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Life Insurance and Alcoholism

Researcher & Writer
February 06, 2015

Trying to find protection with a history of alcohol abuse can be a daunting task. Finding the best life insurance companies for a recovering alcoholic is going to depend on certain factors. At TermLife2Go we can help you cut through the red tape and find coverage despite your past history. We do this by being up to date on the various niches in the world of life insurance. Let us point you towards the most recovering alcoholic friendly life insurance company available.

Life Insurance with History of Alcohol Abuse

This article is written for recovering alcoholics looking to obtain life insurance. All too often client's with a history of alcohol abuse trying to find life insurance will find that a lot of carriers will have strict guidelines. Our job at TermLife2Go is to find the right fit for you based on your specific circumstances. We can place you with our key niche life insurance companies that cater to those in recovery.

Alcohol Treatment and Life Insurance

Life insurance and alcoholism are two subjects that do not mesh well together. Have you been told that you don’t qualify for life insurance because you have received treatment for alcohol abuse?  Or have you been approved for life insurance but the rate that you received as a recovering alcoholic was just too much for you to handle?

Well if so, you’ll definitely want to keep reading!

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Getting Life Insurance as a Recovering Alcoholic

By now you may have discovered that qualifying for life insurance with a history of alcohol abuse can be pretty difficult.  Which may see rather ironic due to the fact that a typically, an alcoholic’s overall health will generally  improve once they stop drinking alcohol!

The problem lies in that most insurance companies will want to see a successful “history of sobriety” prior to approving a recovering alcoholic for life insurance.

What Do Insurance Companies consider “Alcoholic?”

Companies most definitely want to know if clients ever struggled with alcoholism. In fact, when applying for a fully underwritten term or whole life insurance policy, you will be asked if you have ever had a “history” of alcohol abuse.  This question is left intentionally vague so that the answer of what qualifies as “history”, is left for the applicant to determine.  But remember, insurance companies are not simply going to rely on an applicant’s “good faith” when it comes time to determining if they want to move forward with an approval.

Insurance companies will also typically perform a medical exam whereby a blood sample will be taken.  This sample will be used to screen for a variety of different conditions such as diabetes, hepatitis, Aids, and particular alcohol makers that may be present in someone who regularly consumes large quantities of alcohol.

Lastly, the insurance company may also decide to look at an applicant’s medical records where a history of alcohol abuse may have been noted in the past.

When trying to determine what an insurance company considers “alcoholic”, that determination will usually be based upon:

  • Have you ever sought treatment for alcoholism?
  • Has your doctor ever recommended treatment for alcohol abuse?
  • Does your blood work indicate that you may have an issue with alcohol?

If you’ve answered “Yes” to any of these questions, then in the eyes of an insurance industry you’re probably going to be considered someone who has a history of alcohol abuse or what they would consider a "recovering alcoholic" if you are no longer using alcohol.

Nearly 4,000,000 People in the United States Seek Treatment each year. That’s right!  Nearly 4 million people in the United States seek some kind of treatment for a problem related to the use of alcohol and/or drugs, which according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Alcohol, leaves another 20 million people who need treatment but do not seek it out! Many of those people seeking treatment for alcoholism are also looking for life insurance.

With this amount of statistical data out there, the life insurance industry has had plenty of information to review when it comes to approving a life insurance policy for someone with a history of alcohol abuse. And the truth is,they haven’t liked what they’ve found when it comes to those recovering from alcohol.

So Can I Get Life Insurance with a history of alcohol abuse or not?

Short answer… Yes, you can get life insurance as a recovering alcoholic.

The trick to getting the best whole and term life insurance rates as a recovering alcoholic is (1) knowing which life insurance company to apply with and (2) avoiding some of the larger national insurance brokers who are unwilling to write what they consider to be a “High Risk Life Insurance" policy due to a client's past alcohol abuse.

What Does that Mean?

