Life insurance for recovering alcoholics

If you’re recovering from alcohol abuse, you’ll have to wait until you’ve been sober for three years to be approved for most life insurance policies.

Headshot of Tory Crowley
Headshot of Katherine Murbach

By

Tory CrowleyAssociate Editor & Licensed Life Insurance AgentTory Crowley is an associate life insurance and annuities editor and a licensed insurance agent at Policygenius. Previously, she worked directly with clients at Policygenius, advising nearly 3,000 of them on life insurance options. She has also worked at the Daily News and various nonprofit organizations.&Katherine MurbachEditor & Licensed Life Insurance AgentKatherine Murbach is a life insurance and annuities editor, licensed life insurance agent, and former sales associate at Policygenius. Previously, she wrote about life and disability insurance for 1752 Financial, and advised over 1,500 clients on their life insurance policies as a sales associate.

Edited by

Antonio Ruiz-CamachoAntonio Ruiz-CamachoAssociate Content DirectorAntonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.
|

Reviewed by

Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®Certified Financial PlannerIan Bloom, CFP®, RLP®, is a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius. Previously, he was a financial advisor at MetLife and MassMutual.

Updated|4 min read

Expert reviewedExpert reviewedThis article has been reviewed by a member of ourFinancial Review Council to ensure all sources, statistics, and claims meet the highest standard for accurate and unbiased advice.Learn more about oureditorial review process.

Policygenius content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity. Learn about our editorial standards and how we make money.

It’s possible to buy life insurance if you have a history of alcohol abuse. However, you’ll usually have to be sober for three years if you want to be approved for term or whole life insurance coverage — and you’ll have to pay higher premiums than someone without a history of alcoholism. 

When you apply, the insurance company will ask you for full details regarding your alcoholism and recovery, including any treatment you’ve had. The longer you’ve been sober, the more affordable your rates will be.

Key takeaways

  • Recovering alcoholics usually have to wait three years after their last drink to be approved for most term and whole life insurance options.

  • Proving that you’ve received treatment or counseling may help you get cheaper premiums.

  • If you have recent or multiple DUI convictions on your record, your life insurance application will be automatically declined.

Why does alcohol use affect the cost of life insurance?

Life insurance companies consider the use of alcohol an insurance risk because excessive drinking increases the chances you’ll injure yourself or others while intoxicated. Alcohol abuse can also cause serious health issues, including: [1]

  • Cancer

  • Depression and anxiety

  • Heart disease

  • High blood pressure

  • Liver disease

  • Stroke

  • 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 either binge drinking or heavy drinking: [2]

  • 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 a binge drinker or heavy drinker, the insurance company may increase the cost of your premiums or deny your application until you show consistent, healthy use — usually, two to three drinks per day.

If you have a recent DUI/DWI conviction on your motor vehicle report, it’ll be even harder to find life insurance coverage. Most insurers won’t offer you a policy until at least five years after your conviction.

How do life insurance companies know about your alcohol use? 

During underwriting — the process during which the insurer determines how much you’ll pay for life insurance — you usually have to take a medical exam with routine blood and urine tests for substance abuse. 

Blood tests will identify carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (%dCDT), [3] a common sign of heavy alcohol consumption — defined as about five drinks per day in this test — in the previous two weeks.  In addition, you’ll have to share past medical records. If you have a documented history of alcohol abuse, it’ll appear on your medical profile.

You’ll also be asked questions about whether you drink or use any other substances and how often. Other questions could include:

  • 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.

Ready to shop for life insurance?

What life insurance health classification will you be assigned based on your history of alcoholism?

If you’ve recovered from alcohol abuse, the date of your last drink and your overall health profile will determine the health classification you’ll be assigned during your life insurance application. Insurers use health classifications to assess your insurance risk and determine how much you’ll pay for your policy. 

In general, the better the health classification you receive, the cheaper your rates will be. The longer you’ve been sober, the better health classification you can expect to receive.

Life insurance health classification

Rates

Number of years since your last drink

Preferred: For applicants who are a lower-than-average risk to insure.

Most affordable

10 or more years sober

Standard: For applicants who are an average level of risk to insure.

Average

5 to 9 years sober

Substandard: For applicants who are a higher-than-average risk to insure.  

Most expensive

3 to 4 years sober

What kind of life insurance can you get if you’ve recovered from alcohol abuse?

If you’re eligible for coverage, your two main options will be term life and whole life insurance. The best type of life insurance for you will depend on your budget and coverage needs.

