There are plenty of reasons to want to avoid a criminal conviction. Even when jail time is avoided, a conviction for a crime in New York or New Jersey can result in a criminal record. This record will show up in background checks, such as the kind often conducted by employers and landlords. As such, having a criminal record can have a long-term, negative impact on one’s life.
One of the most unexpected impacts a criminal record can have is its effect on one’s insurance—specifically life insurance, homeowner’s insurance and even auto insurance.
Why a Criminal Record Affects Life Insurance
Insurance carriers base their premiums on the risk associated with each covered individual. Someone with a criminal record may be seen as having made poor life choices. The exact impact will depend on the severity of the crime and whether the individual has multiple convictions or just one. It’s important to note that a person who ends up in prison and continues to pay his/her premiums will likely still have coverage.
Those with a criminal background applying for the first time can still be approved for coverage, but it could take time to search around to find a life insurance carrier willing to approve the application. However, it is not possible to get life insurance while in prison or on probation. Underwriters industry-wide see candidates like this as too high risk to take on.
How Does a Criminal Record Affect Homeowner’s Insurance?
Like life insurance, homeowner’s insurance operates using risk models. Curiously, the risks associated with a criminal conviction may as much to do with the crime itself as it does with the risk of reoffending and the potential for revenge attacks from wronged parties. Regardless, it means potentially exorbitant rates or being denied coverage entirely.
New York law limits insurers’ ability to drop coverage for homes. However, they can cancel a policy if the policyholder has been convicted of a crime that increases the risk of a hazard that is covered in the policy (e.g. robbery or arson). This exception is not available in New Jersey, which means that technically a person should not find their homeowner’s insurance canceled following a criminal conviction or incarceration, assuming the premiums continue to be paid.
Can My Criminal Record Affect My Auto Insurance?
Believe it or not, even if a person’s criminal conviction has nothing to do with driving, it can still influence auto insurance premiums. The fact that most auto insurance applications ask if a person has been convicted of a crime demonstrates that it matters.
Of course, driving-related convictions will have the greatest impact. Crimes like drunk driving and hit-and-runs can cause premiums to double or result in being dropped altogether. Even misdemeanors like reckless driving can drive up rates by 76%.
Will My Arrest Affect My Insurance If I Wasn’t Convicted?
Criminal charges and arrest records can still show up in background checks, and thus can potentially influence life, homeowner’s and auto insurance. However, the lack of a conviction reduces the possible impact. The good news is that most insurers do not ask applicants if they have been charged with a crime, only whether or not they have been convicted.
Should I Lie About My Criminal Record on My Insurance Application?
No! Even though insurers ask applicants to be up front about their record, it is likely they will check it at some point. Those who lie and are found out later can end having their application denied or the policy voided.
How Can I Mitigate the Effect of My Criminal Conviction on My Insurance?
The older a criminal conviction, the less of an impact it can have on one’s rates, especially if the person does not reoffend. However, the best chance to mitigate the impact is to have one’s criminal record expunged (in New Jersey) or sealed (in New York).
To do this, a person may need the help of a criminal defense attorney with experience filing expungements. It’s worth noting that arrest records and other charges that did not result in a conviction can also be expunged.
If you or a loved one are worried about a pending criminal charge or are interested in having a criminal record expunged, reach out to an attorney right away. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are skilled criminal defense attorneys with experience helping people in similar situations. Email the Rosenblum Law Firm or call 888-815-3649 today for a free consultation about your case.