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How to get life insurance with a drug addiction

A history of drug addition doesn't disqualify you for coverage — but it may pose a challenge.

If you’ve suffered from substance abuse, your options for life insurance are unfortunately limited. However, a history of drug addiction doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get coverage — it just may make it more challening.

Can I get life insurance if I’m currently struggling with a drug addiction?

While it’s possible to get coverage if you’ve had substance abuse problems in the past, finding life insurance if you’re currently dealing with drug addiction can be tricky. Most insurers require you to prove you’ve been sober and in recovery for at least two to five years.

Can I get life insurance if I have a history of substance abuse?

Yes. If you’ve struggled with addiction in the past but have completed your rehab program and are now clean, you may be able to find coverage. However, be prepared to answer questions about your substance abuse as part of your application.

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Your ability to qualify for a policy will come down to your insurer, as well as factors like:
  • The severity of your substance abuse problem
  • The length of time you were using drugs
  • How long you’ve been clean and in recovery
  • The types of drugs you were using and how they were administered
  • Your treatment program, or whether you were required to enter a rehab facility
  • Whether you relapsed
  • Whether your addiction resulted in any legal issues, such as a DUI
  • Whether you had any medical complications as a result of your addiction.

Your substance use isn’t the only thing your insurer will look at when considering you for coverage. They’ll also assess your:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Lifestyle
  • Marital status
  • Occupation
  • Tobacco usage

Does a past drug addiction affect my life insurance rates?

Yes. Any history of drug use affects how much you pay for your life insurance policy, and it’s important to be completely honest in your application. The amount you’ll pay for coverage will depend on your insurer’s underwriting standards, as well as the severity of your past addiction and how long you’ve been clean.

How do I get life insurance when I have a drug addiction?

If you’re currently using drugs, your life insurance application will more than likely be denied. If you’re in recovery and have been clean for a while, you could take out a traditional life insurance policy. There are a few ways to go about that:

  • Enlist the help of an agent. Agents have a deep understanding of the life insurance market, and they can advise you on which insurers have the most lenient guidelines and competitive rates for your profile.
  • Get group life insurance through your employer. If your employer offers group life insurance as part of your employee benefits, consider taking them up for it. The premiums are typically subsidized, and no medical exam is required.
  • Directly from an insurer. If you’re comfortable researching insurers on your own, you could compare quotes from a range of providers to ensure you’re getting the best possible policy and premium.

Can I get a policy without a medical exam?

Yes. If you’d prefer to skip the medical exam, you can explore these no-exam policies.

Simplified issue life insurance

With simplified life insurance, you still need to fill out a health questionnaire — but most people are approved for coverage.

Guaranteed issue life insurance

Also known as guaranteed acceptance life insurance, this policy is open to anyone, no questions asked. But since the insurer can’t rely on the health questionnaire and medical exam to determine your risk level, you’ll pay a much higher premium.

Instant approval insurance with accelerated underwriting

There are a string of life insurance startups that can issue term life insurance on the spot. Typically, you’ll need to fill out a form about your health and lifestyle, but past substance use may not disqualify you for coverage.

Bottom line

Getting life insurance with a history of substance abuse may pose a challenge, but getting coverage is possible. Life insurance companies have complex underwriting standards, and some are more lenient than others. It’s important to compare your options to ensure you’re getting a solid policy at a premium you can afford.

Frequently asked questions


Written by

Katia Iervasi

Katia Iervasi is a lead writer and spokesperson at NerdWallet and a former editor at Finder, specializing in insurance. Her writing and analysis on life, disability and health insurance has been featured in The Washington Post, Forbes, Yahoo, Entrepreneur, Best Company and FT Advisor. She holds a BA in communication from Australia's Griffith University. See full profile

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