Everything you need to know about how alcohol consumption can affect your life insurance premiums
Americans have a well-earned reputation for liking a drink or three. Whether it be counting down the minutes to happy hour on a Friday or drinking away a summers afternoon watching baseball, there’s no shortage of occasions where having an alcoholic beverage is encouraged — and sometimes expected.
However, it’s also widely accepted that excessive alcohol consumption can have a number of detrimental consequences for your health, such as:
- Liver disease
- Long-term heart damage
- Elevated blood pressure levels
- Accidental injury and even death
And it’s for these very reasons that alcohol abuse can negatively impact your life insurance premiums.
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How is alcohol consumption treated by life insurers?
When you apply for a life insurance policy, the process of underwriting will be used to assess your individual risk to calculate how high your insurance premiums should be.
Due to the many health issues associated with excessive alcohol consumption, not to mention the possibility of injuries from alcohol-related accidents, underwriters will take your alcohol intake into consideration when assessing your application.
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 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.
What is the accepted alcohol intake by an insurance provider’s standard?
The maximum amount of drinks per week that’s generally accepted by many insurance providers is:
- 14 a week or having 4 per day for men
- 7 a week or having 3 per day for women
How is alcohol measured by life insurers?
Alcohol is measured by standard drinks — or 14 grams of alcohol. Here’s how it’s broken down for different types of alcohol:
- 12 ounces of regular beer
- 5 ounces of wine
- A shot of hard alcohol (1.5 ounces)
What if my alcohol intake is significantly higher than this standard?
If you consume more alcohol than what is stated as the maximum amount of alcohol a week, you’ll likely be viewed as an increased level of risk by your insurer — expect your premiums to rise. As the likelihood of you suffering health problems and needing to make a claim increases, so will the amount you have to pay for a life insurance policy.
What are the red flags that can indicate alcohol abuse?
Symptoms that can signify health issues due to excessive alcohol consumption will be looked for during your medical examination. In the early stages of alcoholism, the symptoms can include blackouts (where you have no memory of what happened while you were drinking), accidents and sicknesses you can’t explain. You can also develop physical problems and previous health issues may worsen.
As alcohol dependence worsens, long-term heavy drinkers generally start to experience more noticeable and definable symptoms, which can include:
- Lack of appetite and weight loss
- Small blood vessels on your skin
- Redness on the face, especially on the nose and cheeks
- Swelling of the palms of hands
- Sore or upset stomach
- Unsteadiness when on feet
- Liver problems
What life insurance providers should I apply to if I’m a recovering alcoholic?
You’ll generally have to prove to the company that you’re no longer an alcoholic with medical documentation. Someone who has went to and completed a rehabilitation program will likely have higher chances of approval as well.
The following life insurance providers are most likely to grant a policy to a recovering alcoholic:
Other companies that may approve you for a policy are Transamerica and AIG.
Is it possible for alcoholics to apply for life insurance?
If you’re a confirmed alcoholic who’s still drinking heavily, the chances of you obtaining life insurance are slim — or it will be extremely expensive. 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.
- Providing medical proof that you have a healthy liver can be beneficial.
Taking this advice into consideration will generally improve your chances of finding a life insurance policy. Be sure to research different companies and see which provider can offer you coverage that’s ideal for your individual situation.