You may have already been denied for life insurance. You may have been told you can’t get approved.
Is this true?
You can ALWAYS get some type of life insurance coverage. Even with a history of alcoholism.
It’s going to be more difficult. You must know where to apply. You will likely pay higher rates.
Let’s get to work on getting you coverage and saving you $$….
In this article you will learn:
- Why life insurance companies care about alcohol abuse
- Recovering alcoholic vs current alcoholic, what is the difference for my premiums?
- Not an alcoholic but have gone to extremes a few times
- What questions will be asked about my history with alcohol?
- What will they look for related to alcoholism if I take a medical exam?
- The 5-year rule as it’s relates to life insurance and alcohol abuse
- What health class rating will I get?
- How much will my premiums be?
- Best life insurance companies to apply at for recovering alcoholics
According to the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAA), 28% of American adults drink at levels that put them at risk for alcohol dependence and alcohol-related problems.
I won’t try and tell you that I know how you feel.
I will say that you deserve to be commended for confronting your alcohol issues. You deserve to have life insurance coverage for your loved ones.
Nervous? Let us do the heavy lifting for you. Getting approved for life insurance with alcohol abuse in your history can be tricky. If you’d like a hand to walk you through it all, reach out to us. We have plenty of experience in these cases and will fight for you. No obligation. No pressure. No cost to use our help.
Why Life Insurance Companies Care About Alcohol Abuse
You have put your alcohol issues in the past and should be commended.
We are NOT here to tell you the risks of alcohol abuse. I think you are well aware and I don’t want to insult you. It is, however, important to understand how the insurance carriers look at this risk.
Just 2 quick stats that help explain:
- The CDC states that excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost each year in the United States from 2006 – 2010, shortening the lives of those who died by an average of 30 years.
- Every day another 29 people die from drunk driving accidents according to Madd.org
Understand the reality: Life insurance underwriting is about the cold hard facts. They have 1 job. That job is to judge risk for applicants and assign the appropriate rates you pay.
On its own, alcoholism is not a condition that is normally fatal. However, it has been proven to lead to both medical conditions and behaviors that lead to a shortened life expectancy. This is why life insurance companies care about your alcohol history.
Medical conditions which affect life insurance rates that result from alcohol abuse:
- Gastrointestinal – hepatitis, pancreatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, gastrointestinal bleeding
- Cardiovascular – arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation, hypertension, cardiomyopathy, stroke
- Psychiatric –Depression, suicide, drug abuse, dementia
- Some forms of cancer
There are more, but you get the point. Increased risk for health conditions resulting from alcoholism may increase the life insurance rates you pay.
Hazardous situations and outcomes that are more likely as an alcoholic:
Bottom line: Alcohol abuse leads to health degradation and an increased chance of mortality due to poor choices. Insurance companies will consider these risks and charge higher premiums to account for them.
Recovering Alcoholic vs Current Alcoholic, What Is the Difference for My Premiums?
The Truth: If you are currently abusing alcohol, you’ll likely be denied for most life insurance policies.
No insurance company will want to take on the high risk of a current alcoholic. Your options are:
- Guaranteed issue policy that will be lower coverage at higher cost.
- Focus on getting sober and then re-apply once 2+ years of sobriety has passed.
Not an Alcoholic but Have Gone to Extremes a Few Times
How will it affect your premiums if you’ve only pushed the limits a few times?
It will depend on what happened those few times you pushed it.
When it won’t matter:
Had too many tequila shots at your birthday. Yelled at your best friend, stumbled home, don’t remember part of the evening and spent the next day hugging the toilet. While not a healthy practice, you avoided injury and nothing was documented that can prove your high alcohol consumption.
When it WILL matter:
Same birthday night with the tequila shots but a few different outcomes…
- Instead of your best friend, you yelled at cop in the street and were arrested for public intoxication.
- While stumbling home, you fell down a hill, broke your arm and were taken to the ER.
- Had to have your stomach pumped due to alcohol poisoning.
- Got in your car and were pulled over and for a DUI.
You drank the same amount in both scenarios but made some poor choices or just got unlucky. Regardless, there is a record now of your alcohol abuse and this may be of concern to life insurance underwriters.
This may have been the only time in your life that you had more than 1 beer but how are they to believe that?
