Life Insurance For People With a History of Drug Use In 2024

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Written by
Bob Phillips
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If you have a history of drug use and are wondering if you qualify for life insurance, the answer is yes.

The world of insurance, with its unfamiliar words, can be bewildering. Throw in some medical terms and you might feel as though it’s a foreign language. We’re here to help. We’ve done extensive research on the topic of life insurance for individuals with a history of drug use, and collated the results into information that should be of assistance to you.

Medical advances, combined with a better understanding of drug use, has shifted the landscape of life insurance. Nowadays, instead of being denied insurance coverage, more people with drug use in their medical records are able to find insurance carriers willing to issue the life insurance they need.

We’ll give you a few tips about how to qualify for life insurance with a history of drug use, along with pointers about coverage details, and more. Our aim is to offer guidance to anyone who could use a helping hand in selecting the best life insurance for their individual needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Underwriting for drug use might be more complex and in-depth than for standard applicants

  • Life insurance rates are sometimes higher if you have a history of drug use

  • Life insurance for individuals with drug use in their background is available but might be more costly

Can You Get Life Insurance With Drug Use?

Yes, you can. Much depends on the extent of your drug use as well as the type of drugs.

Until modern medicine learned more about drugs, many people with drug use were declined for insurance coverage. These days, however, due to the advancement of medical knowledge, people with a history of past drug use are able to purchase life insurance. Many insurance companies offer term life insurance and whole life insurance coverage, as well, for those with a history of drug use.

While it’s encouraging that life insurance is more readily available nowadays for most individuals with past or current drug use, the fact is that not all insurers offer this coverage, and some that do offer it may not approve your application for coverage. But a lot of insurance providers have recognized the need for life insurance to cover people with drug use.

Life insurance for those with a history of drug use might be higher priced than standard issue, based 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 doctor’s orders and recommendations, too.

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

How Does Drug Use Affect Life Insurance Eligibility?

A history of drug use doesn’t mean that you can’t secure life insurance.

Past drug use is a lot like having other medical conditions: Your future health is largely up to you and how well you follow medical advice.

For instance, if you have a record of drug use but have been clean and drug-free for a  period of time, you will find it easier to get life insurance. Being aware of this and proactive about your health and wellness by avoiding any future drug use, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, could help in getting your life insurance application approved.

If the insurance underwriter sees that you’re  avoiding drug use and doing what you need to do to stay healthy, it will be a big point in your favor.

You should know that if you had life insurance in force before drug use, your premiums might be raised the next time your policy renews.

Traditional life insurance might be unavailable to individuals with drug use, depending on several factors. But, there are providers available that offer insurance designed for special health conditions and drug use. These  providers may offer traditional life insurance to applicants with past drug use, especially if they can show that it is no longer a problem.

You might 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 lingo, but the security, financial  protection and peace of mind these policies provide is worth its weight in gold.

People with past drug use who had life insurance in force before they developed a drug problem cannot have their policy canceled because of the diagnosis. This emphasizes how important it is to get life insurance coverage as soon as possible.

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

Life Insurance Underwriting Process For drug use

A basic knowledge of insurance underwriting could be helpful if you’re looking around for life insurance and have a past history of drug use. Here are 5 steps in the underwriting process:

  1. Medical Examination: A medical exam is the first step in underwriting. It will help the underwriter decide whether your application for coverage will be approved, or not. You’ll begin the process with a physical exam, during which the underwriter will 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 insurance underwriter. The underwriter will want to know what kind of  treatment you’re receiving or have received, as well as how your drug use has responded to treatment.
  3. Lifestyle Evaluation: Your lifestyle choices will be crucial to the underwriter. This means that habits like smoking, alcohol consumption and drug use will have to be disclosed. Please try and put your best foot forward. A healthy lifestyle could have a favorable influence on your application for coverage being approved.
  4. Risk Assessment: The underwriter will review all of your information, including the results of your physical examination, and make a risk assessment based on all of this information combined. The insurer wants to know how much risk they will incur if they issue life insurance to you. If you are 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 exclusions.

What Do Life Insurance Companies Consider When Someone With Drug Use Applies For Coverage?

When you make an application for life insurance, you will be asked questions pertaining to your health and lifestyle, including current and past alcohol and/or drug use. You may have to undergo a medical exam, also, where you will be tested for drugs, nicotine, and alcohol use. If you don’t have a past history of substance abuse and only use marijuana or alcohol recreationally, you’ll usually be able to get the coverage you need.

However, if you’ve abused alcohol or drugs in the past, you might not qualify for traditional life insurance policies until you have been drug-free or out of rehabilitation for at least 2-3  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 you may pay higher premiums than someone without drug use, but you should be able to secure competitive rates with a variety of insurance carriers. This will be dependent on the type of drug use along with other factors.

When people with past drug use apply for life insurance, there are multiple factors that underwriters will take into consideration. Life insurance for applicants with drug use in their background is more complex than for someone with no record of drug use.

The first thing an insurance underwriter is likely 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 drug use, and treatments, if any. If your medical history shows that your condition is stable with no drugs currently in your system, it might increase your chances of approval 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 used drugs in the past, a healthy lifestyle in the present will have a favorable effect on your application. Your age, gender, and family medical history will all be considered, as well.

The most important factor if you have a history of drug use is that when it comes to purchasing life insurance, it must be under control. Your current health conditions, future prognosis, and diagnostic tests all play a role in whether or not a provider will approve your application for life insurance.

The substances that life insurance drug tests can detect include:

  • Marijuana
  • Amphetamines/methamphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Barbiturates
  • Opiates
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Methadone

In addition, the blood and urine tests that are part of your medical examination will test for signs of alcohol and/or tobacco use.

As long as your drug use is a thing of the past and not affecting your current good health in any way, you shouldn’t have a big problem getting life insurance.

Best Type Of Life Insurance For Drug Use

Which types of life insurance are open to you if you have a history of drug use? Here are 5 types that are likely to be offered:

Whole Life Insurance

Whole life insurance is exactly what it sounds like: life insurance for your whole life. Coverage for your entire lifetime is what you get. This type of coverage includes the bonus benefit of building a cash value that will increase over time. Whole life insurance could be a wise choice for anyone with drug use in their background as it has a guaranteed death benefit.

Another point in its favor is that your coverage never expires. Whole life insurance usually has higher rates than term life insurance, but it may still be the right choice for your particular circumstances.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance provides insurance coverage for a specified length of time, usually between 10-35 years. The rates are considerably lower than those of whole life insurance, making it an attractive option for someone with a past history of drug use  who is now shopping for adequate, cost conscious life insurance coverage.

Final Expense Life Insurance

Final expense life insurance, frequently referred to as burial or funeral insurance, is designed to provide benefits for end-of-life expenses. Final expense policies typically have more lenient underwriting than most other types, which could be a good thing for someone with past drug use who is having problems getting approved for traditional life insurance.

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

Guaranteed issue life insurance provides coverage to pretty much anyone, regardless of  health conditions. It could be a desirable option for someone with a past record of drug use who has been denied coverage by other insurance providers. This type of policy is usually more costly than some types,, but if you’ve been declined for coverage by other insurers, it might be well worth the higher rates.

A guaranteed issue life insurance policy could have a Graded Death Benefit. This means that if you have a history of drug use, your policy will not cover any health problems related to that condition for a period of time, normally two years. You might have coverage for accidental death with this type of insurance, too.

Group Life Insurance

Group life insurance is usually offered through the workplace and other groups or organizations. For those with drug use in their backgrounds that have this option available, you should probably take advantage of it. Group insurance is an excellent way to get life insurance coverage without the complex underwriting often involved in traditional policies. You might not even have to undergo a physical exam.

Important: Living benefit riders can also be a lifeline for drug use. 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 If You Have a History of Drug Use

Following these 4 steps will help you get life insurance if you have a record of drug use:

Research Your Options

Your first step should be to find a few leading insurance carriers that offer coverage to people with drug use in their past. Some insurers offer term insurance in addition to whole life insurance. You need to know the differences between the two types before making a purchasing decision.


