Editor’s note: updated October 2018.
If you’re looking for a life insurance policy, you may be surprised to discover what can impact your life insurance cost. Alcohol use can play a major role in what you end up paying for coverage, especially if you have a history of excessive alcohol use.
Excessive alcohol consumption may cause a number of health and behavioral problems that increase your insurance company’s risk of insuring you and results in you paying a higher life insurance cost for your policy.
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Underwriting Alcohol for Life Insurance
When you apply for life insurance, underwriters review the complete application and all the records that go along with it. They then decide how much coverage and at what cost to offer the applicant, unless they decide to deny or post-pone the application.
In regards to alcohol, the underwriter will use medical records (especially those related to treatment for substance abuse and psychiatric illness), social profile, motor vehicle reports, laboratory results, and physical findings in order to assess the risk associated with excessive alcohol consumption. A blood test, carbohydrate deficient transferring (CDT), can sometimes be used in underwriting to identify those consuming excess alcohol.
The following is a list of complications from excessive alcohol consumption that are significant to life insurance underwriting:
- Cardiac: Atrial fibrillation, cardiomyopathy, hypertension
- Nervous system: Blackouts, seizures, delirium tremens (DTs), peripheral neuropathy, tremors, brain damage, psychosis, balance and gait impairments
- Gastrointestinal: Fatty liver, hepatitis, cirrhosis, pancreatitis, gastrointestinal bleeding (sometimes massive) due to gastritis, varices, and esophagitis, cancer, diarrhea
- Bone marrow: Abnormal blood counts including anemia
- Psychiatric and social: Depression, anxiety, suicide, violent behavior, marital/occupational/familial problems, abuse of other drugs as well as alcohol
- Miscellaneous: Aspiration pneumonia, accidents and trauma. Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psycho-social, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease can be progressive and fatal. It is characterized by impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial. Each of these symptoms may be continuous or periodic.
Life insurance underwriters also negatively rate for binge drinking and risky drinking. “Binge drinking” is defined as heavy drinking to the point of intoxication on a periodic basis. “Risky drinking” is more than 14 drinks per week or more than 4 per occasion, for men, and more than 7 drinks per week or more than 3 per occasion, for women.
Risk Factors and Life Insurance Cost
Besides the risks associated with excess alcohol intake, the underwriter also considers favorable historical items such as:
- active participation in Alcoholics Anonymous,
- voluntary initiation of treatment,
- single period of treatment or hospitalization,
- maintenance of stable family life,
- sustained employment,
- financial solvency, and
- good health without reports of violence or arrests.
If the individual is able to successfully stop drinking alcohol without relapse, after seven to ten years, the mortality rate approaches that of the general population.
If you have a history of excessive alcohol consumption, you may be table rated. The table rating system typically means that your pricing for life insurance will be the Standard price plus 25% for every step down the table you are, Tables A-J or 1-10 depending on which format the insurance company uses.
John Smith is a 40-year-old risky drinker but has no other issues such as social, legal, or health problems and has no history of alcohol treatment. He applies for a 20-year $250,000 term policy and the underwriters rate him Table C. The Standard premium of this policy is $36, but because he is table rated we calculate his monthly premium costs to be $63 (36 + 75%).
- Severity of the excess
- Severity of associated complications
- Evidence of alcohol dependence and/or withdrawal
- Legal problems related to alcohol such as DUIs
- Abuse of other drugs
- Number of relapses
- Current participation in groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous
Quotacy has years of experience getting clients life insurance coverage, including people with alcohol history. Our in-house underwriter knows how to navigate each individual’s health history and which life insurance company would be the best option for your individual case. If you are ready to buy life insurance coverage, get a term life insurance quote now and let’s start the process.
If you have any questions regarding underwriting alcohol, feel free to contact us or jot us a message in the Comment section below. If you are looking to get an idea on the cost of life insurance if you have a history of alcohol abuse, it costs nothing to run a quote and apply online. You will have a dedicated Quotacy agent shop your case with our top-rated life insurance companies to ensure you receive the best possible price.
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About the writer
Natasha Cornelius, CLU
Senior Editor and Life Insurance Expert
Natasha Cornelius, CLU, is a writer, editor, and life insurance researcher for Quotacy.com where her goal is to make life insurance more transparent and easier to understand. She has been in the life insurance industry since 2010 and has been writing about life insurance since 2014. Natasha earned her Chartered Life Underwriter designation in 2022. She is also co-host of Quotacy’s YouTube series. Connect with her on LinkedIn.