Life Insurance For People With Alcohol Problems

Written by Jeff Root

Alcoholics Anonymous devotees subscribe to the concept that they will always be an alcoholic. Even if they never drink a single drop of liquor again.

Life insurance companies, on the other hand, are a bit less strict in defining alcoholics. In fact, they treat applicants that remain sober for five years or longer the same as their non-alcoholic peers.

Even individuals that have been sober less than five years may still be able to secure affordable life insurance coverage.

What Is Considered Harmful Drinking?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) defines moderate drinking as 1 daily drink for women and 2 daily drinks for men. So harmful drinking for a woman is considered more than 3 daily drinks or more than 10 drinks total in a week. Excessive alcohol use for men is defined by more than 4 drinks in a day or more than 14 drinks total in a week.

If you are someone that enjoys a glass of wine nightly, don’t worry too much. Life insurance companies are not looking to insure only those that never enjoy a cocktail or beer.

They are looking out for applicants that were diagnosed with alcoholism, told to abstain from drinking alcohol, or have developed other health issues directly related to alcohol use.

Can An Alcoholic Get Life Insurance?

Yes. The only contingency to this question is that there are varying degrees of life insurance coverage that alcoholics can get, depending on their health, and other factors.

Anyone that is currently drinking an excessive amount will automatically be declined. There is no room for negotiation. The risk of insuring someone that abuses alcohol is much too great.

Life insurance companies want to see that an applicant has been sober for a minimum of 2 years before applying for a policy. This is because the insurance company must take into consideration relapse rates.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports between 40% and 60% of people treated for alcoholism will relapse within one year. The life insurance company figures if you’ve made it the 2-year mark then you are more likely to stay sober. However, the insurer will still increase your premium over the standard rate because you have not surpassed the five-year sobriety mark.

If an applicant has not abused alcohol in 5 years or more, they will be viewed the same as a non-alcoholic peer. Past alcohol abuse will not factor into the applicant’s rating or premium. Recovering alcoholics with 5 years of sobriety will be evaluated based strictly on their general health, not their history of alcoholism.

What Can I Do If I Am Declined Life Insurance? 

If you are declined for traditional life insurance coverage because of your alcohol consumption, don’t worry, there are still some options available for you.

No exam life insurance is always an option. This type of life insurance policy is permanent life insurance which means it lasts until the end of your life. No exam policies do not require medical exams, and some do not even require health-related questions either.

For people who are denied life insurance coverage because of alcohol consumption, this type of life insurance policy is best for you.

No exam policies are typically available up to $25,000 in coverage, with some companies offering policies up to $100,000 in coverage. Because of the accelerated underwriting, no exam policies can offer quick life insurance coverage within a few days of applying.

How To Prepare For Your Life Insurance Application

Before submitting your life insurance application, know the things that can actually help you get a life insurance policy. Honestly, these may not dramatically change your overall rating but the insurance company will certainly look more positively upon your application.

If you are able to say “yes” to one or all of the below items then you will become a much more appealing applicant than someone that can’t do so.

  • No police record
  • Regular (long-term) employment
  • Financial stability
  • Family stability
  • Voluntarily going into treatment
  • Only one period of treatment/hospitalization
  • Attend Alcoholics Anonymous or other 12 step program

Be prepared, to tell the truth. Life insurance companies want to get an accurate picture of you as an applicant. The biggest mistake you can make in the application process is to withhold information.

Basic Application Information

The insurance company will review all facets of your life. The underwriter will first assess the following facts:

  • Age
  • Height and Weight
  • Current and Past Illnesses
  • Current and Past Medications
  • Past hospitalizations
  • Tobacco use in the past 12 months
  • Driving record
  • Criminal record
  • Occupation
  • Hobbies and lifestyle choices

Each of these details builds a profile of you as an applicant. In turn, this helps inform the insurance company as to your chances of dying prematurely. Of course, there is plenty more research the insurance company will do to provide the most accurate rating and premium.

Alcoholism Information for Application

As far as your alcoholism, the life insurance company will want to know specifics such as:

  1. What was the date of your initial diagnosis or treatment?
  2. Was your treatment court ordered? Or did you voluntarily go to rehab?
  3. What age were you when this occurred?
  4. Since the initial treatment, have you had additional rehabilitation treatments? If so, when?
  5. Was the treatment successful and did you stick to the recommended treatment?
  6. Have you completed all follow-up visits ordered by your doctor?
  7. Have you relapsed? If so, what dates did you relapse?
  8. Do you have any other major health problems (ex: cancer, diabetes, ulcers, etc.)?
  9. What is your current level of alcohol consumption?
  10. Have there been any legal problems (such as DUI)?
  11. Do you currently participate in a 12 step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous?
  12. Do you have any other major health problems (ex: cancer, diabetes, ulcers, etc.)?
  13. Do any of the following scenarios apply to you?

Other factors life insurance companies will look at: 

  1. Use of other substances such as marijuana or cocaine
  2. Medical complications related to alcohol
  3. Elevated liver enzymes
  4. Positive alcohol marker
  5. Family/friends’ concern over drinking habits
  6. Blackouts
  7. Withdrawal seizures
  8. Driving under the influence charge

Medical Exam Test Results

As part of the life insurance application process, you will be required to have a “paramedical exam”. This exam is normally performed by a nurse at your home. The nurse will collect a blood and urine specimen for testing. These tests are meant to look for chronic ailments such as diabetes, AIDS, hepatitis, and signs of substance abuse.

