Can a Felon Get a License to Sell Insurance?

So you want to get a license to sell insurance? Take a look in the mirror—a tall mirror—so that you can see all of yourself. Do you look like someone trustworthy?

Would you buy insurance from you? Is there anything more you can do to improve your appearance?

Listen to your phone voice. Record yourself talking on the phone and play it back. Do you come across as someone others can believe in? Is there a way to improve how you sound on the phone?

Would you expect someone to hand over their hard earned money to you in order to invest in a security? ‘Yes!’ you say.

But there’s one problem and it’s called a felony conviction. So, it’s going to be particularly challenging because of your criminal record. But, there is a pathway for success. It will take a great deal of work and rehabilitation on your part.

This blog post will cover whether felons can get a license to sell insurance.

  • What Is Insurance?
  • Do You Qualify?
  • In The Case of Florida
  • Seeking Legal Remedy

What Is Insurance?

Insurance means a company agrees to undertake an arrangement to compensate a person or entity for a loss. The party that receives compensation is called the ‘insured.’ The company that issues coverage is called the ‘insurer.’

Selling insurance requires a lot of stamina and perseverance. You will be told “no” again and again and again. You will also not make much money at first. But, if you persist and build up your clientele it will bring big rewards.

A license is a formal permission from a government or authorizing body to operate a business or function in a profession.  You will need a license to sell insurance.

Do You Qualify?

If you are a felon can you get a license to sell insurance? Federal law 18 U.S.C. § 1033 prohibits individuals who have been convicted of a felony crime involving dishonesty or breach of trust from working in the insurance industry unless they obtain written consent from their state insurance commissioner. 

It is up to each state to determine which felonies constitute dishonesty or a breach of trust. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners offer guidelines to the states to determine which crimes fall under dishonesty or breach of trust.

So, what is dishonesty? The FDIC Statement of Policy defines “dishonest” “as to cheat or defraud for money; to take property where any criminal statute is violated. Dishonesty could be crimes in which federal, state or local laws define as dishonest.

What is breach of trust?The FDIC Statement of Policy defines “breach of trust” the misuse of one’s official position to commit a wrongful act, use, misappropriation or omission.

Some examples of these crimes are:

  • Larceny after trust
  • Perjury
  • Possession of a forged instrument or stolen property
  • Theft by deception
  • Witness/evidence tampering
  • Crimes of financial exploitation

What about murder and rape and crimes against children? These are serious crimes which might not trigger the federal law. These types of felony convictions do not necessarily fall under dishonesty or breach of trust. However, the states have the authority to apply the federal law to violent crimes and crimes against children.

In The Case of Florida

As mentioned before, the interpretation and application of the federal law varies from state to state. So, let’s just look at one state, Florida. A felon can apply to the state to get a written consent after a disqualification period.

There are certain crimes where you get banned permanently from getting a license. You are permanently barred if you committed a capital felony, a felony directly related to financial services businesses, or any first degree felony. Other permanent bar crimes are embezzlement, making false statements(financial services transactions), and the sale of unregistered securities.

Moral turpitude felony crimes carry a 15 year disqualification period. Turpitude refers to an act or practice that is depraved or corrupt. Moral turpitude has to do with crimes which are vile or are a shock to social norms. Crimes of moral turpitude in Florida include elderly abuse, carrying a concealed weapon, and making a false statement(non-financial services transactions).

There is a 7 year disqualification period for non-moral turpitude felony crimes. Some of these crimes are battery on law enforcement (not involving intentional bodily injury), resisting arrest without violence, and trespassing.

Understand that the  felony crimes lists can change. Crimes can be re-classified and the lists can be expanded. You would need to contact the Florida Department of Financial Services(Department) to see if your crime is on their lists.

Circumstances surrounding your conviction can affect the disqualification period. But, it will never be less than 7 years. The disqualification period starts after you have completed your sentence and/or you are no longer under supervision.

During this time there are a number of milestones you need to have met before you can seek written consent. For example, you must pay all of your fines, restitution, and court costs. You must also demonstrate that you have been rehabilitated and you pose no risk to the insurance-buying public. This is a good time to complete a re-entry program. It must be clearly evident that you can be trusted to work in the insurance business and that you are qualified for licensure.

Florida Law Versus Federal Law

A felon  can file to work in insurance on the federal level but that does not mean automatic  consent by the state. The state could have a different set of crimes than the federal law and the disqualification periods might not be the same.

After you get a written consent from the Insurance Commissioner you may be relieved of prohibited person status under the federal law. However, you are not automatically able to get a license with the state until you comply with all the state laws and regulations.

The license you get from the Department does not mean consent under the federal law. Violation of federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 1033, can bring about imprisonment for up to five years and a $5,000 fine. But, the federal law does allow you to get written consent from the Insurance Commissioner. Remember, the state license you get does not mean consent under the federal law.

Are you confused yet? Just be sure to always report your situation and your history truthfully. If the government finds out later that you were convicted of a felony you will lose out on getting a license.

Seeking Legal Remedy

A viable option for you might be to get your record expunged. This means that your record is wiped clean as if you never committed the crime. You will be able to legally claim that you do not have a felony record. The exact process depends on the state where you live.

Expunged means your records are destroyed. You may be able to get your record sealed. However, if you were to commit another crime or be in suspicion of a crime, you record could be unsealed. A criminal defense attorney may be required for this action and you need to be honest about your situation.

You will need to demonstrate initiative—that you are actively attempting to get back into society. This can be done by going to counseling, advancing in your education, and being gainfully employed.

Completing some type of re-entry program is extremely helpful toward self improvement. It is also a way of demonstrating to the court that you are rehabilitated.

Felons who have committed multiple felonies or rape can not get their records expunged. But, once you get your record expunged or sealed you can legally apply for any job, complete a school admissions form, and sign a rental agreement while legally claiming that you don’t have a felony record.

Under 18 U.S.C. § 1033, it doesn’t matter how long ago it was when you committed the felony, you can still find yourself unable to get a license to sell insurance. So, in the end, getting your criminal record expunged might be your best way forward to working in the insurance business.

Seeking Remedy Through The Florida Court System

In Florida you can have your record expunged or sealed. However, state and federal law enforcement agencies will still have access to your records. Judges have access to your sealed records online.

If you are a defendant you might have to reveal your felony conviction. For example, if you are  trying to become a court appointed guardian.

Many employers will still have access to your sealed or expunged records.

In Florida, expunging or sealing a record does not update onto federal or private databases. Private companies can purchase the information from the counties and state.

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