If you suffer from drug addiction, you may find it harder to qualify for life insurance. Typically, you’ll be offered higher rates or denied coverage altogether. Even if you’re a recently recovering addict, some insurers may still see you as an active user, which makes getting insured even more challenging.
In this guide, we’ll discuss all the information that you need to know about getting insured with a history of drug use. We’ll explain why you’re denied life insurance because of drug use, how different substances affect your coverage, as well as give you alternative options so you can still be insured.
Why Life Insurance Companies Care About Drug Use
Life insurance companies take a risk every time they agree to insure someone. If someone is more likely to die during their coverage term, then the insurer takes on more risk – they reflect that by giving the person higher rates. If someone is extremely risky to insure, the insurance company may deny them coverage altogether.
Drug addiction makes someone more likely to develop health issues, increasing their likelihood of death. Not only that, but addiction may also impact someone mentally, which may lead to reckless behavior like driving under the influence and an increased chance of criminal involvement.
Because of these risks tied to drug misuse, life insurance companies tend to give drug abusers much higher rates. If someone is addicted to certain dangerous drugs, they may reject that person’s life insurance application outright. Even if you’re a recovering addict, you may be given higher rates due to your risk of relapse.
Can I Get Life Insurance With A History of Drug Use?
When you apply for life insurance, you’ll need to answer questions related to your drug history. In most cases, if your drug use is still within acceptable limits, the life insurance company may still agree to provide coverage.
A life insurance company assesses your substance use problem’s severity using several factors. Namely, they’ll want to know what kinds of drugs you abused and for how long you’ve been addicted. They may also ask you about participation in a rehab program, your history of relapses, as well as whether you have any health issues stemming from your drug use. If your case is especially severe, they may disqualify you from receiving coverage.
However, even if you think that you won’t qualify for coverage, you should never omit any information in your life insurance application process. Even if you successfully receive coverage by hiding your addiction, the insurer will be able to cancel your life insurance policy and deny your loved one any payout if they find out about your attempt at insurance fraud.
Understanding How Life insurance Classifications Work
In addition to your drug history, your life insurance rates are also determined by other risk factors. Insurers calculate your quote based on personal information like your body dimensions, health status, family health history, and lifestyle. After the insurer determines your mortality risk, you’ll be placed in one of four health categories.
These categories range from Preferred Plus to Standard where the higher you place, the lower premiums you’ll pay. As a drug user, you’re unlikely to be placed in the top two categories unless you’ve been clean for years.
Insurers also have one other category called Substandard if you’re deemed especially risky to insure. You may be placed here due to a very complex health situation, severe medical issues, as well as an especially alarming family health history.
Because of the numerous health risks associated with tobacco use, smokers fall into a special category that is charged up to three times the rates offered to non-smokers. Another thing to keep in mind is that some insurers may offer tobacco rates to marijuana smokers.
How Different Drugs And Substances Impact Your Life Insurance Policy
It’s a given that drug use will likely raise your rates. However, some types of substance use are looked upon more favorably by insurers compared to others.
Alcohol addiction is tied to illnesses like heart damage, liver problems, and stroke. Alcoholics also tend to engage in reckless activities that could be dangerous to them as well as to others. Due to this, alcohol abuse is a severe red flag when insurers assess your risk.
If you’re currently abusing alcohol, most insurers will deny your application outright. If you’re a recovering alcoholic, especially lenient insurance companies will only consider your application once you’re two years sober. Generally, it’ll take five years of sobriety before your alcoholism is no longer a factor in your underwriting.
Due to the high danger of nicotine addiction, the Smoker category offered by most insurance companies charges you three times as much as non-smokers. This applies not only to cigarette smokers but also to consumers of e-cigarettes, marijuana cigarettes, and chewing tobacco.
To qualify for non-smoker rates, a smoker needs to be nicotine-free for at least two years before they start the application process. However, some insurers may give you non-smoker rates if you only smoke a certain amount of cigars per month.
Because marijuana use is starting to become more accepted in the United States, insurers tend to be more lenient to weed smoking. If you only smoke recreationally several times per year and are in otherwise good health, you stand a chance of being classified in the highest category.
However, frequent marijuana smokers may be classified as a smoker, which means that they’ll pay much higher premiums. Those who use marijuana as prescription medications may also be given higher rates, typically due to the medical issue that requires them to take weed as medication.
Insurers generally have zero tolerance for hard drugs like meth and cocaine. If you’re currently using hard drugs without a doctor’s prescription, your insurance application will almost certainly be denied. Abuse of prescription drugs like painkillers without a doctor’s permission also falls into this category.
To qualify for protection again, you’ll need to prove that you’ve been drug-free for several years.
Life Insurance Alternatives For Drug Abusers
If you’re having issues qualifying for traditional life insurance as a drug user, here are four options for insurance protection that you can consider.
Simplified Issue Life Insurance
A simplified issue life insurance policy provides you lifelong coverage without having to go through a medical exam. As a substitute, you’re only required to fill out a medical questionnaire. Once you’re approved, they typically provide a smaller insurance face amount worth up to $50,000.
As a caveat, these policies usually have an age requirement and may not be viable if you’re younger. There’s also a two-year waiting period where, if you die during the first two years of owning the policy, your loved one will only receive a refund of the premiums.
Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance
Similar to simplified issue life insurance, a guaranteed issue life insurance policy is geared toward seniors who cannot otherwise qualify for life insurance. In this type of policy, you’ll be accepted for lifelong coverage without any questions, entirely bypassing any medical exam or questionnaire. Usually, this policy provides life insurance coverage worth up to $25,000.
However, this policy also requires the same two-year waiting period as a simplified issue policy. You’ll also need to pay more than a regular policy for a much smaller insurance face amount. In addition to that, suffering from a terminal illness may still disqualify you from receiving coverage.
Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance
Accidental death & dismemberment (AD&D) policies, while considered as a supplemental policy, may still help you. True to its name, an AD&D policy only pays out if you die as a result of an accident. In addition to that, it may also payout if you suffer a permanent disability such as the loss of a limb or body function.
You should keep in mind that because it only protects you from accidental death, an AD&D policy isn’t a full substitute for life insurance. Due to this policy’s coverage limitations, you should always check what an insurer considers as accidents in the policy terms.
Group Life Insurance
One more viable option for alternative protection is to get coverage as part of your employee benefits. While you’re usually given this policy for free, the coverage amount is typically much lower than other policies. These policies also are usually non-portable, which means you’ll lose this coverage if you leave the company.
Getting More Affordable Life Insurance As A Drug User
In this section, we’ll share three tips to increase your likelihood of receiving better rates.
Make Efforts To Get Clean
An insurer’s assessment of your drug abuse isn’t a simple yes or no question. Many factors come into play, such as what types of substances you consume and how long you’ve been addicted. While you’re unlikely to change this fact, there are some things that you can control.
Because drug use often leads to disease, improving your health is essential. Even if it doesn’t make much difference when applying for insurance as a newly-recovered drug user, your health will likely lead to affordable rates once you’ve been sober for several years.
Participation in a support group is also beneficial to your mental state and reduces your likelihood of relapsing. In addition to that, by regularly attending support group meetings, you’re showing a commitment to sobriety, which may improve your rates.
To ensure that you have proof of your efforts to get clean, you should keep records of your medical visits and support group attendance to show the insurers if necessary.
Explore All Available Insurance Options
Traditional policies aren't the only way you can get insurance protection. While it may be more expensive, you can look into simplified or guaranteed issue policies that feature more relaxed requirements. You can also opt to purchase an accidental death and dismemberment policy to provide temporary protection while you work on getting clean.
For more information about which policies may fit your needs, you can try checking insurers’ websites. Typically, their site provides life insurance information that helps you compare policies between different companies.
Consult An Independent Life Insurance Agent
As a recovering drug user, you tend to have very limited options when it comes to life insurance. To help you gather insurance information and quotes, you can enlist the help of an independent life insurance agent. With their understanding of the life insurance industry, a life insurance agent can help you compare quotes and find the best policies for a former drug abuser.
When working with insurance agents, you should also be honest about your drug history. If an insurance agent fully understands your abuse circumstances, they’ll be able to help you better.
Drug abuse makes it harder to qualify for traditional life insurance. Depending on which substance you’re addicted to and the severity of your addiction, you may be subject to higher rates or denied coverage altogether.
To be able to qualify for insurance again, you need to be sober for several years. However, you can look into alternative insurance protection like a group policy or a guaranteed issue life insurance if you need to stay insured while you recover.
If you’re looking for life insurance as a recovering addict, Wesley Insurance, LLC is here to help! Our team of financial professionals can advise you on how to find the best life insurance policies that can protect former drug addicts at affordable rates. Contact us today for more information!