  • Term life insurance only lasts for a set term, usually between 10 and 30 years, and is the most affordable way for most people to protect their income and provide their family with a financial safety net in the event of their death. Term life is easy to manage and doesn’t come with many rules or tax restrictions.

  • Whole life insurance doesn’t expire and comes with a cash value that earns interest in addition to the death benefit payout — which makes it significantly more expensive than term life. However, it can be a good option for high-net-worth individuals looking to use life insurance to diversify their investment portfolio, or people with long-term financial obligations or coverage needs, like dependents who require lifelong care.

If you’re not sure which type of life insurance is best for your specific situation, a Policygenius expert can help you compare options.

Ready to shop for life insurance?

Best life insurance companies for recovering alcoholics

Methodology

Why you can trust our picks

Our recommendations are based on internal and external expert analysis, as well as our Policygenius Life Insurance Price Index, which uses real-time data from leading life insurance companies to determine pricing trends. When reviewing a life insurance company, our editorial team uses a proprietary scoring rubric with five factors — price, policy details, financial strength, transparency, and customer experience — to assign an unbiased rating between one and five stars. These ratings are also taken into consideration as part of our company recommendations. We don’t get paid for our reviews.

Our reviews and recommendations can help you find a reliable insurer for your family’s financial protection, but the best life insurance company for you depends on multiple factors. A licensed agent at Policygenius can support you during the application process to ensure you get the right coverage for your circumstances at the most competitive price.

Read more about our reviews methodology

Best for people who have been sober over 10 years: Corebridge Financial

award icon

2024 Policygenius award winner

Corebridge Financial

Corebridge Financial logo

Policygenius rating 

Our proprietary rating methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the "methodology" section for more details.

Full orange starFull orange starFull orange starFull orange starHalf orange star

4.6

AM Best rating 

AM Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).

A

Cost 

Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

30+ year terms

All 50 states

Why we chose itchevron icon

With competitive pricing and a range of flexible term periods for its Select-a-Term product, Corebridge is a solid option for many life insurance shoppers. Note: We are currently using AIG’s financial strength ratings until Corebridge has its own rating.

Pros and conschevron icon

Pros

  • Competitive pricing for all ages

  • Favorable underwriting for people with heart conditions and diabetes

  • Good for current and recently pregnant people, including people with gestational diabetes

Cons

  • Not the best for people with mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression

  • No no-medical-exam term option

Our analysis found that Corebridge Financial offers the best rates for people who’ve been sober from alcohol use for at least 10 years. If you have one or zero other health conditions, the company will assign you a Preferred health class, which comes with the second-lowest rates.

Best for people who have been sober for three years: Prudential

award icon

2024 Policygenius award winner

Prudential

Prudential logo

Policygenius rating 

Our proprietary rating methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the "methodology" section for more details.

Full orange starFull orange starFull orange starFull orange starEmpty gray star

4.1

AM Best rating 

AM Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).

A+

Cost 

Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

No-medical-exam option

Why we chose itchevron icon

With nearly four million policyholders and 150 years to its name, Prudential offers competitive coverage options for seniors, as well as people with some of the most common medical conditions, including asthma, depression, and fibromyalgia.

Pros and conschevron icon

Pros

  • Good for people over 60

  • More flexible income requirements than some other insurers

  • Considers applicants with a variety of immigration statuses (visas and green cards)

Cons

  • Younger applicants will likely find better prices elsewhere

We found that Prudential has some of the most flexible guidelines for people who’ve been treated for alcoholism and sober for three years. And if you’ve been sober and haven’t needed treatment for alcohol abuse in the last five years, Prudential might allow you to skip the medical exam that’s a standard part of the application process — which could give you access to coverage faster.

Best for people who currently use alcohol: Pacific Life

award icon

2024 Policygenius award winner

Pacific Life

Pacific Life logo

Policygenius rating 

Our proprietary rating methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the "methodology" section for more details.

Full orange starFull orange starFull orange starFull orange starHalf orange star

4.8

AM Best rating 

AM Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).

A+

Cost 

Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

All 50 states

No-medical-exam option

Why we chose itchevron icon

Pacific Life offers some of the lowest rates for term life insurance across age brackets. It also has the most competitive rates for many health conditions and builds.

