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How Drinking Alcohol Affects Life Insurance
Founder & CEO

Most life insurance applications ask how much alcohol you drink and how often. Many people will rack their brains with questions like “do I have 3-4 drinks per week or is it more like 5-6?” or “do I usually drink once a month or twice?” These subtle differences rarely impact your life insurance eligibility. In fact, even the difference between one drink per month or one drink per day will not change the options available to people who are generally healthy and have no history of alcohol abuse. The exception to this rule is for people whose medical history includes alcohol abuse or another medical condition where even moderate alcohol intake can have serious impacts.

How Underwriting Alcohol Use for Life Insurance Works

A life insurance underwriter’s job is to assess the overall risk (to their company) of insuring you. Part of this assessment includes whether you are classified as a “moderate or non-drinker,” “problem drinker,” or if your drinking is “alcoholism.” 

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP),“problem drinking is defined as more than seven drinks per week or more than three drinks per occasion for women; and more than 14 drinks per week or more than four drinks per occasion for men.”

If your consumption of alcohol is less than the AAFP’s definition of “problem drinking,” and you have no history of alcohol abuse or other serious medical conditions, then your alcohol consumption will almost certainly not affect your life insurance options.

Most life insurance carriers are even comfortable with applicants whose consumption is modestly higher than the AAFP’s definition of “problem drinking,” so long as you don’t have any other negative factors in your profile, such as your doctor noting concerns about your drinking habits, recent DUIs, abnormal liver function tests, etc.

If your consumption of alcohol is considered “alcoholism,” this can certainly affect your life insurance options. Recovered alcoholics can get life insurance, and once their sobriety date is 10 years in the past, many carriers are even willing to consider recovered alcoholics for their Best-tier pricing, if the applicant is otherwise qualified. Learn more about the life insurance options available to people who have a history of alcoholism here.

Top 3 Things You Need To Know

Does giving up alcohol improve my life insurance options? 

For people who have no history of alcohol abuse or other serious medical conditions, giving up alcohol will not improve your life insurance options. For example, a healthy person who is qualified for Best-tier pricing will get that pricing regardless of whether they report one drink per day or zero drinks ever.

For people whose alcohol use has been flagged as problematic but not rising to the level of alcoholism, choosing not to drink can improve your options.

If you have a history of alcoholism, demonstrating total sobriety is a requirement to get life insurance.

How will insurance companies know what I drink?  

As part of your application, you authorize insurance companies to access your medical records and your driving records. The insurance company can look into what you have told your doctor about your alcohol consumption. Try not to get too worried about this—if your alcohol consumption is less than the definition of “problem drinking,” it’s unlikely to create an issue if you told the insurance carrier you have 3 drinks per week but your medical records from one year ago show you claimed 5 drinks per week. 

For many application processes, you will also complete a paramedical exam that includes a blood sample and urine sample. This will include tests that look at liver functioning and other attributes that can be correlated with excessive alcohol consumption.

Carriers will also be able to see if you have ever had a DUI or DWI.

Does a DUI or DWI affect my pricing?  

Having a recent DUI or DWI will raise the pricing of your life insurance options, and in some cases, it will mean you have to wait before you can get coverage. As you get further away from the DUI or DWI, your options will improve if you demonstrate moderate alcohol usage and no additional convictions. Learn more about the life insurance options available to people with a DUI or DWI here.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of your alcohol usage, it’s important to answer the questions on your life insurance application honestly and to the best of your recollection. Insurance companies can pull your medical records, and to avoid being declined or having your coverage denied to your loved ones, it’s really important to be honest and forthcoming about the facts. It’s better to answer honestly than have to explain a discrepancy or be declined because of one. 

Rest assured that if you have no history of alcohol misuse and your usage is below the definition of “problem drinking,” then your enjoyment of a moderate amount of alcohol should not affect your life insurance options. 

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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