The Society of Actuaries says that alcohol abuse may take off anywhere from 10 to 15 years of your life. But did you know it can also raise your life insurance premiums?
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When applying for life insurance, you will have to answer questions on the application related to your alcohol use. There is no actual insurance ruling on "problem drinkers" or "alcoholics," but excessive drinking can lead to certain medical conditions which will ultimately affect what insurance rate a life insurance company assigns you. It's very rare that you will be denied coverage based on the answer you give, but it may prompt a further investigation into your life and use of alcohol.
When a life insurance company is reviewing your application and records, there are a couple of things they look for that may "red flag " you as a risk:
- Liver enzymes.
If you took a blood test, your life insurance company may test a sample for liver enzymes. If levels are elevated, it may mean there is an alcohol-related medical problem. Also, if you're not a drinker, elevated levels may signal there is something seriously wrong with your health. A decision for your life insurance will be postponed until you meet with a doctor and find the reason your liver is not functioning like normal.
- Drunk driving conviction.
Even if it was your first time and an isolated incident, if you were cited with a drunk driving conviction, you might get a higher premium because it's a red flag for alcohol abuse. If you get a DWI, your life insurance company will be more prone to search through your record, to see if there is more than just the one cited incident.
- Attending physician's statement (APS).
An APS is a statement that your insurance company requests from your doctor or physician regarding your health.
It is used to check for anything that shows alcohol is affecting your health. It may have the same information that you wrote down in your application, but if your doctor has concerns about your drinking, they will be included as well.
The underwriter gets to make the decision on what happens if they notice one or more of the above red flags while reviewing your life insurance application. They can either:
- Issue the policy
- Offer you a more expensive life insurance policy (due to concerns on alcohol abuse or medical conditions)
- Decline your application
- Postpone your application
- Seek out further information from you and your doctor(s) and order a blood test to aid in the informational investigation
Admission to drinking
If you received a DWI a couple of years ago, and you take a life insurance medical exam now and it comes back with high enzyme results for your liver, or you admit to drinking heavily, your insurance premium may be highly unaffordable. If, on the other hand, you admit to drinking heavily, but the tests come back that you have normal liver functions and you have no current DWIs on record, you may get standard rates.
Getting lower premiums
Depending on what red flags your tests threw up, there are different things that you can do that will get your premiums lowered:
- Flat extra premium.
Recent or multiple drunk driving convictions may lead to a flat extra premium being tacked on to your regular life insurance premium. These fees will typically disappear anywhere from two to five years after your last conviction
- Lessen your drinking.
You don't have to quit entirely, but even reducing your drinking to a moderate level can help you get lower premiums. Be sure to document dates and visit your doctor so he/she can monitor your progress as well. You can approach your life insurance company over a period of six months to two years, and show them your proactive approach at bettering your health.
- Improve your health.
As stated above, by lessening the amount you drink, getting your liver enzymes in check, and taking better care of your body and health, you should be able to get your life insurance premium lowered. If your insurance company is unwilling to lower your rates, don't be scared to shop around-there will be another underwriter out there who is willing to look at your health improvements and give you a better quote.
If you are interested in getting a life insurance quote, log on to Insurance.com. Here you will be able to evaluate multiple rates from best-in-class life insurance providers - helping you find the best life insurance coverage for you.