Many aspects of our health can have an impact on our ability to get access to life insurance plans. Living with alcoholism is not easy, and recovery is a difficult, ongoing process. Rest assured, though, that life insurance is available to you. Your condition may affect how much cover you can get and the cost of your premiums, but cover is still available.
It’s important to know how your plan could be affected by alcoholism. There are, first of all, a couple of different types of alcoholism which we should first mention. Alcohol abuse refers to infrequent bouts of binge drinking. Alcohol dependency is how we would more typically understand alcoholism; that is, chronic alcohol consumption which will cause withdrawal symptoms if taken away.
Either form will, in the eyes of an insurance provider, impact the plans you have access to but, again, it will not prevent you from securing cover at all.
Firstly, life insurance always involves a deal of risk for the provider. That is their business. Many conditions fall under the umbrella of ‘high risk’ life insurance. High risk life insurance takes a broad view of anything in a customer’s lifestyle which could make put them at a higher risk of death.
This includes a very large range of factors from hazardous hobbies to health conditions. Under these terms, alcoholism of any kind would mean that you are a high-risk person. This doesn’t mean that cover is not available to you. However, in most cases it means that premiums will be higher, and in some cases, it may mean that you are not able to obtain standard cover under any terms.
It is worth bearing this in mind, then. Let’s consider alcoholism in particular.
There is no simple answer to how life insurance is affected by alcoholism, for a number of reasons. It takes many forms and associated health risks are, unfortunately, manifold. As either an abuser of alcohol or someone who is alcohol dependent, you are likely to be asked for a more detailed view of your condition.
To begin with, if you are currently consuming large quantities of alcohol, you are likely to be turned down for life insurance. This applies to both dependency and abuse. You will need to fully disclose your circumstances, or you risk voiding your policy when you pass away and there will be no pay-out. You must be completely transparent. If this means that you are not able to secure cover on standard terms, you may need to demonstrate a period of sobriety in order to be approved for cover.
The medical impact of alcohol misuse can be extremely varied, so an insurer may want to know details such as the date of alcohol consumption and how long it lasted, the reason it started, any related health issues, and any psychological treatment or counselling that you may have undergone.
Alcohol abuse is a more clearly defined term than you might think, and so knowing what an insurer may consider abuse is important. In general, providers will not consider your alcohol consumption excessive if you drink 40 units per week or less.
If you’re drinking more than this, you’re unlikely to be able to obtain cover on a standard basis. The insurer will consider you an extremely high risk.
That said, different providers will define this differently. The key thing for you is to be sure to compare multiple quotes so that you can find the most suitable cover. Very few will cover you if you are drinking over 40 units per week, so you may need to reduce your consumption before you can begin searching for cover.
Your policy may also state that alcohol abuse as cause of death is excluded from your policy. This is often true for all forms of alcoholism in life insurance policies.
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As you would expect, obtaining cover becomes much easier when you’re no longer dependent on alcohol. For recovering alcoholics, insurers will ask for a certain period of sobriety. It can vary greatly in length between providers, but is usually between 1 and 5 years. If you have sustained any significant side effects as a result of your drinking, such as liver damage or the onset of mental health issues, you may be required to wait longer.
The insurers will want a much more detailed view of your medical history if you have a history of alcohol dependency. Be completely open and honest about these things: if you do not fully disclose all the information they request, your policy could be voided when you pass away.
As far as obtaining cover when you are currently alcohol dependent, it will be very difficult. You certainly will not be able to obtain cover on standard terms. In some cases, providers are willing to have individual policies manually underwritten in order to fit a person’s particular needs. This is very unlikely for someone who is currently alcohol dependent.
If you are a UK resident aged 50-85, you can obtain cover on an over 50s plan. These plans do not require any medical information at point of application, and so are perfect for those struggling to gain cover.
However, these policies typically have a 2-year waiting period at the start of the term. If you pass away during this time, no pay-out will be made and any premiums you’ve paid will be refunded. These policies generally have their pay-outs capped at £25,000. You will need to assess your own needs, then.
Ultimately, your best hope of being approved for life insurance when suffering with alcoholism is to try to get yourself on a road to recovery. Nothing about the process is easy, but you can rest assured that help is available. The more you can demonstrate the efforts you have made to alter your circumstances and better your health, the better your chances will be of obtaining the appropriate cover you need to protect your family.