Understand the Underwriting Process

Most life insurance applications will require access to your medical history. The underwriting process if you have drug use in your records is likely to be more in-depth than standard, and could also mean increased premiums.


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 drug use and alcohol. 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 best for you, move on to completing and submitting your application. This may involve a lengthy health questionnaire, as well as a medical exam.


How Much Does Life Insurance Cost For Those With a History of Drug Use?

If you are living with a past history of drug use the rates you pay may vary, depending on several factors. If you are a current marijuana user, your rates will depend on how often you use it.

20 year term life insurance rates for marijuana users:

Age Gender Uses marijuana 2 x yearly Uses marijuana 3-4 x monthly Uses marijuana daily
25 Female $17.62 $20.92 $67.94
Male $21.43 $26.97 $80.11
35 Female $20.85 $25.54 $86.75
Male $24.65 $30.50 $97.83
45 Female $41.35 $48.12 $111.04
Male $51.72 $61.18 $144.22
55 Female $95.48 $110.52 $222.50
Male $130.68 $152.60 $330.17

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

If you have a record of past drug use, a favorable application could be helpful when you’re trying to secure life insurance. Try to show the underwriter that you’re doing well with your drug use all in the past, that you’re compliant with keeping doctors’ appointments and following recommendations for staying drug-free and healthy, living a healthy lifestyle, and so on.

Can Insurance Companies Deny Coverage To Someone With Drug Use?

Yes, an insurance company can deny an application for life insurance. One point that could make an insurance provider decide that you are too high-risk is if your drug use is current.

Medicine has made great strides in the treatment and understanding of drug use. In addition to adding to life expectancy for many people, it means a shift in the way some insurance providers view the insurability of an individual with past drug use.

The key factor in whether an insurance provider approves a life insurance application or not, and how high the premiums will be, is how the person with a history of drug use is doing on a day-to-day basis. The longer it has been since any problems related to the drug use, the better chance that you’ll be approved for coverage.

Many companies require that a person must be drug free for 2-5 years, or even 10 years if the applicant was using hard drugs like heroin.

What Will Insurers Ask About Drug Use?

There are likely to be several questions asked by the insurer when a person with a past history of drug use makes an application for life insurance coverage.

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

  • Did you receive inpatient or outpatient treatment related to drug use? If so, for how long
  • What types of drugs have you used?
  • After quitting the use of drugs, did you ever relapse? If so, how many times?
  • Were you ever hospitalized because of your drug use?
  • What was the date of your last treatment, if any?
  • Do you now have medical issues related to your drug use?

With a history of drug use in your medical records, insurance companies will invariably ask specific questions about the use of illegal substances when you apply for life insurance coverage. In addition, the medical examination that is a standard part of the application process will include blood and urine tests, which will be tested for the presence of substance use.

If you’re currently using illegal drugs, you may as well expect an automatic denial of your application for term or whole life insurance. If you have been prescribed medical marijuana, it will not disqualify you for life insurance or health insurance for many companies, but it probably won’t be covered.

Here are some facts about marijuana if you’re curious:

  • Marijuana use does not affect health insurance rates but is not usually covered
  • Life insurance rates are probably going to be higher for medical marijuana users
  • 36 states and 4 territories have allowed use of medical marijuana
  • At the federal level, marijuana continues to be considered a Schedule 1 drug

Life Insurance Options If You Are Denied Coverage Due to Drug Use

Insurance companies may decline approval of coverage for drug use. If you’re currently using drugs, you will certainly be denied coverage. But, in that event, you’ll still have options open for securing life insurance.

Guaranteed Issue policies are a possible option if you have past drug use and have been declined for traditional life insurance.

Group life insurance, by way of an employer or other organization, offers coverage regardless of whatever health conditions you might have. If you’re not making any progress getting life insurance, check out specialized services on the internet like Insuranceopedia that can help you find the coverage you need.

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 need more than just a half-formed idea of how much life insurance you should buy. Many people use the DIME method to calculate how much life insurance it will take to cover necessary expenses if you’re no longer around.

