If you have a history of alcohol abuse, life insurance companies will be cautious when insuring you. Most insurers won’t offer coverage until you’ve been sober for three years, and even then, the premiums you pay will be more expensive than if you didn’t have a history of alcoholism.
The insurance company will ask you for full details regarding your alcoholism and recovery, including any treatment you’ve had. But over time, you can get life insurance coverage. Here’s how recovering alcoholics can secure a life insurance policy to protect their loved ones.
Why does alcohol use affect the cost of life insurance?
Alcohol use makes you a riskier life insurance applicant because excessive drinking increases the chances you’ll injure yourself or others while intoxicated. It can also cause serious health issues, including: 
Weakened immune system
Even if you haven’t officially been treated for alcoholism, during the application process your insurance agent will ask you about your alcohol use. Excessive or binge drinking could be an issue for the insurer, which might affect your rates.
The CDC defines excessive drinking as binge drinking or heavy drinking:
Binge drinking: Four drinks (women) or five drinks (men) during a single occasion
Heavy drinking: Eight drinks (women) or 15 drinks (men) during a single occasion
If you’re considered a binge or heavy drinker, the insurance company may increase your premiums or deny your application until you show consistent, healthy use. If you have a recent DUI/DWI conviction on your motor vehicle report, it’ll be even harder to find life insurance coverage. Most providers won’t offer you a policy until at least five years after your conviction.
How do life insurance companies test for alcohol use?
If you have a few drinks per day, your insurer probably won’t be concerned about your alcohol consumption. Life insurance companies want to know if your drinking could cause health issues or dangerous behaviors.
During underwriting — the process during which the insurer evaluates your profile to determine how much you’ll pay for life insurance — you usually take a medical exam with routine blood and urine testing for substance abuse. You also share past medical records.
Blood tests will identify carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (%dCDT),  a common sign of heavy alcohol consumption — defined as about five drinks per day in this test — in the previous two weeks.
You’ll also be asked questions about whether you drink or use any other substances and how often. Other questions could include:
If you are not currently a drinker, when was the last time you consumed alcohol?
Do you have any history of excessive drinking?
Have you ever received alcohol-related counseling?
Have you participated in inpatient or outpatient alcohol treatment?
Have you been sober since your last treatment?
Have you ever had a DUI/DWI?
Answer these questions honestly. If you lie, your application could be declined due to insurance fraud and you may have trouble buying coverage in the future.
How does alcoholism affect your life insurance options?
If the insurer considers you high risk due to your history of alcohol use, you’ll receive a less favorable health class and higher premiums, but still be eligible for term life insurance. Term life insurance is the cheapest coverage option for most people.
These are the rates you can expect to receive depending on your history of alcoholism.
How much does life insurance for recovering alcoholics cost?
Here’s how much a 30-year-old might pay monthly for a $500,000, 20-year term life insurance policy in different health classifications.
Table 8 (Substandard)
Life insurance options for current alcoholics
If you currently have an alcohol addiction, you should seek treatment in addition to shopping for life insurance. Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous can provide support that will be valuable for your recovery.
At this time, you won’t be eligible for traditional life insurance, but you can still get coverage. These are your options.
Group life insurance: Many employers offer subsidized life insurance to employees that doesn’t require any health information for approval. Coverage may be limited and you’ll lose the policy if you change jobs, but it’s a great option to get some coverage in place.
Final expense insurance: It’s a type of permanent coverage aimed at paying for end-of-life expenses such as a funeral or medical bills. It doesn’t require a medical exam for approval and offers coverage up to $40,000 for those age 45 and older.
Reapply in the future: Insurers are more likely to consider you for their best rates after you’ve been sober for 10 or more years. You can shop for a new policy or ask for a rate reconsideration after you hit this milestone.
If you’ve dealt with alcoholism, buying life insurance can be more involved than it would be for someone with no addiction history, but it’s not impossible for you to get coverage.
It helps to know what challenges you might face. A Policygenius agent can help you find the best policy for your family’s needs.
Other health concerns that can affect your life insurance
Certain pre-existing conditions and other health-related concerns can affect your life insurance options or costs. A Policygenius expert can help you find the right policy for your needs.