Many successful men and women make a career out of selling insurance in states throughout the U.S. Although it is a good career, it takes intensive training, and you must be licensed through the state where you want to practice. Some legal stipulations vary by state, and in some cases, if you have a criminal record, you won’t be able to proceed down that career path.
Anyone who sells insurance within a particular state must be licensed by that state to perform that type of work. Licensure relates to all kinds of insurance such as life, health, automobile, commercial, property and all other forms of insurance people purchase and need throughout their lifetimes.
The requirements for obtaining a license are at least a high-school diploma, but some states require a college degree also. You must also go through a thorough training process and then take a test. You must pay a fee to take the test, and if you pass, you can be licensed through the state and start practicing as a licensed insurance agent. During the licensing procedure, you will also undergo a background check.
If interested in a career in insurance, you must undergo a full background check with fingerprinting. This process will reveal any criminal history, and if you have a past that includes crimes that involve dishonesty or a breach of trust from working in the insurance business, you will be denied licensure. Bill Clinton was responsible for this law called the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. However, the law does permit you to become licensed if you can produce a signed 1033 consent waiver from the state where you operated.
Other considerations that will affect your ability to become licensed are the frequency of offenses, sentencing, and completion of rehabilitation. The insurance commissioner is really only concerned with felonies that are related to your ability to perform the functions necessary to work in the insurance industry.
Crimes such as robbery, theft, burglary, dishonesty, fraud, breach of fiduciary trust and any convictions related to work within the insurance industry would prohibit someone from being licensed. Other crimes that would affect licensure are those that threatened public safety and violent or financial crimes.
Other minor felonies, misdemeanors or driving offenses may be allowed after a sufficient amount of time has passed. In some states, they may grant you a temporary or probationary license for six months to a year, and then if you stay out of trouble, you will be licensed permanently.
In other cases, you may be able to get licensed but only under the supervision of another veteran agent who will monitor you and your work for a specific period of time.
You may also be granted a limited insurance license with stipulations that you can only sell certain types of policies or other restrictions.
It’s always best when obtaining licensure to be up front and honest about any criminal history you have. Even if the background check does not reveal any convictions, you may want to get ahead of things and report it yourself. That way later if somehow they are discovered, your license will not be revoked. In 2016, in Massachusetts, an insurance agent failed to disclose a misdemeanor before becoming licensed, and when it was discovered they were fined $5,000 and their licensed revoked. It makes good sense to be safe rather than sorry and honest about your past so that it cannot come back later to damage your career.
Depending on the severity of the crime, U.S. citizens (generally those with a first-time offense) can petition the court to expunge their criminal record. Although the laws vary by state, most do have provisions for this process. Some files will not be able to be sealed but others will; specifically severe or violent offenses will not pass. Once expunged, the records are removed from the public record, and they will not show up in any background checks or searches.