Applying for life insurance with a history of alcohol abuse or as a recovering alcoholic will become easier as you demonstrate that you have been successful at “beating” your addiction.

How can one demonstrate this? Easy---maintain your sobriety over time!

With that being said, if you are applying for life insurance with less than 5 years of sobriety, most insurance companies are going to continue to treat your application as a “High Risk”. What this means is that you may immediately be declined or you will be approved at what is called a “table rating.”

Let Us Explain:

When one applies for life insurance, what they are actually doing is applying for 1 of 16 different rate classes that an insurance company will use to determine if they wish to extend coverage to an individual.

The top 4 rate classes are Preferred Plus, Preferred, Standard Plus, and Standard.  Below a standard rate class is considered “high risk” and depending on who you apply with, this may mean that you will no longer be eligible for traditional term or whole life insurance coverage.

This is why recovering alcoholic needs to be particularly careful when applying for life insurance.

So when would a recovering alcoholic be able to get a standard rate or better rate on life insurance?

Typically most carries will use a 5 year rule when it comes to “discriminating against” recovering alcoholics.  After 5 years, the main determining factor on what rate one will receive reverts back to the actual health of the applicant.

OK, so I guess I should just wait 5 years then!

Not a good idea, and here’s why.

1).   You could actually DIE!

You could die during those five years leaving your loved ones with absolutely no life insurance protection in place.

2).  Your health could decline.

During the next 5 years, you could be diagnosed with some type of condition that could actually prevent you from qualifying  for for life insurance in the future, or simply make it too expensive for you to afford.

3).  If you wait 5 years, you’ll be 5 years older.

Age is typically the number one factor when it comes to determining what one will pay for their life insurance. So the savings that you may see by waiting 5 years to get a better rate may disappear due to the fact that your 5 years older.

4).  Lastly, you may not be healthy enough for the rate you want.

It’s possible that you may have some other risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood glucose readings, etc, that could make you a “high risk” applicant with or without a history of alcohol abuse!

So what should I do?

That really depends upon your situation, and without asking a few targeted questions, it’s really impossible to tell.

What remains certain is that those with a history of alcohol abuse could have a more difficult time qualifying for life insurance, which means that they’ll  need to really know where to look when trying to secure the best rate for themselves.

For this reason, there are a few things you should look for when it comes time to choose an agency that’s right for you!

1).  You’re going to need an agency writes policies with dozens of different insurance carriers.

If your agent only has a few insurance carriers to choose from when submitting your application, you may not be giving yourself the greatest opportunity for success. Plus, are you really “just trying to get approved”?  Or are you looking to get the “Best Possible Deal Out There”!

2).  Beware of the call center.

When you’re applying  for life insurance with an agent that is working in a call center your application is generally going to be 1 out of the 100 or so applicants that he or she needs to write that month so that they can “hit their numbers!”

Not exactly the position you want to be in if it turns out that your application needs some additional “TLC.”  After all, a typical call center insurance agent is expected to write 4 or 5 new policies each and every day.

And when a call center agent hears the word alcoholism and life insurance, their eyes immediately gloss over and they move on to the guaranteed issue burial insurance or accidental death sales script.

3).  Don’t just apply and take a medical exam.

Take your time, a true insurance professional should be able to send out multiple “pre-qual letters” to several different insurance carriers without actually submitting an application.

In these letters, they’ll be able to describe your situation and see if the insurance company will consider you an “acceptable” risk!

If done properly, provided there are no additional “surprises” during your life insurance medical exam, you should be able to feel pretty confident about being approved, even before you’ve applied!


For those who just don't want to speak with an insurance agent until they've at least had an opportunity to take a look at some "rates" first, we would recommend that you check out our page Instant Life Insurance Quotes which will allow you to see exactly what we see when we provide you with a quote from one of the companies that we work with.

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We are a team of life insurance experts with the simple mission of helping you find the best coverage for your unique situation. We research, review, and rank life insurance companies to make that process easier.