Felons coming out of prison ask themselves how they’ll ever find a job. While there are many employers who will hire felons, many positions remain unavailable to them.
This blog post will address the question of whether or not a felon can get a license to sell insurance.
- What Is an Insurance Agent?
- What Is an Insurance License?
- What Is Required to Get an Insurance License?
- An Opportunity for Felons?
- Recommended Action
What Is an Insurance Agent?
An insurance agent sells policies to individuals to meet their particular insurance needs. An agent evaluates:
- A client’s needs
- Explores options
- Matches policies to each client
- Ensures a policy remains current
An insurance agent typically works for an insurance agency and sells insurance products offered by that agency. Some insurance agents work independently and can offer a wider variety of insurance products and services.
What Is an Insurance License?
A license is issued by a state agency to practice a profession and is required in order to call oneself a licensed professional. A license shows that someone has specific knowledge or skill set necessary to do a job. Typically, these types of credentials are obtained after completing certain education.
Licenses are legally required by the government to work in an occupation. A license is:
- Awarded by a government licensing agency
- Gives some legal authority to work in an occupation
- Requires meeting certain criteria such as having a degree or passing a state-administered exam
An insurance license allows a person to offer and sell various insurance products. The state insurance commission in each state is responsible for specific criteria. There are certain types of insurance policies that are covered by an insurance license, including:
- Accident and health
- Property (Homeowner and Renter)
There are plenty of companies that offer life insurance, but an agent is typically the intermediary between the one seeking the insurance and the company offering it.
What Is Required to Get an Insurance License?
In order to get an insurance license, an applicant must first complete a number of steps:
- At least 18 years old
- U.S. citizen
- High school diploma or GED
- Reside in the state to work as an agent
Next, a person must complete a life insurance pre-licensing education, which varies from state to state. He or she will have to undergo a background check and typically fingerprinting.
While the number of classroom hours vary, typically 20-50 depending on the state, completion of an accredited school insurance program is necessary.
Applicants must pass the state licensing exam that covers state insurance laws and those specific to a type of insurance. Some types of life insurances may require a Series 6 or 7 securities registration which agents may need for selling policies with an investment component.
An Opportunity for Felons?
The specific requirements vary between states, but essentially, each state wants to know if an applicant is of good character. This involves disclosing any actions that might be considered unprofessional or illegal. Of most importance in the insurance field are:
Permanently barred are those with a conviction of a felony involving:
- Money laundering
These types of crimes are included because they show blatant disregard for a person’s life and financial circumstance.
There is a 15-year ban for all other felonies involving moral turpitude and a seven-year ban on all other felonies. Moral turpitude is a term that refers to a lack of community justice, honesty, and good morals.
After the disqualification period, the burden is on the applicant to demonstrate they have been rehabilitated, not a risk to the insurance-buying public, and trustworthy to engage in the insurance business.
Even after the time limit has expired, felons convicted of an offense involving dishonesty or breach of trust (meaning from a financial relationship) remain prohibited by federal statute 18 USC 1033 and are denied licensure unless they obtain a 1033 waiver following an offer of employment.
Typically, a state insurance commission will conduct a waiver review to determine an applicant’s suitability for licensure. The waiver review usually consists of:
- Documents relating to the felony
- Nature and severity of the felony
- Period of time since the felony
- Number of felonies or other similar incidents
- Circumstances surrounding the crime
An applicant’s positive activities since the completion of the sentence are essential, including:
- Participation in treatment
- Payment of restitution
- Other efforts at rehabilitation
It is essential to be honest in filling out an application for licensing to sell insurance. If a felony isn’t disclosed but found on a background check, this is fraud which is a punishable crime, and could result in being sent back to prison.
In order to be successful in obtaining an insurance license, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background. They are already working with negative perceptions of being:
- Unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures
Having their felony expunged can give them the chance needed to begin with a clean record and succeed in getting an insurance license. Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that he or she has not been convicted of a crime.
It could be worth the effort to go through the steps in obtaining an insurance license. Giving him or herself the best chance for success by having his or her record expunged and also documenting any programs, education, or training completed could have a critical impact.
Having support from family, friends, counselors, or previous employers can make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. He or she can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.
What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to get an insurance license with a felony? What was that like for him or her, and how did he or she achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.