Can alcohol use affect your insurance premiums?

March 24, 2017
How much drinking is too much when it comes to getting your insurance?   Heavy alcohol use impacts your life expectancy, so insurers want to distinguish between the person who has an occasional glass of wine and someone who has a drinking problem.

Research has revealed that a life style of heavy drinking is a leading cause of death.  Alcohol use over the long term can lead to a variety of serious chronic conditions, e.g. heart problems, dementia, stroke, depression, liver disease and stomach problems.

When you apply for insurance, the insurer will ask about your alcohol use on their application.  Anything more than social drinking will affect your insurance premium or policy conditions.

There are several different factors that insurers consider when considering someone with a history of alcohol abuse:

  • Do they already have an alcohol-related condition such as liver damage?

  • Have they sought alcohol-treatment or attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings?

  • Are there any Driving Under the Influence convictions on their driving record?

Your alcohol use is often recorded in your medical history if you’ve told your doctor you might have an alcohol problem, or he or she suspects it.  An insurance medical may be required that includes blood and urine tests that may reveal abnormalities.  So even if alcohol use is not noted in your medical records, or on your application, a blood test result showing an abnormal liver function can cause an insurer to assume higher alcohol use or indicate something else is wrong.

Depending on the severity of the alcohol use, an insurer could decline to offer insurance, charge an increased premium because of the higher risk, or decline altogether.

Recovering alcoholics have an uphill battle.  It takes a long time before the life insurers will agree to offer insurance on recovering alcoholics. Even if you can show that you’ve succeeded in an alcohol-treatment program and haven’t had a drink in many months, you can expect to be declined, or have a decision postponed for up to 5 years of your recovery.

Finally, if you have or had a drinking problem, do not omit the information from your application.  That is considered fraud and your policy could be voided – see Duty of Disclosure.


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