Life Insurance For Recovering Alcoholics 2024

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Updated: 17 May 2024
Written by Bob Phillips
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Alcoholics and recovering alcoholics may be wondering if they can secure life insurance. If this is you, you’ll be glad to hear that the answer is yes.

The insurance world with its unfamiliar terms can be mystifying. Throw some medical lingo into the mix and you may feel like you’re trying to read a foreign language. We’re here for you! We’ve conducted in-depth research on the subject of life insurance for alcoholics, and gathered the results into information that will hopefully be of assistance to you.

Medical progress combined with a greater knowledge about alcoholics has altered the landscape of life insurance. Now, instead of being flatly denied insurance coverage, more alcoholics and recovering alcoholics can  find insurance carriers willing to offer the life insurance needed.

We’ll give you a few tips about how to qualify for life insurance for alcoholics, as well as pointers about coverage details, and more. Our mission is to offer guidance to anyone who needs a helping hand to choose the best life insurance for their particular needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Life insurance rates are sometimes higher for alcoholics

  • Life insurance for alcoholics is available but might be more expensive

  • Underwriting for alcoholics might be more complex than for standard applicants

Can Alcoholics Get Life Insurance?

The short answer is yes, they can, with some qualifiers. A lot depends on the extent of the drinking. Until modern medicine learned more about alcoholism, the majority of alcoholics were denied insurance coverage. These days, though, because of the strides made in the field of medical knowledge, alcoholics and recovering alcoholics are able to secure life insurance. Quite a few insurance companies offer term life insurance along with whole life insurance coverage to alcoholics.

While it’s a positive note that life insurance is available these days for most past or current alcoholics, the fact is that not all providers will offer this coverage, and some that do offer it still may not approve your application for coverage. Approval of alcoholics with some insurance companies is on a case-by-case basis. However, numerous insurance providers have recognized the need for life insurance to cover alcoholics, and are filling that need.

Life insurance for alcoholics could have higher rates than standard issue, depending on multiple factors such as: your medical history, your lifestyle, and your family medical history, among other things. One element that will be looked at carefully is how compliant you are with showing up for doctor’s appointments and following your physician’s orders and recommendations.

Important: Life insurance for alcoholics is available, though the coverage might be limited and potentially more expensive.

Is Life Insurance Eligibility Affected For Alcoholics?

Past or current alcoholics can certainly purchase life insurance. For recovering alcoholics who no longer abuse alcohol, it’s much like having other medical conditions: your health and future prognosis is largely up to you  and will depend heavily on how well you follow medical advice, along with other factors such as a healthy lifestyle and of course not falling off the wagon.

For example, if you have a record of alcohol abuse but have been clean and sober for a  reasonable length of time—generally at least two years—you’ll find it easier to get life insurance. Being aware of this situation and staying proactive about your health and wellness by avoiding any future drinking, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, could help immensely in getting approval on your life insurance application.

If the insurance underwriter sees that you’re abstaining from alcohol use and doing what you need to do to stay healthy, it will be a significant point in your favor. You should know that if alcoholics have life insurance in effect before developing a drinking problem, your premiums may be raised upon your next policy renewal.

Traditional life insurance might be unavailable to alcoholics, depending on several factors. But, not to worry, there are insurers that offer insurance designed for special health conditions and alcoholics. These providers may offer traditional life insurance to applicants who are recovering alcoholics, especially if the applicant can show that alcohol is no longer a problem.

You may be approved for group or guaranteed issue life insurance. For example, if you have group health insurance through your employer or organization, you can probably get life insurance, also.

Doing some research about how purchasing life insurance actually works could expedite your search for the best coverage. It might not be easy to navigate through all of the unfamiliar insurance speak, but the peace of mind, security, and financial  protection  these policies provide is priceless.

Past alcoholics who had life insurance in force before they developed a drinking problem cannot have their policy canceled because of the alcoholism. This highlights how important it is to go ahead and secure life insurance coverage as soon as possible.

Important: A life insurance policy can’t be rescinded or have the rates raised if your  alcoholics occur after the policy has been issued.

