Applying for Life Insurance With a Criminal Record

A few years ago, I met with a client in what was at the time my office located in Burlington, Ontario to discuss his life insurance needs. We completed a full needs analysis, reviewed various life insurance terms and products including term, whole life and universal life insurance. We concluded that based on his needs and budget he would apply for a 10 year term product to protect himself and his young family. He was a smoker, hoping to quit smoking soon and wanted to do a shorter term for time being and re-apply at non-smoker rates in the future.

He was otherwise healthy, under 40 and with no other medical concerns. Based on my preliminary assessment I did not believe he would have any issue being qualified for life insurance or critical illness insurance something we had also discussed as a compliment to the life coverage.

We began the standard life insurance application with one of the carriers we had decided on, only to realize that several years ago when he was much younger he was involved in the wrong crowd and ended up being charged with a criminal offence. Due to this criminal record, this automatically disqualified him from the life insurance provider at the time.

Generally speaking, life insurance companies will automatically decline anyone on probation, in jail or awaiting trial. Unfortunately they deem the risk too high and automatically decline coverage under these circumstances. Life insurance providers insure based on risk assessment and actuarial data gathered, which regrettably concludes that those with criminal records tend not to live as long as those without.

That being said, a life insurance applicant who like my client was several years removed from the time he was charged and no longer on probation would have several options available. While many insurance companies may charge a flat fee per every $1000 of coverage (life insurance rating), depending on how long ago the offence occured it is possible that there would be no impact at all as it relates to being qualified.

Life insurance applications vary in the wording as it relates to criminal offences. They can ask for history from as little as 12 months ago to 5 or 10 years or an indefinite period. Furthermore, providers may have “simplified issue” policies which may not require any answers related to criminal history. Simplified issue life insurance is a faster issue product with less questions than a regular fully underwritten application. There can be added costs for simplified issue, although this is not always the case.

Below is wording taken from various life insurance companies in Canada within their applications as it relates to criminal offences:

BMO Insurance:

– Have you ever been charged or convicted of any criminal offense (If Yes, provide details.)

Canada Life Insurance:

a) Within the past 10 years, have you been convicted of, or charged with, any criminal offences in Canada or elsewhere?
b) Do you have any criminal charges pending? If yes (to either) provide details, dates, and nature of offence(s), prohabtion end-date(s) and jail sentence (include exact dates)

Canada Protection Plan (CPP):

– Within the past 12 months, have you been convicted of, awaiting sentencing for, incarcerated for, or on probation for a crminal offence; or do you currently have any criminal charges pending?

Desjardins Insurance:

-Within the past 5 years, been convicted or accused of infractions or criminal offences, including driving with a blood alcohol content above the legal limit or is awaiting trial for such a criminal offence or infraction?

Empire Life:

– Have you ever had, or been told that you had: been charged with a criminal offense?
– Other than previously mentioned, have you ever been charged with any criminal offense, or are there any charges pending?

Foresters Financial:

– Have you ever been charged with or convicted of a criminal offence, or is a criminal charge pending?

Industrial Alliance:

– In the last ten (10) years, have you been incarcerated, charged or convicted for any criminal offence? For criminal record: Nature of the criminal act, date, type of conviction, probation (start and end date), etc.


– In the last 10 years, have you been convicted of any criminal offence or fraudulent financial charges, or do you have any charges pending? If “yes”, provide reasons(s), date(s) and type(s) of offence(s)

Manulife Insurance:

Have you ever been charged with any criminal offence? If yes, provide details, including the nature of each offence, the date charged, the sentence and the date the sentence and any probation was completed.

RBC Insurance:

Has the proposed insurerd been found guilty of a criminal offence within the last 10 years or are there any criminal charges pending? If yes, please explain fully.

SSQ Insurance:

Have you ever been charged with or convicted of a criminal offence? If yes, provide the date, the circumstances, the charge(s) and the sentence (beginning date and date of probation, as the case may be).

Sun Life Insurance:

In the last 10 years, have you been charged with, convicted of or imprisoned for any criminal offence; or are you currently on probation, parole or statutory release?

Working with a life insurance specialist can help you find the best solution to fit your particular situation.

We would be happy to provide further analysis for your family’s specific circumstances. Contact Protect Your Wealth today to learn more! We proudly service clients in Ancaster, Burlington, Dundas, Hamilton, Oakville, Waterdown and the surrounding areas.