Getting completely smashed the night before your life insurance medical exam would also NOT be a good idea. Even it’s the 1 night per year you cut loose, it will NOT look good to have alcohol in your blood on the test.
Insurers have to go by the data and statistics. Incidents such as these show a propensity to abuse alcohol. If you did it once, you are more likely to do it again and possibly be battling alcoholism.
If you do have a DUI or DWI on your record, please see our article on how DUI’s affect life insurance rates or give us a call with questions.
What Questions Will Be Asked About My History with Alcohol?
Specific to any history with alcohol, expect the following questions:
- Have you ever been treated for excessive alcohol use? When?
- Have you followed the prescribed treatment?
- Do you currently consume any alcohol? How much
- If you longer drink, when was the last time?
- Have you ever been arrested for a DUI or DWI?
- Any relapses during your sobriety?
- Have you attended Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or similar programs?
- Legal issues (public intoxication, etc)
- Tobacco use of any kind?
- History of other drug use
If you are working with a knowledgeable independent life insurance broker, they will prepare for these questions AHEAD of time. If they don’t, run and find somebody else you trust.
Be completely honest and upfront with you broker. Surprises that come up later can only hurt you. The more we know at the beginning, the better off you will be.
What Will They Look for Related to Alcoholism If I Take a Medical Exam?
If you choose a no medical exam policy, you will pay a little higher but can skip the exam. This does not mean your medical history will be hidden. All of the same items below will be reviewed in your records and physician’s notes.
Liver Function Test
This test will be done by looking at your blood samples.
Since the liver plays a big part in expelling the toxins in alcohol, an overtaxed liver can be a sign of excessive alcohol consumption. Life insurance companies will look for any abnormalities.
One part of the liver function test is referred to as the Carbohydrate Deficient Transferrin (CDT) test. It tests for a type of protein that prevents cirrhosis. The CDT test relates to the regular and prolonged consumption of large quantities of alcohol. One single heavy episode of drinking does not elevate the CDT.
Normal %CDT levels for responsible drinkers will be less than 1.7%.
%CDT levels may take 1-2 months of abstinence from alcohol to return to normal levels. If you are planning to take a medical exam and have recently quit drinking, it may be in your best interest to wait a couple months.
This does NOT, however, mean you can hide any alcohol history. Good results on the exam can only help you though.
GGT – Alcohol Marker
Another form of the liver function test is the GGT (gamma glutamyl transpeptidase) which is what is known as an “alcohol marker”. Levels can be elevated by those who regularly consume large amounts of alcohol or other substances that are toxic to the liver.
Normal range of GGT is 0-45 U/L
What happens if either of my levels come back too high?
It doesn’t necessarily mean you are classified as a heavy drinker. The insurance underwriters will want to look deeper and understand why these levels are high. If there is a perfectly good medical reason for the levels being, high not related to alcohol abuse, you are fine, with regards to drinking.
HOWEVER, the underlying issue will need to be looked at separately and could result in higher premiums.
The 5-Year Rule as It’s Relates to Life Insurance and Alcohol Abuse
With just about anything, the further in the past, the better you will be viewed by the insurers. They want to see that you are healthy and have built a track record over time.
This gives the carriers more confidence that the changes will stick and therefore, more access to lower premiums for you. Alcohol abuse and life insurance are certainly no different.
In fact, when it comes to excessive alcohol consumption, the timing is EXTREMELY important to underwriters. It will play a large part in your approval/denial and the rate you pay.
Around 90% of alcoholics will have at least one relapse in the four years following treatment.
Insurance companies know these stats so expect them to approach things VERY cautiously during those first 5 years. This is not to say you can’t get approved in under 5 years, just expect it to be tougher and expect to pay more.
After 5 years of sobriety, things open up a bit. The further in the rear view mirror you put your problems with drinking, the less concerned the underwriters will be. We have placed clients as high as the Standard rate class once 5 years has gone by. Even higher towards the 8-10 year mark.
What if I’m sober but it hasn’t been 5 years yet?
Talk to an experienced independent life insurance broker about your options now.
Here is what can happen if you try to “wait it out”
- You could relapse – This will start a new 5-year clock.
- You could die – You have decided you need life insurance coverage. Waiting to save a few bucks will not matter if something unfortunate happens to you before that 5-year mark.
