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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.
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.
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 about five years.
How do drinking habits affect 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 it’s in your insurance company’s best interest for you to live as long as possible. Healthy people generally pay the lowest rates, because they’re the lowest risk for the insurer.
Heavy drinking is considered when you apply for life insurance because of its relation to health problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drinking heavily may put you at increased risk for:
- Liver disease
- Long-term heart damage
- Depression and anxiety
- High blood pressure
- Accidental injury and 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.
Best life insurance companies for recovering alcoholics
You’ll generally have to prove to the company that you’re no longer an alcoholic with medical documentation. Someone who has gone 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:
Best underwriting leniency: Transamerica
Take advantage of a diverse product lineup, flexible policy options and a lenient underwriting process.
- Wide selection of product options
- Strong credit ratings
- Underwriting leniency
Best tailored coverage: AIG
Enjoy a company with a strong financial standing, competitive pricing and broad policy options.
- Strong product lineup
- Flexible coverage options
- Strong financial stability
Best spotty driving records: Prudential
Rely on a wide range of product offerings, solid customer support and forgiving underwriting guidelines when it comes to your driving record.
- Rate reduction options
- Lenient underwriting guidelines
- Rates based on actual age
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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.
The CDC lists excessive drinking as having the following number of drinks or more:
|Number of drinks on a single occasion||Number 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 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. In 2017 alone, there were 10,874 deaths caused by drunk-driving crashes, according to the National Highway for Traffic Safety Administration.
With a DUI to your name, you can expect to pay more for life insurance for at least five years. 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.
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.
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