Does life insurance coverage continue if a person goes to prison?

Don’t need answer fast. :blush:

The recent Turpin case raises an interesting question. Will the 13 abused kids get any life insurance payouts when mom & dad eventually die in prison?

Does life insurance coverage continue if a person goes to prison?

How about a prisoner given the death sentence? Buying additional coverage would probably be a problem. But will old policies pay?

I understand someone would still have to pay the premiums or the policy lapses?

Can a prisoner change the beneficiary?

Wouldn’t the answer to any of those questions depend on the terms of the specific policy purchased in each case?

I thought the terms were pretty standard?

I learned here that suicide doesn’t negate life insurance. I think Cecil did a column debunking the movie trope that suicides had to be hidden to protect coverage.

It is a little more complicated than that:

" Individual life insurance generally covers suicide so long as it occurs after the policy’s suicide clause and contestability provision have expired. Once both of these exclusions are no longer in effect, usually two to three years after a policy was purchased, your life insurance policy will typically cover suicidal death .

  • Contestability clause: This typically extends for the first two years, during which the insurer can contest or deny a claim for various reasons. If the insurer believes you’ve committed suicide during this period, it will investigate the circumstances of your death and your beneficiary may be denied a claim. Once the contestability period expires, the incontestability clause kicks in and a claim cannot be contested except in serious cases—such as misrepresentation or fraud in your application. Minor misstatements cannot cause a claim to be rejected.
  • Suicide clause: Also generally two or three years, this clause gives insurers the ability to investigate claims during this period, and lets them deny coverage if you intentionally caused your own death. If the insurer can demonstrate you intentionally killed yourself or your death was ruled a suicide, your policy will be negated and your beneficiary’s claim denied."

I don’t know exactly what Cecil said, but there is usually a suicide exclusion period for a year or two after you buy an individual policy. Which is in accord with common sense.

Why would terms be standard? If they were, buying a policy would be a no-brainer, because you would just get the cheapest one available.

Many aspects of insurance are tightly regulated to prevent insurance companies putting in endless pages of fine print with unreasonable conditions to evade payouts. There is still competition on key prominent aspects of a policy, but the regulation (if written well) keeps the competition honest.

Details needed:
Who were the beneficiaries of the policy?
What type of policy was it?
Are payments still due and, if so, are payments still being made?

I was thinking about regulation. I haven’t dealt with buying life insurance. I have a basic life policy and optional life policy at work.

Because that’s exactly what life insurance brokers do - they price policies from different companies against each other and (usually) sell the cheapest one. That’s hard to do if life insurance policies aren’t relatively standard across the industry. There are always riders and optional benefits you can add that alter the price, but a 20 year term policy is going to be effectively identical from New York Life versus one from MetLife.

Other factors that would lead a broker away from the cheapest policy:

  • lack of attractive riders
  • the company selling it being an unknown quantity (I wouldn’t have sold you a policy from “Joe’s Backyard Insurance Co.” because who knows where they’ll be 10 years from now.)
  • ease of underwriting
  • customer service

But the fine print and basic structure is going to be very standard.

If David Turpin had life insurance through his employer, that policy has probably been cancelled since he’s out of a job.

A little Googling of the thread title reveals that (1) if you already have a policy in place before going to prison, you’ll keep it as long as the premiums are paid, and (2) it’s almost impossible for prison inmates to buy a new life insurance policy. That’s pretty much what I expected to find.

There are a wide variety of types of life insurance that bundle a bunch of complicated (and generally not a great deal) financial products with basic insurance, but for basic term insurance (for X years, you pay us $Y a month and if you die your beneficiary gets $Z), the terms are in fact pretty standard and simple.

I just read my term life insurance policy (which I did in fact pick by buying the cheapest one from a legit company), and it’s really simple. The only exclusion is for suicide in the first 2 years. There’s a ton of legalese about the methods by which the policy can be amended and the deadlines for payment after receipt of proof of death, and tables of figures and stuff.

But the meat of it, the “if you pay your premiums and then die in the next 20 years, we give your beneficiary $x” takes up less than half a page, and I’m not sure how a more expensive policy could be better. There aren’t any meaningful restrictions to remove!