- Your health could decline – Unrelated to alcohol, you may develop another condition that forces life insurers to consider you “high risk”
- You will pay more for the increased age – Even assuming everything else goes smoothly, rates increase each year older you get. You lock in the rate for the entire term based on the age of application.
Our Advice: Get approved for coverage now, whatever you can afford. Once 5 years have passed, you can submit what is known as a “reconsideration request”. If approved, the insurer will lower your rates based on your current situation and increased sobriety time.
At the same time, have your broker be constantly shopping you to other insurance companies who may be more favorable. The great thing about term life insurance is you can quit at any time. If there is something better down the road, you can switch over to it.
Feeling overwhelmed or just sick of reading? We can cut through the noise quickly. Life insurance is all we do, all day long. It’s our job to stay on top of this for our clients. Drop us a line if you have questions.
What Health Class Rating Will I Get?
Not all alcohol abuse is the same and situations will need to be examined individually to provide YOUR answer.
What we’ll do here is talk about some general guidelines we’ve seen. These are based on our clients experiences and our relationships with the life insurance underwriters.
Limit pusher or problem drinker
This type of person has not been classified as an alcoholic. They do have some things in their history related to excessive alcohol consumption that will “worry” the underwriters.
Depending on your history, the frequency, and the recency, expect table ratings from 1 to 5 if any of these instances occurred in the last 2-3 years. Table ratings are “substandard” risk classes that will cost more than Standard rates. See our article on table ratings for more information.
Longer than 3 years and the impact should be minimal provided no further documented incidents. You can qualify for Preferred rates depending on your overall heath.
How long you have been sober is the leading factor here.
Under 2 years – Decline or postponement. A postponement means “check back with us later”
Over 2 years but under 5 years – Table ratings 1 to 10
Over 5 years – Table 3 up to Standard
Over 10 years – Preferred rates may be possible with some carriers
Any other medical issues or hazardous lifestyle choices will need to be considered separately.
How Much Will My Premiums Be?
The premium you pay is based on:
- Your age
- Your sex
- Amount of life insurance coverage you want
- Length of term you want
- Medical history
- Lifestyle or occupational risks
History with alcohol will factor into the amount of premiums you pay.
We can’t possibly list all the possible combinations here. The below are sample rates base on the table ratings we discussed in the above section on health class ratings.
Sample rates for a 42-year-old male nonsmoker on a 20-year term
|Health Class Rating||$250,000||$500,000||$750,000|
|Standard||$39.72 per month||$73.41 per month||$106.09 per month|
|Table 1||$41.76 per month||$77.44 per month||$113.39 per month|
|Table 3||$56.25 per month||$106.20 per month||$156.53 per month|
|Table 5||$70.74 per month||$134.96 per month||$199.67 per month|
|Table 7||$85.22 per month||$163.72 per month||$242.82 per month|
|Table 8||$92.47 per month||$178.10 per month||$264.39 per month|
As you can see, the health class you end up will matter a TON for how much you pay in life insurance premiums.
This is why it’s so important to apply at the right insurance company for your specific situation. Don’t run to the company that advertises the lowest rates. If they don’t view your history of alcohol favorably, it’s not the right company for you.
Best Life Insurance Companies to Apply at for Recovering Alcoholics
I’m NOT a believer in hiding information and tricking you into working with us.
If you take a look at any of our other articles on life insurance topics, you will see I openly reveal the best companies for specific conditions where applicable.
That being said…..getting life insurance with a history of alcohol abuse can be tricky. There just aren’t any “go-to” insurers. If anyone tells you there are, please be careful, they might be tied to that particular company in some way and that is NOT in your best interest.
We really need to look at your individual situation and then shop you to multiple companies to see who responds the most favorably. Working directly with the underwriters allows us to get pre-approvals before even going through the formal application process.
If you are serious about finding affordable life insurance with alcohol abuse in your history, we can help.
There is NO reason to go it alone vs the big insurance companies.
The secret to finding the best coverage is:
- Knowing all the insurance carriers underwriting guidelines, inside and out.
- Working directly with the underwriters.
We know exactly how to do this. We can help if you are ready. There is NO cost to use our service and life insurance is all we sell. It’s our business to stay on top of everything.
We welcome the opportunity to have a no pressure chat about your options.
I hope your day is going well.
If you or your loved ones are struggling currently with alcoholism, there are people that want to help you
National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism