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Alcoholism and Life Insurance—What to Know When Applying
Founder & CEO

Recovered alcoholics can find life insurance coverage. Options typically become available around 2 years after your sobriety date, and by the time you are 10 years past your sobriety date, many carriers will not count it against you at all. An exception is if you developed other health conditions due to alcoholism; those factors could still affect your eligibility or pricing.

If you are currently living with alcoholism and have not yet achieved sobriety, then carriers will not offer individual coverage, but you may still be able to obtain coverage through a group life insurance program.

What Do Insurance Carriers Consider Alcoholism?

The term “alcoholism” is generally associated with a severe Alcohol Use Disorder. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism one in eighteen American adults has Alcohol Use Disorder, a condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse consequences. Alcohol Use Disorder can be diagnosed as mild, moderate, or severe. 

Do you consume alcohol but don’t consider yourself an alcoholic? Click here to see the impact of alcohol consumption on life insurance options. 

How Does Alcoholism Affect Life Insurance Options?

Your sobriety date will be very important in your life insurance application process. If you are currently struggling with alcoholism and have not yet achieved sobriety, then you are unlikely to find life insurance coverage until after you have demonstrated at least 2 years of sobriety. You may still find coverage through a workplace program.

Once you have achieved at least 2 years of sobriety, you start to be eligible for individual life insurance, and your options continue to improve as you get further past your sobriety date.

Here’s a glimpse at the improvement in life insurance options (and pricing) that recovered alcoholics can achieve over time:

  • After 2 years of sobriety, life insurance options will likely be Table-Rated, meaning a surcharge to Standard-tier pricing
  • After 5-7 years of sobriety, multiple carriers will consider you for Standard-tier pricing or even Standard-Plus-tier piercing (a one notch discount to Standard-tier pricing)
  • After 10 years of sobriety, many carriers will consider you for Best-tier pricing if you are otherwise eligible. While some carriers will not consider Best-tier pricing with any history of alcoholism, most of those carriers will still consider Preferred-tier pricing, which is a close second to Best-tier pricing

What Matters Most on Your Application When You Have a History of Alcoholism?

When you apply for life insurance as someone who has recovered from alcoholism, the details will be important. 

The key questions are:

  • What was the date of initial treatment or diagnosis of severe alcohol use disorder/alcoholism?
  • What is your sobriety date (the date you stopped using any alcohol)?
  • Have you had any relapses? If so, please share the dates.
  • Have you had any legal issues related to alcohol usage, such as DUI/DWI? If so, please share the dates and the infractions.
  • Have you had other health issues related to alcoholism? 
  • Have you had any tests of your liver functioning? What were the results?

Also try to share your “total picture” with your insurance concierge. These factors can help demonstrate to insurance carriers that you are engaged in your community and managing your history of alcoholism effectively, which can help improve your coverage  options. Some of the key parts of your “total picture” are: 

  • Do you have a job, a regular volunteer commitment, and/or do you attend school?
  • Do you provide care to a child or aging family member? 
  • Do you attend a support group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous? 
  • Do you see a therapist, regularly work out, or maintain any other practices that support your mental or physical wellness?

The more information you can share with us, the better we will be able to match you with the carrier who is most receptive to your specific profile (aka the right carrier for you).

Our Advice for Getting Life Insurance When You Have a History of Alcoholism

Apply for Coverage ASAP 

The best approach is to get coverage in place as soon as you need it and can get it. 

If you need life insurance, do not wait years because you think your options will improve as you move further past your sobriety date. The worst-case scenario would be if you died or had a serious health event (such as cancer or heart disease) while you were waiting for time to pass after your sobriety date, leaving your loved ones without financial protection.

Instead, lock in the best option you can get now, and then try to improve upon your pricing in the future. You always have the opportunity to re-apply and try to improve on your existing coverage.

Talk to an Independent Brokerage Agency 

When you work with an independent brokerage agency like AboveBoard, your insurance concierge sees you as a whole person, not just a set of statistics. We help you apply to multiple insurance carriers to find the very best option for you.

Get an online quote or schedule a call with an AboveBoard agent to learn more about your options. We will walk you through the factors that will be most important to your application for life insurance and help you find the carrier most receptive to your unique profile.

Wallis is the Founder & CEO of AboveBoard Financial, a company reinventing investment advice and insurance with revolutionary transparency and honesty. Wallis spent over 10 years at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker and hedge fund investor in financial institutions. She founded AboveBoard to cut through the BS and present important choices with clarity and compassion. Wallis lives in New York City with her husband and two young children.

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