Protecting your legacy and your wealth, planning for retirement, and shielding your family from financial hardship are all priorities for most Americans. But if you’re one of the estimated 19.7 million Americans who have struggled with drugs and alcohol1 and are now in recovery, finding life insurance coverage can seem incredibly intimidating. Many believe it’s nearly impossible to obtain quality, valuable coverage with a history of alcohol abuse or substance abuse. While recovering addicts or alcoholics will likely face more limited options when seeking life insurance coverage, there are still options.
Can a recovering substance abuse addict or alcoholic obtain life insurance coverage? Are you wondering, “Where do I even start?” You’re in the right place. SelectQuote’s licensed insurance agents are experts in finding solutions and coverage that fits almost every circumstance. Learn more about obtaining life insurance as a recovering addict below.
Can I buy life insurance if I’m a recovering addict?
Yes, recovering addicts can still purchase term life insurance, but it is possible that recovering addicts can face some challenges in securing coverage and can expect to pay higher premiums. Because insurance policies, benefits, and rates are based on risk, recovering addicts present a higher level of risk to the carrier. And for recovering addicts, it’s even a bit more complicated, as there are multiple factors that can directly impact your eligibility, term length, and pricing.
- You must be drug-free and sober for a minimum of two to three years before most life insurance companies consider you eligible for a term life insurance policy.
- Drug abuse and alcoholism negatively impact one’s health and life expectancy, which can affect family dynamics and stability.
- Addictions can leave lasting physical and mental health complications.
When applying for life insurance, it’s important to provide truthful, accurate information regarding your current health, including relapses, overdoses, and adherence to recovery and sobriety. Being less than honest or inaccurate when applying for life insurance will likely lead to the rejection of the application.
Best Type of Life Insurance for Recovering Alcoholics and Substance Abuse Addicts
Term life insurance is often the most affordable and popular type of life insurance, as it can be purchased for the duration of coverage needed, typically 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years. The amount you pay for coverage will depend on your age, health, gender, and other factors, and as a recovering addict, the health question and risks can vary significantly.
The impact of alcoholism and drug addiction on your health is a significant risk factor and you can expect to complete a detailed medical history questionnaire and provide other details pertaining to your health and health history. Additionally, you must release all medical records for a thorough evaluation and review and will likely be required to take a physical, submit a blood or urine sample, or conduct other medical diagnostics. Still, term life insurance is likely the best option for those in recovery.
How do life insurance companies measure alcohol consumption?
In addition to the traditional medical exam and questionnaire, you’ll likely be asked to submit blood and urine tests (if those aren’t already part of the medical exam) and asked additional questions pertaining to your relationship with alcohol and/or substance use. It is imperative to be honest about the use of both prescription or legal drugs and illegal substances to ensure you receive the most accurate quote.
Multiple long-term healthcare studies have determined that alcoholism can severely impact one’s health and dramatically shorten one’s life expectancy. For example, recent studies have found that individuals hospitalized for alcoholism suffered a decrease in life expectancy from 24-28 years.2 Thus, the duration of alcoholism and the severity of the disease will impact life expectancy directly which could have an impact on your life insurance rates.
When applying for term life insurance, all applicants know that the insurer will seek one’s medical history. Still, when it comes to evaluating a recovering alcoholic’s application, there are additional steps. One can expect to be asked to submit to blood and urine tests.
Here are some of the questions insurers may ask a recovering alcoholic or one who engages in excessive alcohol consumption:
- Have you received a DUI?
- How often do you consume alcohol?
- Has alcohol consumption negatively impacted your relationships, family, or work?
- Have you completed any treatment for excessive alcohol use (alcoholism)?
- Do you have any medical issues or conditions caused by your alcohol consumption?
How Substance Abuse Affects Life Insurance Underwriting
Underwriting, the process or practice of assessing risk, is the core practice of all insurance underwriters when evaluating an applicant’s eligibility and pricing for life insurance. The risk of insuring a recovering alcoholic or recovering drug addict is going to be greater than the average applicant, and as a result, underwriters have to conduct more extensive evaluations of the recovering addict’s medical history, risk, and other factors.
Life insurance underwriting categorizes risk into three groups:
- Preferred Risk – A preferred risk applicant is the most favorable of the three categories as they are the most healthy and are the least risky.
- Standard Risk – This kind of life insurance is accepted and approved as written. The premiums for this type of policy are greater than those for preferred risk.
- Substandard Risk – This is the most costly category for life insurance due to the short life expectancy of the insured (including recovering substance abusers), those with disabilities, and those needing long-term care.
Due to the expected shortened life expectancy of recovering addicts, underwriting is often more lengthy and complicated than that for otherwise healthy applicants. Underwriters will consider the following when evaluating the risk of insuring someone in recovery:
- The type of and frequency of substance abuse
- Length of abuse
- Any relapses
- Current age
What happens if I’ve been denied life insurance coverage?
As underwriting a life insurance policy for a recovering addict can be lengthy and impose a lot of risks, you may be wondering what happens if you’re denied life insurance coverage or how to contest a denial of insurance coverage? Here are some steps you can take if you’ve been denied life insurance due to either existing or previous substance abuse:
- Consult a physician. In some cases, controlled and monitored use of prescription medication can help recovering addicts avoid cravings and triggers to help avoid relapses or future abuse.
- Relaxation or meditation techniques and other ways to manage stress and triggers.
- Join a support group like NARCONON or AA.
- Move your body. Exercise may be able to help reduce addiction-related withdrawal symptoms and lessen cravings.
- Look into therapy. Seeking professional mental health advice and counseling can help you better maintain a healthy, substance-free life.
So what exactly can lead to a life insurance policy application denial? Here are a couple of incidents that might:
- Inaccurate or incomplete information.
- Medical tests and consultations that reveal underlying or unknown health conditions.
- DUI’s or other citations, both of which are signs of risky behavior.
- Any conditions that have developed from your history of substance use.
No Medical Exam Life Insurance Options
If you find that you cannot qualify for traditional life insurance such as term life insurance or whole life insurance, there are two other options:
Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance is an excellent potential option for those that may have been denied other coverage as it is guaranteed for individuals 45-85 and requires no medical exam. If you believe you have any medical conditions that might make it challenging to qualify for traditional types of coverage, this is a great option.
Simplified Issue Life Insurance is for those with serious health issues and takes care of final costs—costs associated with end-of-life costs and burial.
SelectQuote’s Life Insurance Options for Recovering Alcoholics and Addicts
Applying for and qualifying for life insurance for recovering alcoholics and recovering addicts can be a challenging and potentially lengthy process, and options can be limited. Don’t let that intimidate or turn you away, however, because, at SelectQuote, we can help find the right life insurance for you by comparing the rates and coverage options available in just minutes. Get started on your free quote today. We can help.Sources: