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Life Insurance and Alcoholism

Researcher & Writer
April 07, 2020

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.

This article is written for recovering alcoholics looking to obtain life insurance. All too often individuals with a history of alcohol abuse trying to find life insurance will find that a lot of companies will have strict guidelines.

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.  

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 an “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.  

Insurance companies will 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 alcohol 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 the answer is  “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.

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Can I get life insurance with a history of alcohol abuse?

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.

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 may have to pay much more to get life insurance.

Typically most companies will use a 5-year rule when it comes to evaluating recovering alcoholics.  Typically after 5 years, the main determining factor on what rate one will receive reverts back to the actual health of the applicant.

Do I have to wait 5 years to get life insurance?

No, you don't have to wait 5 years to get life insurance coverage. You might still qualify for other types of life insurance that aren't a traditional life insurance policy. Or you could still qualify for more traditional life insurance, but have higher costs.

If you need life insurance now, you still have options.

Next steps

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.

You will want to know the best life insurance companies to apply with if you have a history with alcohol. Finding companies that are more lenient with their guidelines around alcohol can be beneficial for you.

Your best bet is to work with a life insurance agent. An agent can guide you towards the more lenient companies and help you find the right policy at a rate that won't break the bank.

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