So, while you’d have to read a policy to be sure, it is extremely likely that the answer to the OP is “Yes”. Life insurance (even from the lowest bidder) covers you if you die and your premiums are paid up, except for the near-term suicide exclusion. Depending on state law, it might be possible to obtain a life insurance policy with other weird exclusions like prison, but I’ve never heard of such a thing and there are several reasons to think it’s unlikely.

Very informative article. Thank you.

I am surprised inmates in minimum security are still considered high risk for insurance. They’re not driving, operating heavy machinery or doing much of anything. I guess inactivity could trigger long term health problems.

Out of all people who look like they might possibly have life insurance, gotta say those folks are pretty far down the list

Makes me sort of wonder if I committed something that put me in the slammer, and mrAru had whatever the top health insurance was [I grew up with the top Blue Cross/Blue Shield policy, for a while my dad was on the board of directors for the regional Blue Cross] could I use it to leverage care from a private doctor and a better hospital? [I have health issues, and I don’t actually trust the prison system to get me my oncology follow ups and really manage my various other medical problems properly, I have heard horror stories about people not getting treatment because they were being ignored]

That’s my thought - don’t most life insurance require regular monthly payments? I don’t think making license plates generates enough income to pay for those. (I always wonder about those movies where the serial killer still owns a storage locker after a few years in prison - don’t those cost money too?)

Dave Turpin was born in 1961 and his wife in 1968 - making them 60 and 53 respectively. if we’re talking term life, what are the odds they die before the term is over? Does term life allow for automatic renewal? Isn’t that something the insured has to consent to? And there’s still the issue of ayment.

As for whole life, this is allegedly the worst investment ever so I’m not very familiar with it. AFAIK, with that it is possible to reach the point where payments are no longer necessary. Would that likely be the case for this couple? But it provides (AFAIK) a pension typically, so I assume the children would have to sue to garnishee the pension. I assume if someone is in prison, there is no provision in a garnishee to leave a residual of living expenses for the recipient? the Wikipedia article says David had worked for Lockheed and Grumman, so there’s also the possibility he qualified for a pension (there’s no further detail of his work history)

As for Blue Cross from prison - I assume the devil is in the details. Would you expect the prison system to provide guard and transportation to take you to the doctor of your choice? I don’t think the prison provides concierge service like that. And depending on location, and your degree of importance, would a doctor take extra time out of his schedule to visit you? Does Blue Cross pay for that? Plus, would the prison accommodate a visit that actually turns into a medical examination rather than the standard “talk through glass” we’re familiar with?

I’m gonna guess “no”.

Somebody would have to keep the premiums paid. There was a gofundme (or something similar) for the Turpin kids. The people managing that fund could pay premiums.

I agree the regular office worker that gets busted would probably lose everything. Foreclosure on the house and cars. Bank accounts seized for creditors etc. The family would have to decide if it’s worth keeping any life insurance policies.

Given that Dave Turpin is 60 years old but could live another 20 or 30 years, I suspect there are better uses to put to the money collected than paying his life insurance for a possible payoff in a few decades. Plus from experience, when a person reaches 60, premiums tend to be pretty high. For his wife, at 53, premiums would be lower but the wait for a payoff could be much longer.

Also consider that a life insurance payout of a few hundred thousand split 13 ways does not give anyone a lot of money.

If the Turpins were that abusive to their kids, why would they consider life insurance to provide for them in the first place.

I know I’ve never dealt with life insurance personally, since in a job with good benefits, both mine and my wife’s, life insurance for self and spouse was a (paid) benefit of the job - at least while the spouse was 65 or under. If that were the Turpins’ situation, then obviously the plan ends with their employment.

I have a policy (whole life?) that my parents bought for me over 50 years ago. I pay no premiums now and get a small dividend check every year. I don’t know why this policy wouldn’t continue whether I am in prison or not.

Slim. Most term life policies are set up for income replacement, to expire around the time of retirement. It’s why they’re so cheap - they usually end well before life expectancy.

Yes - many if not most do. Term renewal is the single most expensive way to provide life insurance, though. Many policies allow the insured to convert a portion of it to whole life after the term expired.