Given the fact that according to Project Know, Understanding Addiction, nearly 14 million adults in the US or one out of every 13 American’s have a problem with alcohol.
It shouldn’t be all that surprising that we get a lot of folks calling us asking about how their “alcoholism” will affect their chances at getting approved for life insurance.
This is why…
We wanted to take a moment and describe what the process is like for those applying for life insurance with a pre-existing history of alcoholism, as well as, describe how we here at JustBuryMe, do our very best to ensure that you can find a great life insurance policy despite being labeled an “alcoholic”.
So, with that being said, let’s dive right into it!
Helping those with a history of alcoholism find life insurance.
When it comes time to helping an alcoholic applicant or recovering alcoholic applicant find life insurance, the first that we need to know is:
“Is that applicant still using alcohol?”
We need to know the answer to this question early on because, to the best of our knowledge, if you have been diagnosed as an alcoholic and are currently using alcohol, you simply WILL NOT be eligible for a fully underwritten term or whole life insurance policy PERIOD!
However, there are plenty of simplified issue and guaranteed issue life insurance policies to choose from among the best final expense and burial insurance companies.
Now you may be asking yourself,
“How will the insurance companies know if I’ve been “diagnosed” an alcoholic, or even if I consider myself an alcoholic?”
The answer to this is both simple and complex.
You see, most life insurance applications are simply going to ask you if you:
“Do you drink alcohol?
“And if so, how much do you drink on a daily/weekly basis?”
Additionally, most life insurance applications are also going to ask about whether or not you’ve ever been admitted into a treatment facility for alcohol treatment and/or been advised by a physician to seek treatment.
So, the simple way insurance companies learn about your history of alcoholism is that they ask, and you tell them about it!
Plus it’s important to note that even if you think your drinking isn’t an issue, that doesn’t mean that the insurance companies won’t. But remember, the most important part here is that honesty is always the best policy!
Now “theoretically”, you could lie…
Which is something that we would HIGHLY DISCOURAGE you from doing for several reasons.
- First, you’ll probably get caught which will only make getting insured more difficult now and again in the future.
- And second, lying on your life insurance application could cause your life insurance policy to be VOIDED due to material misrepresentation (by you) at the time of your death, which would mean that your family wouldn’t receive the death benefit coverage that you sought out in the first place.
The more “complex ways” that an insurance company can and often do learn about one’s history of alcoholism will come from other components of the life insurance application.
Components such as:
- The results of the medical exam that you’ll likely have to take in order to be approved for a fully underwritten term or whole life insurance policy. Clues about your drinking can and will often be seen in the:
- High alcohol levels in your blood sample.
- Abnormalities within the actual blood sample which are often indicative of long term drinking (ie: abnormal platelet shapes).
- As well as elevated liver enzyme counts in both the blood and urine sample as well.
- Many life insurance applications will also require an applicant to submit their medical records to the insurance companies prior to being approved for coverage. So… if you’ve ever had a discussion with your doctor about your drinking, or if your doctor has ever advised you to stop or reduce your alcohol intake, there’s a very good chance that there will be a note of this conversation within your medical record with the insurance companies will certainly take into account.
- Your prescription medication history will also be reviewed as well. So if you’ve ever been prescribed a “anti-alcohol” medication such as Antabuse, Campral, or ReVia, insurance companies will see this which will be a HUGE red flag for any insurance underwriter, particularly if you’ve failed to mention any history of alcohol abuse within the actual written part of your life insurance application.
- Lastly, a DMV report will typically be ordered so if you have a history of a DUI or multiple DUI’s, this too may lead an insurance underwriter to begin wondering whether or not you have a history of alcohol abuse that you may have neglected to mention.
But let’s not get too depressed…
Remember, it’s our job here at JustBuryMe to help you find a policy that you can qualify for regardless of your current health situation or your current drinking habits.
So, let’s try to classify the typical alcoholic applicant into 3 different categories.
- Those who are currently still drinking.
- Those who have quit, but have less than 2 years of sobriety.
- And those who have over 2 years of sobriety.
We want to do this because this will help those understand how many life insurance companies will choose to underwrite an application of someone who has a history of alcoholism.
Alcoholics who are looking to buy life insurance, but continue to drink.
As we have mentioned above, to the best of our knowledge, if you have a history of alcoholism and are currently still using alcohol, you simply will not be eligible for a fully underwritten term or whole life insurance policy (life insurance policies that will require a medical exam).
Additionally, most if not all simplified issue life insurance policies that won’t require a medical exam will also ask questions about whether or not you consume alcohol and will typically also order a prescription database check as well.
In other words…
These companies are also going to want to avoid insuring anyone who “has a problem with alcohol” and is still using. Which is why we would certainly recommend that you don’t try to “fool” an insurance company by choosing a policy that does not require a medical exam, because these policies can also be VOIDED in the event that it is proven that you willfully and purposefully misrepresented your current health status.
So where does this leave us?
We’ll without getting into the numerous benefits an “alcoholic” applicant would see if they simply quit drinking and assume a sober lifestyle, there still are some options available to those who do not wish to quit drinking and still want to purchase a a final expense or burial life insurance policy.
The problem is that these types of policies will generally cost a bit more than traditional term or whole life insurance coverage, and they are going to max out at around $25,000 dollars in coverage.
