Finder is committed to editorial independence. While we receive compensation when you click links to partners, they do not influence our content.

Life insurance and alcohol

Social drinking won't affect your ability to qualify — but excessive drinking will.

Having a glass of wine at night likely won’t affect your life insurance application at all. But a history of alcoholism, or undiagnosed problematic drinking, will.

How does my drinking affect my life insurance?

If you drink occasionally and it doesn’t affect your health, it likely won’t affect your ability to qualify for life insurance at all. But if you drink excessively or you have a history of alcoholism, it can lead to higher insurance premiums.

You may not be able to qualify for a medically underwritten policy at all if you have other health problems caused by your drinking, or you drink heavily enough that you’re likely to have health problems from it in the future.

Why do insurers care how much I drink?

Life insurance is paid out when you die. So life insurance companies will charge you more if you’re unhealthy because there is a statistically larger chance they will have to pay out a death benefit in the event of your death. Healthy people generally pay the lowest rates, because the insurer is less likely to actually have to pay the death benefit.

Heavy drinking is considered when you apply for life insurance because of its relation to health problems. According to Health Canada, drinking heavily may put you at increased risk for:

  • Cancer
  • Liver damage
  • Brain damage (such as dementia and problems with motor control)
  • Depression
  • Risk of high blood pressure
  • Death

What questions will I be asked about my alcohol use?

When you apply for life insurance you may be required to complete a questionnaire related to your alcohol consumption. Typical questions can include:

  • Number of alcoholic beverages per day
  • If you’ve suffered any medical conditions related to the consumption of alcohol
  • If you’ve met with a doctor or sought medical counseling relating to alcohol consumption
  • If you’ve had to take time off work due to alcohol consumption
  • Details of your driving records.

Based on the results of your questionnaire you may be required to undertake additional medical testing.

How does life insurance work?

Compare life insurance providers

1 - 3 of 3
Name Product Types of Insurance Coverage Range Issue Ages Medical Exam Required Province Availability
PolicyMe Life Insurance
Term Life, Critical Illness
$100,000 - $5,000,000
18 - 75
Get fast and affordable term life insurance. Personalize your policy details and get an estimate price within seconds. No phone call, meeting or paperwork required. Get an instant decision.
RBC Life Insurance
Term Life
$50,000 - $1,000,000
18 - 70
Select from two unique RBC term life insurance plans to get flexible and affordable coverage that suits your lifestyle and budget. Get a free quote through Walnut.
Whole Life, Term Life, Universal, No Medical
$25,000 - $25,000,000
18 - 75
PolicyAdvisor is a digital life insurance brokerage that has partnerships with 20 insurers in Canada.

What is the accepted alcohol intake by an insurance company’s standard?

How many drinks you can have per week without it affecting your rates varies among insurers. Typically if you don’t want it to impact your health — or life insurance — you should stay under any amount that would be considered heavy drinking.

Every life insurance company will have different alcohol consumption limits. As a possible guide, however, The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction lists excessive drinking as having no more than the following number of drinks:

Number of drinks per dayNumber of drinks in a week

What if my alcohol intake is significantly higher than this standard?

If you consume more alcohol than what’s outlined above, you’ll likely be viewed as having an increased level of risk by your insurer. And you can expect your premiums to rise to match that risk.

If you feel like your drinking is problematic, or you want to cut down to help with your premiums, talk with your doctor to get help quitting.

How to seek help

If you think you may be an alcoholic, or if you’re a recovering alcoholic and you’re worried you might relapse, call your province or territory’s Addictions Treatment Helpline at the appropriate number listed on this website.

Trained specialists are available 24 hours a day and can provide free and confidential information about substance abuse and referrals to treatment options near you.

Can alcoholics get life insurance?

If you’re a confirmed alcoholic who’s still drinking heavily, the chances of you obtaining life insurance are slim. And if you can get a policy, it will likely be extremely expensive.

Guaranteed issue life insurance

Also known as guaranteed acceptance life insurance, this type of policy is open to anyone. It forgoes both the medical exam and health questionnaire, and insurers can’t refuse coverage. Typically, guaranteed issue policies are permanent life policies that are capped at small amounts, like $50,000. They’re often marketed to seniors as a way to cover funeral costs and end-of-life expenses, but the usual cap to apply is age 75.

As a recovering alcoholic

However, if you’re a recovering alcoholic, you’ll typically be able to get a policy. Some advice to think about if you’re a recovering alcoholic and shopping for life insurance is:

  • Document how giving up or substantially cutting down your alcohol intake has improved your health.
  • Evidence of your progress supported by a health care professional can lend credibility to your application.
  • Avoid any relapses, providers will see this as a big red flag.
  • Let your insurer know if you’re attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
  • Inform your insurer if you’ve successfully completed any other rehabilitation programs.
  • If you’ve never had a DUI, provide a copy of your driving record.

How long are life insurance rates affected after recovery?

Independent recovery or graduating from a rehabilitation program doesn’t guarantee you’ll be accepted for life insurance. It also doesn’t guarantee your rates will drop.

Insurance companies will often still assign you to a subprime risk category for several years following your recovery. If your general health improves and remains well, and you don’t relapse, you may be able to find a life insurance company that considers you a standard risk after a certain number of years.

How will a DUI affect life insurance?

If you have a DUI on your record, you’ll have a harder time getting life insurance. Most companies will deny you coverage if you’ve had a DUI conviction in the last year, while others will significantly raise your rates.

In the eyes of an insurer, drunk driving is risky — and potentially fatal. According to MADD, 655 deaths were caused by car crashes involving alcohol in 2014 alone.

With a DUI to your name, you can expect to pay more for life insurance for some years after your conviction. Your best bet is to look for insurers who specialize in high-risk applicants, or take out an annual renewable term policy until you become eligible for better rates.

Either way, be upfront about your DUI on your application, and prepare to answer questions about your driving record and alcohol use. Depending on the policy you’re applying for, the insurer might cross-check your answers with motor vehicle and medical records, and lying is considered fraud.

Bottom line

While the occasional drink won’t affect your life insurance rates, problematic drinking can. If you’re concerned about your drinking habits, talk to your doctor about cutting back or stopping altogether in a safe and healthy way. And if you’re a social drinker with healthy habits, compare life insurers to find the best deal on a policy.

Frequently asked questions

More guides on Finder

Ask an Expert

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Go to site