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) policies. This type of life insurance offers minimum benefits for funeral and burial costs and may not apply if you die from a pre-existing condition or illness.

But life insurance for inmates isn’t entirely out of reach. If you need to buy life insurance, shop around and compare multiple high-risk life insurance companies. Felons may have difficulty finding life insurance coverage, but each insurance company will assess your risk level differently. 

Keep reading to learn how a felony impacts life insurance rates, where you can buy life insurance for inmates, and what questions insurers ask felons to assess risk.

Can you get life insurance for someone in prison?

An inmate’s life insurance eligibility depends on several factors, including age, medical history, and lifestyle. Insurance companies likely won’t write policies for high-risk individuals in prison or awaiting trial.

BQ: The best chance for an inmate to obtain life insurance is a guaranteed universal life insurance policy, which may not ask questions about health or criminal background. 

However, guaranteed life insurance coverage is limited, usually only offering up to $25,000 in death benefits. In addition, most companies require you to be over 50 to qualify for these policies, but some will offer coverage to those as young as 45.

The table below shows where you can buy guaranteed issue life insurance:

The Best Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance Companies
Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance SummaryAAAAIGGerber Life InsuranceMutual of OmahaNew York Life
Age Availability45-8550-8550-8045-8550-80
Waiting Period2 years2 years2 years2 years2 years
Payout During Waiting PeriodPremiums paid + 30% interestPremiums paid + 10% interestPremiums paid + 10% interestPremiums paid + 20% interestPremiums paid + 10% interest
Minimum Life Insurance Coverage Limit$5,000$5,000$5,000$2,000$2,500
Maximum Life Insurance Coverage Limit$25,000$25,000$25,000$25,000$15,000
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Mutual of Omaha and AAA offer the largest death benefit during the waiting period, but maximum life insurance coverage doesn’t exceed $25,000. Life insurance rates for inmates may also be more expensive, so compare quotes from these and other local companies before you buy.

If you don’t qualify for guaranteed issue life insurance, you may be able to buy accidental death life insurance (AD&D) from certain companies. AD&D insurance does not require a medical exam but only covers accidental death or loss/loss of use of a limb. For example, if the insured is injured or killed while committing a crime or dies of natural causes, the insurance company would deny death benefits on an AD&D policy.

Like guaranteed issue insurance, AD&D benefits are minimal and only cover funeral and burial costs. However, AD&D life insurance rates are often cheaper, and it’s also easier to qualify for this coverage than other types of life insurance.

Additionally, if you have group life insurance through your employer, you may be able to add an inmate to your policy if they are your spouse or dependent. However, the group policy limits coverage terms. Research your policy thoroughly before buying life insurance for someone in prison.

What happens to life insurance if you go to prison?

If you had a life insurance policy in place before you were incarcerated, death benefits would still apply if you continue to pay your rates. The same applies if you are the life insurance beneficiary of an incarcerated individual — you will still receive a benefit upon the insured’s death. 

However, this may not be the case for those who get life insurance through their employer. If you don’t have the option of converting your group life insurance to an individual policy, you will most likely lose coverage.

Can a death row inmate get life insurance?

A death row inmate most likely can’t buy life insurance. However, if they have an existing life insurance policy, their beneficiaries could still receive their death benefit. This will depend on the specifics of the life insurance policy.

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How to Buy Life Insurance for Inmates

If you are in prison or currently awaiting trial, you may not be able to apply for life insurance coverage at all. If you cannot get life insurance in prison, you will have more options after your release. However, with a felony record, you will have to wait sometime after your release to buy a new policy. 

On average, inmates wait a year after their probationary period to apply for life insurance.

Depending on your criminal record, you may be able to get life insurance coverage soon after your release from prison. For example, non-violent felonies carry lower risk and are less likely to impact your eligibility for life insurance than a violent crime.

How does a felony impact life insurance?

Life insurance for felons can be easier to qualify for than life insurance for inmates. Though some companies will deny you coverage, high-risk life insurers will provide guaranteed issue or term life insurance to those with criminal records. Unfortunately, your insurance rates will be higher due to the risk associated with your felony.

If you’re in prison, life insurance companies look at three things when assessing your risk level:

  • The time between incarceration and the life insurance application
  • The severity of the crime committed
  • The number of times you’ve been incarcerated

While insurance companies may not deny you outright for a felony, certain factors can disqualify a person from life insurance. For example, a history of alcoholism, attempted suicide, or drug abuse — alongside criminal behavior — will make you too risky to insure. 

Consider these common questions life insurance agents ask felons to give you an idea of how your criminal charges can influence the insurance-buying process:

  • How long were you incarcerated?
  • How much time has passed since the crime?
  • Did you serve probation?
  • What steps have you taken toward rehabilitation?
  • Had you committed crimes before the felony in question?

Your answers to these questions will determine your eligibility for coverage and insurance rates. Each company will consider these factors differently, so it’s important to shop with multiple insurers before buying a policy.

You can reduce your risk and rates by finding steady employment and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and hobbies. When writing your policy, many life insurance companies consider your recreational activities, social activities, medical history, and criminal record. Any steps you take toward rehabilitation can reduce your life insurance rates considerably.

Life Insurance for Inmates: What You Need to Know

Getting life insurance for someone in prison will be challenging. You will be limited to shopping with companies that offer guaranteed issue or accidental death and dismemberment insurance. These life insurance policies typically do not ask about medical or criminal history but limit death benefits to $25,000 or less. 

The best life insurance companies for inmates are Mutual of Omaha and AAA, as they provide a larger payout on guaranteed issue life insurance. However, your life insurance rates will likely be more expensive. 

If you want to find affordable life insurance for inmates, wait until the sentence is complete before buying a policy. 

Life insurance coverage is easier to find when out of prison, but companies still expect inmates to wait at least a year before applying for coverage. Life insurance rates decrease, and more policy options become available as time passes.

If you’re ready to buy life insurance, shop for multiple life insurance quotes before choosing a policy to compare companies and find one that offers the most affordable life insurance for inmates.

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