Pros and conschevron icon

Pros

  • Extremely affordable across age brackets

  • Affordable guaranteed universal life insurance option for people who need lifetime coverage

  • Favorable underwriting for many health conditions

Cons

  • Traditional term life not available in NY

  • There are better carriers for active duty military, people who have a history of alcohol abuse, and people who have been through bankruptcy

Our analysis found that, assuming that you have no other medical conditions, Pacific Life may approve your application for life insurance and offer you average rates — or lower — even if you consume up to five alcoholic beverages per day. However, you’ll have to take a medical exam and your medical profile will have to show no record of alcohol abuse or treatment for alcoholism in the past.

Best for people who have a history of abuse with other substances: Pacific Life 

If you’ve also been treated for dependence on other controlled substances in addition to alcohol, many insurers will consider this an increased risk factor. However, we found that Pacific Life will be able to offer you traditional coverage at a Standard health classification  — which comes with average rates — once you’ve been sober from drugs and alcohol for at least five years, assuming you have no other health concerns.

Comparing the best life insurance companies for people with a history of alcohol abuse

Insurer

Policygenius rating

Best for

AM Best rating

Pacific Life

4.8/5 ★

Current alcohol users, abuse history of other substances

A+

Corebridge Financial

4.6/5 ★

People sober 10+ years

A

Prudential

4.1/5 ★

People sober 3+ years

A+

Learn more about the best life insurance companies of 2024

How much does life insurance for recovering alcoholics cost?

A 30-year-old non-smoking female who’s been sober for at least 10 years and is in generally good health can expect to pay $23 per month for a $500,000, 20-year term life insurance policy. A 30-year-old non-smoking male with a similar profile can expect to pay $29 per month for the same coverage.

20-year term life insurance rates for people with a history of alcohol abuse

Age

Gender

10+ years sober

5-9 years sober

3-4 years sober

30

Female

$22.98

$34.41

$92.35

Male

$29.32

$43.11

$117.03

40

Female

$35.27

$53.51

$153.88

Male

$42.94

$67.19

$191.57

50

Female

$78.29

$121.88

$347.99

Male

$102.50

$156.80

$442.43

60

Female

$194.16

$292.85

$896.38

Male

$268.04

$408.84

$1,277.48

Collapse table

Methodology: Average monthly rates are calculated for male and female non-smokers in a Table 8 Substandard, Standard, and Preferred health classification obtaining a 20-year $500,000 term life insurance policy. Life insurance averages are based on a composite of policies offered by Policygenius from Brighthouse Financial, Corebridge Financial, Legal & General America, Lincoln Financial, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, Symetra, and Transamerica. Rates may vary by insurer, term, coverage amount, health class, and state. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 02/01/2024.

Ready to shop for life insurance?

What life insurance options do you have if you currently have an alcohol addiction?

If you currently have an alcohol addiction, you still have life insurance options. 

  • Group life insurance: Many employers offer subsidized life insurance to employees without requiring 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. 

  • Guaranteed issue life insurance: A type of final expense insurance that doesn’t expire and is 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 death benefits of up to $25,000 for people age 45 and older.

  • Reapply in the future: Insurers are more likely to consider you for coverage after you’ve been sober for at least three years.

Other health concerns that can affect your life insurance

Certain pre-existing conditions and other health-related factors can affect your life insurance options and costs. A Policygenius expert can help you find the right policy for your needs.

References

dropdown arrow

Policygenius uses external sources, including government data, industry studies, and reputable news organizations to supplement proprietary marketplace data and internal expertise. Learn more about how we use and vet external sources as part of oureditorial standards.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    (CDC). "

    Alcohol Use and Your Health

    ." Accessed February 23, 2024.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    . "

    Excessive Alcohol Use

    ." Accessed February 23, 2024.

  3. National Library of Medicine

    . "

    Carbohydrate deficient transferrin and alcoholism

    ." Accessed February 23, 2024.

Authors

Tory Crowley is an associate life insurance and annuities editor and a licensed insurance agent at Policygenius. Previously, she worked directly with clients at Policygenius, advising nearly 3,000 of them on life insurance options. She has also worked at the Daily News and various nonprofit organizations.

Katherine Murbach is a life insurance and annuities editor, licensed life insurance agent, and former sales associate at Policygenius. Previously, she wrote about life and disability insurance for 1752 Financial, and advised over 1,500 clients on their life insurance policies as a sales associate.

Editor

Antonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.

Expert reviewer

Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®, is a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius. Previously, he was a financial advisor at MetLife and MassMutual.

Questions about this page? Email us at .