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Posted by Kara Franklin ● March 23, 2022

Can I Become an Insurance Agent if I Have a Misdemeanor or Felony?

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If you are considering a lucrative career as an insurance agent, but have a criminal background, there are a few things to know before preparing for your state licensing exam. 

Can I get an insurance license with a criminal conviction?

Yes, you can qualify for an insurance license if you have a misdemeanor or felony conviction; however, it depends on the hiring company and licensing state. Further, most states have regulations that specifically disqualify persons with convictions involving crimes of moral turpitude, such as fraud, dishonesty, or breach of trust, from licensure. This is namely because insurance agents are held in a fiduciary responsibility with clients and insurance companies. As a fiduciary, insurance agents handle customers' money, and insurance companies require that agents be trustworthy and competent to handle such monies.

Do I need to disclose my criminal history on the insurance license application?

Yes. The application for a license will include questions regarding the disclosure of criminal history. Applicants must disclose any previous convictions, including any convictions in an applicant’s adult life that are believed to have been expunged, deferred, or are currently pending. Disclosing past criminal convictions or administrative actions does not necessarily result in the denial of an application. Most states require criminal background checks and may request a full set of fingerprints before an insurance license is issued.

Some states make exceptions for convictions regarding traffic citations, DUI, DWI, driving without a license, reckless driving, or driving with a suspended or revoked license. Applicants often fail to report convictions based on the false belief that, after a certain amount of years, it does not have to be reported. This is false. Convictions must be reported regardless of the age, unless the application specifically states that it is excluded.

What questions will be on the application?

The criminal background questions on the application vary state to state. Most states will ask the same uniform questions that will cover criminal and felony convictions, administrative action, and child support information. 

States have the right to add non-uniform questions to the application. For example, California approved a new non-uniform background question that requires the disclosure of criminal convictions involving the abuse or oppression of elders and dependents. This question will appear on all individual and business entity license applications and renewals, and a conviction of this kind will be considered grounds for application denial and license nonrenewal in California. 

What if I do not disclose my criminal background on my insurance license application?

Information on a license application must be truthful and accurate. If information presented in a background check does not match the application, the license will be denied and action may be taken against an individual who submits a false or incomplete application.

What is the impact of the Ban the Box Movement in the insurance industry?

Several states have implemented the Ban the Box movement, which removes questions regarding criminal history from the initial application. Ban the Box reduces discrimination by requiring companies to consider the qualifications of an applicant before requesting disclosure of previous convictions. This, however, does not eliminate the background check and fingerprinting requirements in the insurance industry.

The Bottom Line

People who have prior convictions can get hired, but individual insurance companies will make the final decision. Once you know whether to move forward with an insurance career, you can learn how to become an insurance agent.

If you have any questions, it is best to contact the insurance company you plan to work for.

Topics: Personal Lines, Prelicensing, Property & Casualty, Securities, Health Insurance, Insurance, Life Insurance, Adjusters, Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, States, Washington, Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Kansas, Life & Health, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon

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