If you or someone you love has a history of alcoholism or alcohol abuse, you may be wondering how this affects your (or their) chances of being approved for life insurance. It is right to be concerned, since life insurance companies take a history of alcohol abuse very seriously.
Every insurance company has its own viewpoints and policies on applicants who have a history of substance abuse, including abuse of alcohol. Each case is different and has a chance of being approved or declined.
To determine the likelihood of your application being approved, we recommend working with an experienced life insurance agent. Because we have worked with many different applicants, and various insurance companies, we can give you an accurate quote and help you prepare your application.
How Life Insurance And Alcohol Abuse Are Seen By Underwriters
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism refers to drinking problems as Alcohol Use Disorders or AUDs. There are different sub classifications for AUDs, like binge drinking and heavy drinking. According to the Institute’s statistics on US alcohol abuse:
- 1.5 million adults received treatment for an AUD at a specialized facility in 2014
- Nearly 88,000 Americans die from alcohol related causes each year
- In 2014, alcohol impaired driving fatalities accounted for almost 10,000 deaths
These statistics also reveal adult men tend to have a higher rate of alcohol abuse. This doesn’t mean a life insurance underwriter will look more favorably on a woman with a history of alcoholism, though. The specifics of each applicant’s use and behavior will be evaluated.
Alcohol abuse has several high risk side effects life insurance companies are concerned with, including;
- Accidental death due to being impaired, including, but not limited to, driving while intoxicated
- Health conditions, especially liver disease
- Behavior resulting in putting oneself in risky situations, including the use of recreational drugs or attempting suicide
- Greater risk of criminal activity and incarceration
Each of the above side effects or situations increases the likelihood of mortality, which is the exact opposite of what a life insurance underwriter wants to see when he or she reviews your application. If you have been diagnosed with alcoholism, received treatment for your alcohol abuse, or you have had a DUI or DWI, you will be a higher risk applicant for life insurance.
For someone who overcame alcohol abuse and is now living alcohol free (often referred to as a recovering alcoholic), there are still concerns about physical health. Long term alcohol use can cause permanent damage to the liver, which can be fatal.
In this case, a life insurance underwriter will want to be sure you are no longer drinking, even occasionally.
The Application Process
A standard question on a life insurance application is, “Do you have a history of alcohol abuse?”
You will need to answer honestly, even if you have had your condition under control for many years. If you have seen a doctor for your abuse of alcohol and have received treatment, you will be able to provide these details on your application, which could demonstrate you have your condition under control.
If you have not seen a doctor, your alcohol abuse will likely be revealed during your life insurance medical exam. Your liver function test results, along with a standard blood test, will provide specific markers indicating the overuse of alcohol.
Some questions you can expect to be asked include:
- When was your last drink?
- Do you use recreational drugs?
- Are you currently undergoing treatment for drug or alcohol abuse?
- Do you have a family history of alcoholism?
- Have you been diagnosed with an alcohol related health condition?
- Have you been charged with a DUI or DWI?
A background check will be conducted to confirm you do not have a record of driving while impaired.
Best Possible Outcomes
Life insurance premiums for someone with a history of alcohol abuse will depend on the current state of the condition (currently drinking or recovered), the date of the applicant’s last drink, and their overall health.
If you have recovered from your alcohol use disorder and have not had a drink in five years, and you are in excellent overall health, you can expect to receive a Standard or Standard Plus rating. Your premiums will be of average affordability.
If you are a recovering alcoholic and have not had a drink in five years, but have other high risk health conditions, you will likely receive a Standard health class rating. Again, these premiums are average in cost.
If you have had an alcohol problem within the last five years, and have drank within the last 2-4 years, you may be able to secure a Sub-Standard rating, provided you are in overall good health and are under the treatment of a doctor or alcohol counselor. Your premiums will be more expensive than average.
To increase your rating and decrease your premiums, you will need to continue treatments and pass the five year mark for being alcohol free.
Individuals who have a history of alcohol abuse and have had a DUI or DWI will have a difficult time getting traditional life insurance. You should work with an experienced life insurance agent before submitting your application to any one company.
Next Steps to Take
As you can see, there are many possible outcomes to applying for life insurance with an alcohol problem in your past. Since alcohol is a legal substance, and many people drink socially, some people are not aware of their problem, or are never diagnosed.
As life insurance agents, we’ll ask you the tough questions up front. We’ll determine if your alcohol use will be considered abusive, and to what extent your use of alcohol (past or present) will affect your chances of getting life insurance coverage.
Contact us today to begin the life insurance process. We’ve worked with applicants who have a history of alcoholism and alcohol abuse, and we will help you in the best way we know how.