Life Insurance Underwriting Process For Alcoholics

If you have a history of alcohol abuse, life insurance companies will be extra cautious about insuring you. Most providers won’t offer coverage for alcoholics until they’ve been sober for three years, and even then, the rates you pay will be far more costly than if you weren’t a recovering alcoholic..

The insurance underwriter will ask you for full details regarding your alcoholism and recovery. This will include treatment you’ve had, if any. But after a period of time determined by the insurance provider, you can get life insurance coverage provided you’ve stayed sober. Recovering alcoholics can secure a life insurance policy to protect their families from a financial hardship in the event of their death:

An elementary knowledge of life insurance underwriting might be of assistance if you’re in the market for life insurance and have a past history of alcohol abuse. Here are 5 steps in the underwriting process for alcoholics:

  1. Medical Examination: A medical exam is the first step in underwriting for alcoholics and everyone else. It will help the underwriter determine whether or not your application for coverage will be approved. You’ll start the process with a physical examination, the purpose of which is to give the underwriter a chance to assess your condition, with the emphasis on your overall health.
  2. Review of Medical History: You’ll be asked to make your medical records available to the underwriter. The underwriter will also ask what kind of treatment you’re receiving or have received, along with how your alcoholism has responded to treatment, provided you’ve had any.
  3. Lifestyle Evaluation: Your lifestyle choices will be vitally important in the underwriting process. This means that habits such as alcohol consumption, smoking and drug use will have to be disclosed. Try and put your best foot forward as best you can. A healthy lifestyle could have a beneficial effect on your application being approved.
  4. Risk Assessment: The underwriter will review your information, including the results of your physical examination, and make a risk assessment based on all of the data combined. The insurer wants to know how much risk they’ll be incurring if they issue life insurance to you. If you’re approved for coverage, a positive assessment by the underwriter might get you a better rate on premiums.
  5. Policy Issuance: Once you’re finished with the underwriting process and haven’t been denied coverage, the insurance provider will probably offer you life insurance. Depending on the assessment made by the underwriter, your insurance policy could have higher premiums than standard, or possibly exclusions.

What Do Life Insurance Companies Consider When Alcoholics Apply For Coverage?

Alcohol is the third medical related cause of death in the U.S. About 95,000 people die from alcohol related deaths each year. This number includes 27,000 females and 68,000 males. Statistically, alcoholics are 120 times more likely to commit suicide than those who don’t have a dependency.

29% of all suicide victims in the United States had alcohol in their system. Suicide is prevalent among alcoholics and those who abuse alcohol, another tremendous risk for life insurance companies.

So, it’s easy to see why life insurance companies proceed with caution when it comes to taking a risk and insuring alcoholics.

If you are planning to apply for life insurance and drink a large amount of alcohol before it is all out of your system when going for your physical exam, your rates will be affected or your application will be declined. Your rates might increase depending on how much alcohol you drink and whether your current health is being affected.

Alcohol abuse will definitely affect your health classification, also known as your rate class. Your rate class determines the cost of your premiums if your application is approved. Life insurance for heavy drinkers is high risk because of the damage alcohol causes to a person’s health through the years.

Here are some conditions related to alcoholics that insurance companies will consider as risk factors:

  • Possible Onset of Diabetes
  • Pancreas Problems and Damage
  • Passing Out (blackouts)
  • Lack of Coordination
  • Slurring of Speech
  • Vision Problems
  • Becoming Addicted to Alcohol
  • Heart Destruction such as Heart Valves to Cardiomyopathy
  • Major Chronic Fatigue
  • Infertility for Women
  • Severe Liver Damage
  • Scary Hallucinations
  • Stomach Ulcers
  • Malnutrition from Not Eating a Healthy Diet
  • Alcohol Related Birth Defects in Babies Born to Alcoholic Mothers

When you make an application for life insurance with a history of alcoholism, you’ll be asked questions regarding your health and lifestyle, including current and past alcohol consumption. If you don’t drink alcohol currently and haven’t for at least a couple or three years, you’ll probably be able to get the coverage you need.

