Getting Life Insurance after Jail or Prison

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Getting life insurance after jail or prison can be very difficult.

For many Gen Xers (people in their mid to late 30’s, 40’s, and early 50’s) who have lived a considerable number of years on this planet, there may be a blemish on their otherwise pristine criminal record. We are all human after all. And then there’s the repeat felons who never learn from their past and repeat the same mistakes over….and over….and over again.

This article will discuss the primary differences between jail and prison, how a criminal record can effect life insurance, and how to get life insurance after a stint in jail or prison.

If you have been in jail or prison, don’t bother getting life insurance quotes from the life insurance quoter on my website—most of those companies will deny you. Instead, call me at (615) 525-6165, email me at robert@weigelinsurance, or contact me here , and we will find the right company for your life insurance needs.

What’s the difference between Jail and Prison?

If you have violated the criminal law of the United States, and you have been found guilty, you will be sent to jail or prison. For any attorneys reading this, this is clearly an oversimplification, but for the purposes of this article, it will d0.

But, what is the difference between the two—between jail and prison?

According to this source, “At the most basic level, the fundamental difference between jail and prison is the length of stay for inmates. Think short-term and long-term.”

Jails are short-term, run by local law enforcement, and hold inmates who have committed misdemeanors (not felonies) primarily. The maximum length of stay for an inmate in jail is typically up to one year.

Prisons, on the other hand, are long-term. Prisons are operated by the state government or the federal government. Prisons incarcerate inmates who have committed felonies, and who will be serving more than one year of time in the prison facility.

So, how do you get life insurance after serving a stint in jail or prison?

First off, if you are currently in jail or prison, and you are wanting to get a life insurance policy, forget about it. I don’t know any life insurance company that will issue a life insurance policy for someone currently in jail or prison.

However, if you have been out of jail or prison for awhile, here’s how life insurance companies will evaluate your life insurance application:

  • WERE YOU IN JAIL OR PRISON?—There’s a clear bias from life insurance companies here. Life insurance companies look at prison much more seriously than jail. If you have been out of prison for awhile, the chances of you getting a traditionally-underwritten life insurance policy is slim to none. On the other hand, getting life insurance after you have been out of jail for awhile is doable. However, you need to be prepared that your rate for life insurance after a jail stint (no matter the jail stint) is going to be higher than your peers who have never been to jail.
  • WHAT WERE YOU IN JAIL FOR?—If you were in jail for a DUI on your 21st birthday (like the hordes of people who apply for life insurance with this life insurance agent and many others) which was many years ago, life insurance companies will factor this in, but your chances of getting life insurance are solid, all other considerations being the same. If you went to jail for misdemeanor theft or misdemeanor assault, on the other hand, your chances of getting a traditionally-underwritten life insurance policy decrease astronomically. In all instances, if you have been in jail and the life insurance company issues your policy, your life insurance rate will be higher because the risk to the insurance company is greater.
  • HOW LONG WERE YOU IN JAIL?—Were you in jail just overnight because of a DUI arrest or were you in jail for 11 months and 29 days because of misdemeanor domestic abuse. Life Insurance underwriters will definitely look into your jail duration when considering your life insurance application. The less time you were in jail, the greater the likelihood of your policy being accepted and issued.
  • HOW LONG AGO WERE YOU IN JAIL?—There’s a big difference between a Gen Xer who is now 50 and who went to jail in their early 20’s, and a Gen Xer who is now 38 and went to jail at 31. The longer the period of time that has elapsed between your stint in jail, the greater the likelihood that the life insurance company will accept you as a life insurance client.
  • MULIPLE JAIL STINTS—If you have been in jail multiple times for different offenses, I don’t know of a single life insurance company on my roster that will issue a life insurance policy for you. It’s possible you may be eligible for a guaranteed issue policy, but I would have to check with the carriers on a case-by-case basis.
  • REHABILITATION—The X-Factor. Are you a changed person now from the person you were when you were in jail? If yes, great! This is where the expertise of a skilled life insurance agent can come into play who can make an argument for your insurability to the life insurance underwriter deciding your case. Never discount the game-changing-ability of a carefully-crafted letter arguing on your behalf to the life insurance powers to be.

All in all, getting life insurance while in jail or prison is not possible—getting life insurance after prison is incredibly difficult—and getting life insurance after jail is doable, but you just have to be prepared for a higher rate and a thorough analysis of your insurability from the life insurance company.

I hope this has been a helpful, overview article on life insurance after prison and jail.

If you have been in prison or jail and need life insurance for your family, email me at, message me through, or contact me here.


Until next time and until next life insurance article,


Robert Weigel

Life Insurance Agent for Generation X