The DIME method is a way of calculating how much your life insurance death benefit should be. It takes into account 4 key 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 demise.
  2. Income: If you’re buying life insurance, you need to allow for enough coverage to replace your income for however many years you think it will be necessary. For instance, if your spouse and children would rely on your $50,000 annual income for fifteen more years, then $750,000 in coverage would be the amount of coverage needed.
  3. Mortgage: Many people want family members to stay in the family home. So the mortgage balance will have to be considered and factored into the amount of life insurance purchased.
  4. Education: Education can be extremely expensive. To ensure your children get a good education, you might calculate how high educational costs would be for school and college, and then add that amount to the death benefit of your life insurance policy.

Explore Policy Types: Take a look at Graded Death Benefit policies and Guaranteed Issue life insurance. Each of these types are excellent options for people with drug use that are having problems securing life insurance.

Use Specialized Services: Check out services such as Insuranceopedia. This online service obtains quotes from different providers and compares rates to help you get life insurance that is not only affordable but adequate for your needs, also.

What Is Drug Use?

Drug use applies to the usage of any type of non-prescription drug or a prescription drug that wasn’t prescribed specifically for you. In other words, uppers or downers or any other prescription medication with street value and sold by illegal pill pushers are not drugs that an insurance company would overlook if you applied for coverage.

It’s important to note that drug use and drug abuse are two different things. A person might indulge in an alcoholic drink or two occasionally, or smoke marijuana every once in a while, or smoke a cigarette from time to time. This is technically drug use, but it is not drug abuse. There’s a big difference.

With drug abuse, the drug has become an addiction that the user literally can’t live without. Some illegal drugs have such a harmful withdrawal when the drug is abruptly stopped that it can lead to heart failure and death.

When you make an application for life insurance, you’ll be asked some questions about your health and lifestyle, which will include current and past alcohol and/or drug use. You may also be required to undergo a medical exam, where you’ll be tested for drug, alcohol, and nicotine use. If you don’t have a history of substance abuse and only use alcohol or marijuana recreationally, you’ll usually be able to get coverage.

However, if you have abused drugs or alcohol in your past, you may not be able to qualify for traditional life insurance coverage, at least until you’ve been drug-free or out of rehab for at least 2-3 years, maybe longer. Different providers have different rules and guidelines, so much will depend on the insurer.

Other Health Concerns That Can Affect Your Life Insurance

When you apply for life insurance, providers will ask about any conditions that might have an effect on your approval or the cost of your premiums for life insurance. Here are some examples:

  • Asthma: Based on its severity, asthma could impact insurance rates
  • Alzheimer’s/Dementia: These conditions may have a sizable effect on insurability
  • Lung Disease: Chronic conditions such as COPD may cause higher premiums
  • Heart Disease: A common and serious health condition that may cause higher premiums or possibly denial of coverage
  • Liver Disease: Conditions such as cirrhosis of the liver could impact your life insurance policy as well as premiums
  • Substance Use Disorders: A history of alcohol or drug abuse will probably affect insurability
  • High Blood Pressure: Well-controlled hypertension might have a negligent effect on your life insurance coverage or premiums
  • Kidney Disease: Chronic kidney disease can raise your insurance premiums
  • Cancer: Depending on the stage and type of cancer, a diagnosis can affect insurability
  • 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
  • Obesity: A higher than ideal BMI can cause higher insurance premiums
  • Stroke: A history of stroke may affect insurance rates


Can Someone With Drug Use Qualify For Life Insurance?

That depends. If the person used drugs in the past but has been clean for at least two years, and is in overall good health, chances are they can be approved for life insurance. However, if their lab tests conducted as part of the qualifying medical exam show drugs currently in their blood or urine, then the answer is no.

What Insurance Is Best For Someone With a History of Drug Use?

Much of this is dependent on what type of drugs a person 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.

In that case, a past drug user might qualify for traditional life insurance. If they don’t, then they can look into guaranteed issues, group insurance, term life and several other types.

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

No, drug use is not considered a critical illness.

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