If you have abused alcohol in the past, you might not qualify for traditional life insurance policies until you have been alcohol-free or out of rehabilitation for at least two to three years, and possibly as long as 10 years. Insurers have their own set of rules and guidelines, so they differ accordingly.

It’s possible that recovering alcoholics may have to pay higher premiums than someone without a record of alcohol abuse, but you should be able to get competitive rates with a variety of insurance providers.

The first thing an insurance underwriter is probably going to ask about is how well your condition is managed. The underwriter will also inquire about any symptoms you might be having that are related to the past alcoholism, and treatments, if any.

If your medical history and medical exam for coverage shows that your condition is stable with no alcohol currently in your system, it could increase your chances of being approved for insurance coverage.

Your daily lifestyle plays an important part in underwriting. Insurance providers assess  your health and lifestyle habits, such as alcohol consumption, smoking, and drug use. Even if you have alcoholism in your past, a healthy lifestyle in the present will have a positive affect on your application. Your age, gender, and family medical history will be considered, also.

Best Type Of Life Insurance For Alcoholics

Here are 5 types of life insurance that are likely to be offered to alcoholics:

Whole Life Insurance

Whole life insurance is just that: life insurance for your whole life. Coverage for your entire lifetime is what you get, and it includes the bonus benefit of accumulating a cash value that will grow over time. Whole life insurance may be a wise choice for recovering alcoholics as it has a guaranteed death benefit.

Another point in its favor is that your coverage can never expire, except for non-payment. Whole life insurance typically has higher rates than term life, but it could still be the right choice for your  circumstances.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance provides insurance coverage for a specific length of time, usually between ten and thirty-five years. The rates are significantly lower than whole life insurance, making it an attractive choice for recovering alcoholics who want adequate, budget friendly life insurance.

Final Expense Life Insurance

Final expense life insurance, otherwise known as burial or funeral insurance, is designed  for end-of-life expenses. Final expense policies usually have more lenient underwriting than many other types, which may be good for recovering alcoholics who are having a hard time getting approved for traditional life insurance.

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

Guaranteed issue life insurance offers coverage to basically anyone, no matter what  health condition an applicant may have. It could be a desirable option for current or recovering alcoholics who have been declined for coverage by other insurance carriers. This type of policy is usually more pricey than some types, but if you have been declined for coverage by other insurers, it might be worth the increased rates.

A guaranteed issue life insurance policy could have a Graded Death Benefit. This means that for recovering alcoholics, your policy will not cover any health problems related to the alcoholism for a period of time, normally two or three years. You may have coverage for accidental death with this type of policy, also.

Group Life Insurance

Group life insurance is typically offered through the work place as well as other groups or organizations. For recovering alcoholics that have this option available, you should probably strongly consider it. Group insurance is a great way to get life insurance coverage without the complicated underwriting involved in traditional policies. You probably won’t even have to undergo a physical exam to be approved.

Important: Living benefit riders can also be a lifeline for alcoholics. These optional additions to your policy can allow you to access a portion of your death benefit while still alive to help cover treatment expenses.

How To Buy Life Insurance For Alcoholics

Following these four steps will help secure life insurance for alcoholics or recovering alcoholics:

Research Your Options

Your first step should be finding a few reputable insurance carriers that offer coverage to alcoholics and recovering alcoholics. Many insurers offer term insurance in addition to whole life insurance. You need to familiarize yourself with the differences between the two types before making a buying decision.


Understand the Underwriting Process

Most life insurance applications will require access to your medical history and records. The underwriting process for recovering alcoholics is probably going to be more complicated than standard, and might also mean increased rates.


Consider Employer or Group Coverage

If you have access to group life insurance, it will probably be your best choice. Group policies usually provide insurance coverage regardless of what health conditions a person has or has had in the past, including alcoholics. You may not even have to get a medical exam for group insurance.


Apply for Coverage

When you’ve made a decision about which insurer and life insurance product seems good for you, move on to complete and submit an application. This may involve a health questionnaire, as well as a medical exam.


