Everyone has their vices, and many people fight hard to overcome them. Life insurance can be impacted by said vices, with smoking, drinking and eating badly leading to higher life insurance rates. The right life insurance company will get you the most affordable coverage, even after you’ve kicked your bad habits. When it comes to recovering alcoholics, your past can haunt you long after you’ve been sober, which is why it’s important to find the best life insurance company to help you get a policy.
The best life insurance companies for recovering alcoholics
Life insurance companies take alcohol abuse seriously (we’ll get to why in a bit). These companies are the best when it comes to accommodating you while shopping for life insurance. (Methodology below.)
Alcoholism & health issues
Alcoholism can take a toll on your health, which can impact your life insurance rates.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, excessive alcohol use can lead to increased risk of these health issues, to name a few:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver and colon cancer
- Depression and anxiety
- Liver disease
During the life insurance underwriting process, insurers check your current health and health history for these issues. For instance, the blood test will check for elevated levels of certain enzymes associated with liver disease and other health issues.
Applying for life insurance as a recovering alcoholic
If you’re struggling with alcohol you should seek help before thinking about buying life insurance. Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous can provide a valuable support group that will be valuable not only in life, but to your life insurance.
It’ll take longer to get affordable rates
During the underwriting process, life insurers look at how risky you are to insure, and assign you a classification accordingly. If there are prominent health issues like those described earlier, they will lower your classification. Combine that with a high recidivism rate – some sources say as many as 80% of recovering alcoholics relapse within the first year – and life insurers are wary of giving the best ratings.
Generally speaking, recovering alcoholics will find it hard to get coverage immediately after graduating a counseling program but will find better rates the further into recovery they get. For the first seven or so years after graduating a program, you can expect to be declined or table rated. (Table ratings are a collective group of sub-prime classifications. You can read more about table ratings and other classifications here.)
A standard classification is typically the best you’ll get starting around 5-6 years after rehab. Ten or more years out, depending on your overall health, lifestyle and the insurer you choose, you may be able to get a better classification – and lower rates. This is one of the reasons it’s important to use a life insurance broker that can shop your application around to different insurers: You never know who will get you the best deal on a policy.
No drinks allowed
One caveat to the above: All of the above is assuming total abstinence, and no drinks means no drinks. If you’ve graduated a counseling program but admit to having even an occasional drink, you’re likely to be declined outright. Of course, lying on your application can result in your policy being canceled, so don’t do that either. Your best option is to stay sober and lean on your support network when needed. It’s better for you, and ensures you won’t endanger the safety net you’re building for your loved ones.
Medical records mean a longer application process
The life insurance application process can take up to eight weeks, and a big chunk of that time is in getting an APS – an Attending Physician Statement. An APS is your health history as told by your doctor and gives the insurer a good look at your past. It can take a while for the insurer to get an APS since doctors are often busy.
Recovering alcoholics almost always have their medical records pulled. That means applicants can expect to be on the longer side of those eight weeks while the insurer waits for those records.
Drunken driving compounds the issue
An insurer will also get a motor vehicle report, or MVR. This is your consolidated driving record. Arrests for driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated are a problem for everyone, resulting in higher risk and higher rate, but alcoholics are more likely to have a DUI/DWI on their record. This can make a complicated rating process even more complex and add another layer of cost to your eventual policy.
Buying life insurance for recovering alcoholics can be more involved than the standard application, but it’s not impossible. The key is knowing what challenges you might face to set your expectations, and choose the company willing to work with you and get you the best rates possible.
Wondering which companies are best suited for other health scenarios? Check out our full list of the best life insurance companies here.
Methodology: The insurers above are rated by how likely they are to overlook the condition or trait in question when setting premiums. Excellent indicates rates are competitive; good indicates rates aren't affected; and fair indicates rates may be higher. For a full methodology on how we determine the best life insurance companies, go here.
Disclosure: PolicyGenius offers insurance policies from many of the nation’s top insurers, who pay us a commission for our services. However, all editorial choices are made independently.