These types of life insurance policies are called Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance Policies and will typically only have 2 requirements.
- First, you meet the required age requirement which is that you are currently between the ages of 40-85 (product may not be available in your state) at the time of purchasing your life insurance policy.
- Second, you are a US citizen.
Alcoholic applicants who have less than 2 years of sobriety.
First off, let’s us just take a moment to congratulate you on your success so far. Quitting alcohol is no easy accomplishment and is something that you should definitely be very proud of.
In fact, quitting is so difficult, most, if not all life insurance companies aren’t really going to be willing to accept traditional life insurance applications from a recovering alcoholic until they have at least 2 years of sobriety from the date of their last drink.
Additionally, if you have been prescribed any medications to treat your alcoholism, insurance companies would consider the last date you received/taken those medications and were completely treatment free (excluding on going AA meetings if applicable) as your true sobriety date.
Which leaves us with one of three options…
- If a $25,000 dollar life insurance policy will meet your needs, you can pursue a Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance Policy. See: Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance Policy – Pros and Cons – for more information.
- Another option you can pursue would be to do nothing and simply wait till you have 2 years of sobriety under your belt at which time you can pursue a fully underwritten term or whole life insurance policy (you will still need to be able to qualify for such a policy, only now, your alcohol use shouldn’t lead to an automatic decline).
- Lastly you can decide to purchase what is called an Accidental Death Insurance Policy and use it for the purpose of what we like to call a “bridge policy” until you have 2 years of sobriety at which point you may be eligible to purchase a fully underwritten term or whole.
Pros and Cons associated with an Accidental Death Policy.
Accidental death policies are insurance policies that are ONLY going to cover ACCIDENTAL causes of death. Causes such as:
- Slip and falls.
- Motor vehicle accidents.
- Victim of crime.
- Natural disasters.
Accidental death policies WILL NOT cover NATURAL causes of death. And for the purpose of this discussion here, this would include any cause of death due to illness. An illness such as:
- Heart disease.
The good news is that these policies are generally inexpensive and will provide some coverage vs doing nothing at all.
Is an accidental death insurance policy right for you?
Who knows? But for clients who don’t feel that they need this type of coverage, we’ll typically ask them this….
“Since you won’t be eligible for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy for the next year in a half or so… If you were to suddenly pass away in the next 2 years, do you think your death would be more likely caused by a heart attack, stroke or cancer? Or would it be due to a car crash?”
If you believe that you have a greater chance of dying from a car crash in the next 2 year’s vs a heart attack, you might want to consider buying an accidental death insurance policy and keeping it until you are eligible for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy.
However if you feel that you may actually die from a heart attack, stroke or cancer within the next two years, we would highly suggest that you see your doctor, and take all the necessary steps to improve your health!
But just remember if you do decide to purchase an Accidental death insurance policy, that’s all you have decided to purchase and you’ll definitely want to revisit your insurance needs a year or two from now when you’re eligible for a more traditional term or whole life insurance policy which will cover you for both accidental causes as well as natural causes of death!
Two years sober and counting!
Now for those of you who have been sober for 2 or more years, congratulations! You’ve hit a milestone when to comes to the insurance underwriting world.
In fact, you’ll now be considered “eligible” for qualifying for a traditional term and whole life insurance and “assuming” you have no other significant health or lifestyle risk factor, you should be able to qualify for coverage!
Which is great!
The key now is to be sure that we get a complete understanding of your overall health and lifestyle risk factors so that we can:
- Not only take a look at what prices will be like working with the most “alcoholic” friendly life insurance companies.
- But also, get an idea about how other factors on your life insurance application could affect the outcome of your policy.
Insurance companies aren’t only going to be interested in someone’s alcohol consumption, they’re also going to be interested in:
- Your age.
- Your height and weight.
- Whether or not you been diagnosed with any serious pre-existing medical conditions like cancer, heart disease, stroke or diabetes.
- Whether or not any of your immediate family members (mother, father brother or sister) have ever been diagnosed with cancer, heart disease, stroke or diabetes?
- What prescription medications are you taking now?
- Do you have any issues with your driving record?
- Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor?
- Do you have any set plans to travel outside the United States in the next 2 years?
- Do you have any set plans to participate in any danger activities such as hang gliding, bungee jumping or sky diving in the next 2 years?
- In the past 24 months have you declared or filed for bankruptcy? This is a weird one, but since one major life insurance company asks about it, we include in in our questioning so that we can eliminate them from consideration early on if this is an issue for you.
- Etc, etc…
From here, we’ll take all of this information and begin to analyze which “types” of life insurance policies you’ll have the best chances of qualifying for as well as, what “rate” you’ll likely receive.
We’ll also be looking at whom we feel will provide you with the best possible price for your insurance as well.
You see, here at JustBuryMe.com, since we are an independent insurance brokerage that is able to work with dozens of different life insurance companies, we’re able to simultaneously review dozens of different underwriting guidelines in an attempt to help you secure the best possible life insurance policy that you can qualify for!
So what are you waiting for? Give us a call today and see what we can do for you!
You may also be interested in reading one of our more popular article JustBuryMe’s Best Final Expense and Burial Insurance Companies.