If the medical underwriter has some concerns that you drink excessively, they will also have a Carbohydrate Deficient Transferrin (CDT) test performed. The CDT can measure enzymes in your liver to identify cirrhosis or other liver diseases. If you are a heavy drinker then your liver function will be higher than your peers. If you only drink alcohol in moderation then your CDT results will be normal.

CDT tests can also indicate a benign issue unrelated to alcoholism which is causing elevated liver function. For example, you could be taking way too many ibuprofen which will trigger a high CDT result.

The medical underwriter will take all aspects of your application, including the medical tests, into consideration before rating you.

Medical Records Review

Besides a paramed exam, the life insurance underwriter will also review your medical records. The notes in your medical chart will tell even more about you. For example, the physician may have noted their suspicion of you drinking excessively or the doctor could have noted your own concern over drinking too much.

Again, this is an example of how you will not be able to hide the truth for long! Whether it is through a medical exam or medical records, the life insurance company will eventually find out your true drinking status.

What Happens if You Lie About Alcohol Consumption on Your Life Insurance Application?

Even if you try to keep certain unsavory tidbits to yourself, the insurance underwriter will find out the truth while reviewing your medical history, driving record, and physical exam results.

You do not want the underwriter to determine you are a liar! This will negatively impact your ability to secure life insurance.

Finally, we recommend you work with an independent insurance agent specializing in high-risk cases such as yours. An independent agent will know the life insurance companies who work best for recovering alcoholics.

The agent can also work directly with the medical underwriter on your behalf. For example, the agent will provide the insurance company with information on how well your recovery is going. The agent will share positive details of your life such as your commitment to physical fitness and regularly attending 12 step meetings.

Health Classification Ratings for Recovering Alcoholics

Once the medical underwriter completes the application review process, they will then assign you a class rating. This class rating is what eventually determines your insurance premiums.

After much review, we’ve found most life insurers will classify alcoholics in the below manner.

Alcohol Usage Preferred ($) Standard Plus ($$) Standard ($$$) Sub-Standard [Table Rating] ($$$$)
5 years sobriety, excellent health x x
5 years sobriety, other health issues or risks x
2-4 years of sobriety, excellent health x
Sober less than 2 years, excellent health x
Currently enjoy more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day, excellent health x
Currently enjoy more than 3 alcoholic drinks per day, excellent health x

If you have been sober for less than 2 years, the insurance company may still offer coverage but at a much higher premium (sub-standard rate). Or you may have your application “postponed” altogether which is not the same as a “decline.” Postponed applications are simply put on hold while they wait to see how your sobriety goes and if you remain alcohol-free past your 2 year anniversary.

If you have multiple DUI’s combined with alcoholism, most life insurance companies will deem you “uninsurable” and you will not be able to get a traditional life insurance policy. In this case, your insurance agent may recommend you buy a guaranteed issue life insurance policy. This type of policy does not involve traditional underwriting and, therefore, you will not have to disclose your alcoholism.

Of course, guaranteed issue life insurance is more costly than a traditional term or whole life policy. However, having life insurance for your family is very important. Most people like yourself feel that extra premium is worth it to make sure your loved ones are financially sound.

Best Life Insurance Companies for Alcoholics

Life insurance companies take alcoholism very seriously. This is because alcohol abuse increases your mortality risk. Obviously, a life insurance carrier takes that into consideration when they are insuring someone’s life.

These life insurers are some of the best when it comes to dealing with alcoholics. Your insurance agent will help you narrow down the right policy and carrier for your specific situation.

Company A.M. Best Rating Customer Service Rating
Banner Life A+ 4.3 / 5
John Hancock A+ 4.1 / 5
Lincoln Financial A+ 4.2 / 5
Prudential A+ 4.1 / 5
Protective A+ 4.2 / 5
AIG A+ 4.2 / 5
Transamerica A+ 4.1 / 5

Finding the Best Life Insurance for People with Alcohol Problems

One out of every seven American has struggled with alcohol abuse within the last year alone. Due to the danger of alcoholism, it is no wonder that life insurance companies have strict guidelines for reviewing and rating applicants dealing with alcoholism. However, this tough stance on alcoholism does not mean there is no hope of getting insured.

Your life insurance agent is really the helping hand you will need through this process. The agent will make sure you get an affordable, high quality life insurance policy. This is because they are industry professionals that know which life insurers will look upon your application most favorably. Having such knowledgeable people on your side will save you a lot of time and frustration along the way.

Before you earn the next 30-day sobriety coin, make sure you have a life insurance policy in place to protect your family’s future. Your loved ones will be grateful for your sobriety, as well as your effort to keep them secure.

The best way to find the best life insurance coverage for people with alcoholism and alcohol problems is to work with an independent life insurance agent who can help you compare rates and policies from dozens of the best life insurance companies for alcoholics. Give us a call today to get started working with a professional.

About Best Life Insurance Companies
About Best Life Insurance Companies

We work with individuals across the nation to secure the best life insurance rates.

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