Felonies in Colorado and Their Impact on Getting Insurance

convicted felon reviewing insurance denial

In Colorado driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense with significant legal and financial repercussions. When DUI offenses escalate to felonies, the consequences become even more severe. One of the many areas a felony impacts is insurance.

Overview of Colorado Felony Classes

Class 1 Felonies

Class 1 felonies represent the most severe crimes in Colorado. These include offenses like murder, which carry penalties such as life imprisonment or the death penalty.

Class 2 to Class 6 Felonies

Felonies from Class 2 to Class 6 vary in severity.

  • Class 2 Felonies: These include serious crimes like sexual assault and drug trafficking, with harsh penalties.
  • Class 6 Felonies: These involve less severe offenses like minor theft and possession of controlled substances. The penalties for these felonies are lighter but still significant.

Class 4 Felonies

Class 4 felonies in Colorado include crimes such as vehicular assault, certain drug offenses, and repeat DUI offenses. These felonies carry serious penalties but are less severe than those for Class 1 or Class 2 felonies.

Impact of Felony Charges on Auto Insurance

Premium Increases

Felony convictions result in substantial premium hikes. Insurance companies in Colorado assess a higher risk for individuals with felony records. This is especially true for driving offenses like DUI. A felony DUI indicates a pattern of risky behavior, leading insurers to raise premiums significantly. This increase reflects the higher likelihood of future claims.

Policy Cancellation

Many insurers may cancel policies upon learning of a felony conviction. This forces individuals to search for new coverage, often at significantly higher rates. The process of finding a new insurer can be challenging and time-consuming. High-risk drivers typically face limited options, and the policies available are usually more expensive and offer fewer benefits.

SR-22 Insurance

After certain driving-related felonies, such as a Class 4 felony DUI, Colorado requires an SR-22 certificate. This certificate proves that a driver has the state-mandated minimum insurance. Obtaining an SR-22 involves additional fees, and the insurance policies associated with it are more costly. This requirement can last for several years, adding to the financial burden of maintaining coverage. Failure to maintain SR-22 insurance can result in further legal consequences and additional financial penalties.

Home and Renters Insurance Implications

Higher Premiums

Felony convictions can also impact home and renters insurance. Insurers may increase premiums due to the perceived higher risk associated with having a felony record. This elevated risk perception stems from concerns about potential criminal behavior, property damage, or involvement in illegal activities. As a result, individuals with felony convictions often face higher costs for their home or renters insurance policies. Some insurance companies may refuse to provide coverage altogether, forcing individuals to seek out specialized insurers who cater to high-risk clients.

Claim Denials

Certain felony convictions, especially those involving theft or arson, can lead insurers to deny claims. Insurers argue increased risk or fraudulent intent when processing claims from policyholders with such convictions. For example, a person with a felony arson conviction might struggle to receive compensation for fire damage, as insurers might suspect intentional misconduct. This denial of claims adds another layer of financial and personal hardship for those with felony records. Additionally, even if claims are not outright denied, the investigation process may be more rigorous and lengthy, causing delays in receiving payouts.

Limited Coverage Options

Felony convictions may also limit the coverage options available to individuals. Standard policies might not be accessible, requiring individuals to opt for more restrictive and costly policies. These limited policies often come with higher deductibles and fewer coverage benefits, which can leave policyholders underinsured in the event of a loss.

Impact on Renewal Policies

Felony convictions can also affect the renewal of existing home or renters insurance policies. Insurers might choose not to renew a policy upon discovering a felony record, pushing individuals to find new insurers under less favorable terms. This disruption can lead to gaps in coverage and increased financial vulnerability.

Life and Health Insurance

Life Insurance

Felony convictions can have significant impacts on life insurance:

  • Higher Premiums: Insurers assess a higher risk of early death or criminal behavior, resulting in increased premiums for policyholders with felony records.
  • Denial of Coverage: In some cases, insurers may refuse to issue a policy, especially if the felony involves violent crimes or serious drug offenses. This leaves individuals without a crucial safety net for their families.

Health Insurance

The Affordable Care Act prevents outright denial of health insurance based on criminal history. However, insurers can still adjust premiums and coverage options:

  • Indirect Influences: Factors like health issues arising from incarceration, mental health concerns, and a potentially higher likelihood of requiring medical services can lead to higher premiums.
  • Limited Coverage Options: Individuals with felony records may find fewer choices among health insurance providers, which limits their ability to shop for the best rates and coverage.

Navigating Insurance Challenges Post-Conviction

Legal Advice

Consulting with a criminal defense attorney can help individuals understand the full scope of their felony charges and how to mitigate long-term impacts. This is particularly crucial for those facing a Class 4 felony. An attorney can provide guidance on legal options and strategies to reduce penalties, which can, in turn, affect insurance outcomes.

Insurance Shopping

Post-conviction, it’s advisable to compare multiple insurance providers to find the best possible rates. Some insurers specialize in high-risk policies and may offer more competitive rates. Steps to take include:

  • Research: Look for insurers that offer policies for individuals with felony convictions.
  • Compare Quotes: Obtain quotes from several providers to find the most affordable option.
  • Seek Recommendations: Consult with a financial advisor or legal expert for recommendations on suitable insurers.

Maintaining Good Standing

Improving one’s driving record, participating in rehabilitation programs, and demonstrating stable behavior can help in gradually lowering insurance premiums over time. Key actions include:

  • Driving Record: Maintain a clean driving record by obeying traffic laws and avoiding further offenses.
  • Rehabilitation Programs: Participate in programs that address substance abuse or other issues related to the felony conviction.
  • Stable Behavior: Show evidence of stable, responsible behavior in personal and professional life to build trust with insurers.

Felony convictions can significantly impact insurance premiums and coverage options. To mitigate these effects, consult with a criminal defense attorney to understand the legal implications and explore ways to reduce penalties. Shop around for insurance providers specializing in high-risk policies, and maintain a clean driving record and responsible behavior to gradually lower premiums. Engaging in long-term financial planning, such as building savings and managing debt, can also help manage the financial strain. These proactive steps can help you better navigate the challenges of securing affordable insurance post-conviction.

Additional References

https://cdhs.colorado.gov/sites/cdhs/files/2021-05/felony_sentencing_guidelines.pdf