If you reach for a glass of wine at the end of the day, you aren’t alone. In fact, it is common for many adults to indulge in a drink with dinner or to unwind for the evening.
But what happens when “a drink or two” becomes excessive?
Liver failure, seizures, increased risk of stroke and a weakened immune system are just a few of the side effects of excessive alcohol consumption. Another side effect of excessive alcohol consumption may be increased life insurance premiums. This should come as no surprise, as any activity that decreases your health and increases your risk of mortality can impact what you pay for your life insurance policy.
Before we continue to detail the impacts alcohol consumption may have on your life insurance, we want to take a moment to say that if you – or someone you know – is abusing alcohol, there are websites and resources available to provide help.
Please visit the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s website for more information and resources for treatment options, treatment centers, intervention information and medical treatment options .
Alcohol and Underwriting: The Facts
Perhaps one of the biggest concerns to underwriters when addressing alcohol consumption is the risk of accidents.
If you have ever had a DUI or any alcohol-related accidents, underwriters will flag you as a high-risk client. A high-risk client is defined as any client whose risk of death is more than the average person’s.
If you are impaired and operating a motor vehicle or have been in any type of accident involving alcohol, you will be considered a liability to insurance companies. This could result in extraordinarily high premiums or declines – especially if you are still a drinker.
Apart from a DUI/DWI, the problem with underwriting alcohol use is defining alcohol use.
There is no specific amount that is considered an acceptable amount or an excessive amount. This is because many factors, including age, weight and biochemical makeup all influence how alcohol impacts an individual.
Additionally, there are varying degrees of “excessive” alcohol consumption. For example, binge drinkers are defined as those who consume more than 4 – 6 alcoholic beverages during a single event.
These individuals – while they drink more excessively than the average individual – are typically not psychologically or physiologically addicted to alcohol and may not be classified as alcoholic. Binge drinkers are; however, more likely to be involved in accidents than other classifications of drinkers and therefore pose a bigger risk to carriers.
Even a “casual” or “social” drinker may seem like an “excessive drinker” or even an alcoholic to someone who does not consume alcohol. Many Americans fall somewhere in between the definitions of “casual drinker” and “excessive drinker.”
This is why life insurance companies look at a variety of factors to underwrite your alcohol use. These factors can be comprised of a number of things, including your overall physical health, mental health and record of any accidents in order to classify you.
Life Insurance Underwriting for Alcohol Treatment
The good news is that alcohol consumption will not automatically place you in a higher risk category.
If you have sought treatment for alcohol abuse five or more years prior to applying for life insurance, you may qualify for preferred or standard ratings.
In this case, you would need a strong cover letter written by either yourself or your agent. This letter should detail the circumstances surrounding your past alcohol use, any rehabilitation program you are currently attending and documented proof of a stable work life or family history. This letter should also be accompanied by normal medical lab results and proof of a clean driving record.
If you have previously been involved in a DUI/DWI, the combination of the above appeals are vital to being considered for insurance coverage at standard or preferred rates.
What We Need To Know
When applying for life insurance, there are a few key things your agent will need to know about your alcohol habits. The reason your agent asks you these questions is so that he or she can analyze your lifestyle and alcohol use, and find the carriers that will best suit your needs.
Along with the traditional age, height, weight, sex and smoking habits, your agent will need to know the following:
- Do you presently drink alcohol?
- The quantity and frequency with which you consume alcohol
- If you do not currently drink, when was the last time you consumed alcohol
- Have you ever drank substantially more than you currently do?
- Have you ever sought treatment for excessive alcohol use?
- Have you ever had a DUI/DWI? If you answer “yes” to this question, you will need to provide details.
- Do you currently attend AA or a similar program
- Any additional information that could help your agent negotiate a better rate
In addition to the aforementioned information, your agent will need to know further details about your current and past drinking habits. For example, when drinking have you ever:
- Experienced blackouts?
- Experienced Convulsions?
- Experienced Delirium Tremens?
- Had protein or blood traces in your urine?
- Experienced high blood pressure?
- Experienced any psychological disorders?
- Experienced liver problems?
- Do you have depression?
- Do you have kidney disease?
- Experienced any emotional disorders?
- Been diagnosed with Hepatitis A, B or C?
- Do you have any other medical conditions your agent should know about?
It is important to be as honest as possible on these applications, and to disclose any relevant information to your agent. This way, he or she will be able to assess your situation and match you with the carriers who will look favorably upon your alcohol habits.
Alcohol use is not easy to underwrite, as there are a number of factors that determine whether your alcohol use will impact your life insurance premiums.
Fortunately, with a good agent on your side, you can earn favorable ratings on your life insurance premiums. Give us a call today to see how we can help you find the best life insurance carrier to suit you and your lifestyle.