How Much Does Life Insurance Cost For Those With a History of alcoholics? –

Rates for alcoholics can and do have a broad range simply because there are a variety of rating class tables they might fit. The tables determine rates on a case-by-case basis. The chart below shows standard rates for term life insurance, an option many recovering alcoholics choose.

Term Life Insurance Average Monthly Rates by Age & Gender

$100,000 Policy Male $100,000 Policy Female $250,000 Policy Male $250,000 Policy Female
25 $11.50 $10.45 $22.12 $13.04
30 $11.25 $10.10 $15.02 $13.08
35 $11.78 $10.05 $15.50 $13.20
40 $13.55 $11.10 $18.54 $15.18
45 $15.32 $13.78 $22.32 $20.55
50 $19.66 $17.48 $30.59 $27.78
55 $25.29 $21.33 $43.06 $34.48

Your rates will depend largely on the information the underwriter collects regarding your medical history, family health history, your lifestyle and so on. It will probably speed up the process of getting a decision about whether you’re approved for coverage if you take all of the information with you that will be requested by the  underwriter.

If you have a record of past alcohol abuse, a positive application might be helpful when you’re trying to be approved for life insurance. Do your best to show the underwriter that you’re doing well with your recovery, belong to support groups for alcoholics and attend meetings, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and committed to staying sober.

Can Insurance Companies Deny Coverage To Alcoholics?

Yes, absolutely. An insurance company can deny an application for life insurance whether it be current alcoholics or recovering alcoholics. A factor that could cause an insurer to decide you’re too high-risk is if your alcoholism is current.

Medicine has made huge advances in the treatment and knowledge of alcoholism. Besides adding to life expectancy for many people, it means a change in the way some providers view the insurability of those who are recovering alcoholics.

The key factor in whether an insurance provider approves a life insurance application, and how high the premiums will be, is how the person with a history of alcohol abuse is doing on a daily basis. The longer it has been since any problems related to the heavy drinking, the better chance you’ll be approved for coverage.

Many companies require that a person must be alcohol-free for 2-5 years, or even 10 years if the applicant had DUIs, was incarcerated for public inebriation and other such illegal stuff related to alcohol abuse.

What Will Insurers Ask Alcoholics?

There are likely to be several questions asked by the insurer when recovering alcoholics make an application for life insurance coverage.

Here are some of the questions the insurance company underwriter might ask during your application about past alcoholic use:

  • Have you ever gotten a DUI or been involved in an alcohol-related vehicle accident?
  • Do you hold a steady job? (The inability to hold down a job may go against you and lead to higher premium rate or decline of coverage)
  • Are you a part of a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous, or have you begun treatment for your alcoholism? Being part of a support group or initiating treatment may reduce your chance of a relapse and help secure a better premium rate.

With a history of alcohol abuse in your medical records, insurance providers will  ask specific questions about your use of alcohol when you apply for life insurance. Also, the medical examination that is a standard part of the application process will include blood and urine samples, which will be tested for the presence of alcohol and other substances.

Life Insurance Options If You Are Denied Coverage Due to alcoholics

Insurers might decline coverage for alcoholics or recovering. If you’re currently using alcohol excessively, you will almost certainly be turned down for traditional life insurance. If that happens, though, you’ll still have options for getting life insurance.

Guaranteed Issue policies are a possible option for recovering alcoholics that have been denied traditional life insurance.

Group life insurance, through your workplace or other organization, offers coverage no matter whatever your health conditions may be. If you’re not having any luck securing life insurance, take a look at specialized services online such as Insuranceopedia that can help you find coverage.

Important: Guaranteed issue policies are an excellent option if other companies have denied your application for whole, universal, or term life insurance policies.

Here are 3 tips that might help in your search for life insurance:

Know Your Needs: You’re going to need more than just a vague idea of how much life insurance you should purchase. A lot of people use the DIME method to figure how much life insurance it will take to cover your family’s expenses if you’re no longer around.

The DIME method is a way of calculating the amount of life insurance needed. It takes into account four main factors, as delineated by the acronym “DIME.” These factors are:

  1. Debt: Your existing debt should be calculated to see how much it would cost to repay the balance due after your death.
  2. Income: If you’re purchasing life insurance, you should allow for enough coverage to replace your income for however many years you think it will be necessary. For example, if your spouse and children would need to rely on your $50,000 annual income for fifteen more years, then $750,000 in coverage would be how much coverage would be needed just for that income.
  3. Mortgage: Most people want their family members to be able to stay in the family home. So the mortgage balance will need to be factored into the amount of life insurance needed.
  4. Education: Education can be expensive. To ensure that your children get a proper education, you might calculate how high educational costs would be for school and college, and then add that figure to the death benefit of your life insurance policy.

Explore Policy Types: Check out Graded Death Benefit policies and Guaranteed Issue life insurance. Both of these types are viable options for current or past alcoholics  having problems obtaining life insurance.

Use Specialized Services: Take a look at online services like Insuranceopedia. It   obtains quotes from various insurance providers and compares rates to help you get life insurance that’s affordable and adequate for your needs, as well.

What Are Alcoholics?

Alcoholism, now known as Alcohol Use Disorder, is a condition in which someone has a strong desire or even a physical need to use alcohol. Terms like “alcoholic” and “alcoholism” are increasingly seen as negative labels.

According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 15.1 million American adults (6.2 percent of the population) have an alcohol problem. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 3.3 million global deaths occur each year as a result of alcohol abuse.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) says that alcohol use disorder is “an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.”

Someone with this condition doesn’t know when or even how to call a stopping point to drinking. They think about alcohol a lot, and they are unable to control the amount they consume, even if it’s causing serious problems in their life.

Excessive or inappropriate consumption of alcohol isn’t the same as alcohol dependence.

Moderate alcohol consumption by itself doesn’t usually cause psychological or physical harm. But, if someone who enjoys social drinking increases their consumption by a significant amount, or regularly consumes more than the recommended amount, AUD may develop.

Other Health Concerns That Can Affect Your Life Insurance

When you make an application for life insurance, insurers will inquire about conditions that might have an effect on your approval or your rates for life insurance. Here are some examples:

  • Alzheimer’s/Dementia: These conditions may have an affect on insurability
  • Lung Disease: Chronic conditions such as COPD could cause higher premiums
  • Asthma: Based on severity, asthma may impact insurance rates
  • Heart Disease: A common and serious health condition that can cause higher premiums or maybe denial of coverage
  • Liver Disease: Conditions such as cirrhosis of the liver might impact your life insurance policy as well as premiums
  • Substance Use Disorders: A history of alcohol or drug abuse will usually affect insurability
  • High Blood Pressure: Well controlled hypertension may have a slight effect on life insurance premiums
  • Cancer: Based on the stage and type of cancer, diagnosis can impact insurability
  • Kidney Disease: Chronic kidney disease could increase your insurance premiums
  • Alcoholics: If alcoholism is such that it prevents someone from living a  regular life, insurance companies may not want to issue life insurance
  • AIDS: With progress in the medical field, many providers now offer life insurance policies to those with HIV
  • Obesity: A higher than ideal BMI can cause higher insurance premiums
  • Depression: Mental health conditions such as depression or PTSD may impact coverage
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: This chronic condition can lead to more expensive premiums
  • Diabetes: Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can raise your insurance rates
  • Stroke: A history of stroke may affect insurance rates


Can Alcoholics Qualify For Life Insurance?

That depends on several factors. If the person abused alcohol in the past but has maintained sobriety for at least two-three years, and is in overall good health, chances are they might be approved for life insurance. But, if their lab tests conducted as part of the qualifying medical exam show alcohol currently in their blood or urine, then they’ll likely be declined for coverage.

What Insurance Is Best For Alcoholics?

Much of this depends on alcohol someone was abusing and for how long. Also whether or not they completed a rehabilitation program, and are in good overall health currently, observing a healthy lifestyle and staying sober. In that event, a past alcoholic may qualify for traditional life insurance. If not, they can look into guaranteed issue, group insurance, term life and several other types.

Are People With Past Alcoholics Classed As Having a Critical Illness In Insurance?

No, alcoholics are not considered as having a critical illness.

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