When applying for life insurance, there are several factors that your life insurance provider will take into consideration when determining the premiums you will pay, or if you will be approved at all.  You may be worried that a life insurance company will deny you if you are an alcoholic, and you may be correct.  While you typically will not be denied coverage for alcoholism alone, if the alcohol has negatively impacted your health, and in the long run it almost certainly will, then you may have a reason to worry.

One of the biggest factors that life insurance companies take into consideration is your health. Your past and your current health are hugely important to insurance providers. Why? – Because the healthier you are, the less of a chance the insurance company will have to pay out. If you have term life insurance, the better your health, the lower the chance that you will pass away during the term your life insurance covers. If you have whole life insurance, the better your health, the more money you will pay out to the insurance provider before they need to pay out. Both cases are positives for life insurance companies, and positive for you, too. The healthier you are, the less you will have to pay out of pocket for your insurance.  If you have a whole life policy, it will also accumulate cash value more quickly if you are given a higher health rating during the underwriting.

With that said, there are certain factors that a provider will look at when determining the quality of your health. Your lifestyle can have a direct impact on your quality of life. And, if you are an alcoholic, your quality of life – and thus, your health – suffers, and along with it your ability to provide protection for your family with life insurance.

How Alcoholism Impacts Your Health

Generally speaking, a life insurance company won’t particularly care about the amount of alcohol you consume; however, the company is concerned with your health. Since alcohol can have a direct and profound impact on your health and the decisions that you make, which could also impact your health and your life span, a health insurance company will certainly take alcoholism into consideration when determining your premiums.  If you are a severe alcoholic, you may not qualify for life insurance coverage at all.

The Long-term Effects of Alcoholism

Imbibing excessive amounts of alcohol for a long period of time can have lasting and detrimental impacts on your health. The long-term effects of alcohol include:

Brain damage. Alcohol can reduce the blood supply to the brain, thus killing brain cells. As a result, long-term drinking can cause permanent brain damage, serious mental health problems, and dependence on alcohol. The younger you are when you start drinking excessively, the more profound the impact on your brain will be. Why? – Because the brain is still developing during the teen years and the early 20s.
Cancers. After smoking, alcohol consumption is the second largest cause of certain types of cancer, including mouth and throat cancer. Cirrhosis of the liver, a condition that is caused by ingesting too much alcohol, can eventually lead to liver cancer.  Life insurance companies typically do not give policies to people who have had cancer, unless you are willing to pay way more for a substandard rating, or a no-underwriting policy.
Heart health. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to increased blood pressure or hypertension. Increased blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack or stroke, two things that can cut your life short. Additionally, drinking too much alcohol can weaken the muscles of the heart, which can have a negative impact on other vital organs, including the lungs, the liver, and the brain; not to mention the fact that it can cause heart failure. Binge drinking and heavy drinking over prolonged periods of time can lead to an irregular heartbeat, which has been linked to cases of sudden death.  Life insurance companies are particularly concerned with heart health because heart attack and related cardiovascular issues are the biggest cause of death in the United States.
Liver. The liver is responsible for filtering out toxins in the body. Initially, alcohol will cause fatty deposits to develop in the liver. With continued heavy and excessive drinking, the liver can become inflamed, which can lead to the development of hepatitis, and eventually can cause liver failure and death. Additionally, drinking too much alcohol for prolonged periods of time can lead to permanent scarring on the liver, and lasting damage. This can eventually cause cirrhosis, which can increase the risk of liver cancer.
Your Baby.  If you are planning on getting life insurance for your baby, and you drink during pregnancy, you better believe that the underwriters are going to look into this, and your baby may even be denied insurance coverage.  So when you drink not only are you putting yourself at risk, and your ability to protect your family with life insurance, but you may also be hurting the financial future of your baby.  Of course drinking during pregnancy also causes a whole host of potential problems for your baby.  The most common problems being behavioral and developmental issues, along with some physical abnormalities such as a cleft lip.  Don’t drink when your pregnant.

Other Effects of Alcoholism

In addition to these long-term effects, alcoholism can cause a host of other problems that life insurance companies consider problematic. For example, alcoholism can increase your chances of driving a motor vehicle while impaired, which can significantly raise your chances of premature death. Likewise, it can also lead to the inappropriate operation of machinery, such as lawnmowers and power tools, which can also increase the chances of premature death. There is also a greater likelihood of partaking in criminal activity, which can result in incarceration; both of which can reduce your life span.  Life insurance companies ask if you have had an OUI or DUI or DWI during underwriting, and you better answer honestly or your company may not pay out if you die.

How Alcoholism Impacts Your Life Insurance

When life insurance companies issue a policy, they need to have the assurance that the person they are insuring will live a long, healthy life. Whenever a condition exists that could lead to early mortality, the life insurance company will increase their premiums in order to compensate for the higher risk; or, the company may outright decline the policy. This means that you could either pay a lot more for your life insurance, or you may not be able to get coverage at all.

How does a Life Insurance Company Find Out About Alcoholism?

Alcoholics may try to conceal their excessive consumption of alcohol when they are trying to get life insurance coverage; however, there are several different ways that a life insurance company can determine you have a history of alcoholism, these are done through the health exam and underwiting process including:
• Asking if you have a history of health insurance
• Taking a blood test, which will indicate alcohol markers and confirm large amounts of alcohol consumption
• Investigate your medical records, which will reveal if you have ever sought treatment for alcoholism in your past
• Searching your driving records, which will show any history of past DUI or DWI activity

In short, if you are an alcoholic, you can expect to pay more for your life insurance; however, you must be aware that you may not receive coverage at all. If you are suffering from alcoholism, your best bet is to seek help as soon as possible, and well before you apply for life insurance coverage. You should also be open and honest with the company you are applying for a policy from. Just like anything in life, honesty is always the best policy.

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