Some prisons are dangerous. This isn’t meant to sound scary. But, if you are preparing to go to prison, it’s important that you understand the reality of what’s in store for you. You’ll want to take steps to prepare — medically, financially, emotionally and in many other ways.
And, as bad as it sounds, you may also want to think about what’ll happen if you don’t make it home. This leads many to a simple question: Can you have life insurance while you’re in prison? The answer is yes. But there’s no guarantee you’ll actually be able to find life insurance to buy.
Can you buy life insurance before going to or for someone in prison?
Yes. There are generally no rules or laws stopping you from buying some form of life insurance before going to or while you are in prison. But it’s not as simple as going to an insurance company’s website and paying the bill.
This is because most of the well-known insurance companies won’t be willing to provide coverage to someone they deem a “high risk.” It is also because some state laws restrict the kind of insurance that companies can sell to incarcerated individuals.
If you are going to jail or prison, most life insurance companies will only offer policies to cover burial and other end-of-life expenses. These policies can come with other limitations as well.
For example, many companies may only offer these limited policies to people 50 years old or older. And they may also only provide coverage of up to $25,000. While this amount may be enough to cover burial costs and a funeral, there likely won’t be much left over.
Even if you’re allowed to buy life insurance, will you actually be able to find it?
Maybe. According to Expert Insurance Reviews, the annual cost for this insurance can range from nearly $300 for a 50-year-old woman who wants $10,000 in coverage to more than $2,000 for a 70-year-old man who wants $25,000 in coverage.
But it’s hard to find insurance companies that will issue these policies. As Fox Business reported back in 2016, “prison barbed wire is one line that life insurers rarely cross.”
Fox Business spoke to Janet Gillespie, a spokeswoman for Prudential Individual Life Insurance, who said they don’t offer coverage to incarcerated people. “We do not offer life insurance coverage to any incarcerated individual,” she said. “Our underwriter feels this is industrywide.”
Jack Dewald, President of Agency Services Inc., said the same. “I don’t know of a single insurance company that would issue a policy to someone in prison, even those in a ‘country club’ or less restrictive prison,” he told Fox Business. “That’s just not the kind of risk that the industry would take.”
Are prisons really so dangerous that you’ll need life insurance?
In the U.S., thousands of people die in prisons every year. Some of these deaths are from natural causes, many are from things like COVID-19 and cancer and some are from suicide, homicide and other violence and harassment. And, according to Prison Policy Initiative, prisons are becoming more deadly than ever before.
But it’s important to think about these statistics in context. As of 2018, 344 out of every 100,000 prisoners died in BOP custody. That doesn’t make it any easier if you or your loved one is in the group of 344. But it does show how rare in-prison deaths are.
If you’re going to prison, you might hear about how dangerous some prisons can be. In most cases, you can get life insurance for your time in prison. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to find an insurance company that’s willing to provide coverage. Thankfully, less than one percent of the people in U.S. prisons die in custody every year.