Drinking is an undeniable part of UK culture, even if our habits have shown signs of shifting in recent years. Non-alcoholic alternatives are gaining popularity, many people are making a conscious effort to be more mindful of their alcohol consumption, and younger generations don’t seem to be in a hurry to pick up the binge-drinking mantle in the same way as their older counterparts.

Whatever the state of play culturally, alcohol consumption is still one thing that’s bound to come up during a life insurance application. This is because it still has a huge part to play in the health and lifestyle of people from all walks of life in the UK. Your own alcohol consumption could affect the outcome when it comes to getting covered.

Do life insurers ask about alcohol consumption?

Yes, insurers will ask about your alcohol consumption during your application for life insurance. Insurers always ask questions about your health and lifestyle during the underwriting process, including questions about:

  • Your personal health history
  • Your family health history
  • Your lifestyle (including alcohol consumption, drug use, and whether you have a risky job or hobbies)
  • Your smoking status

If you don’t disclose anything risky in your answers – i.e. no health conditions, no smoking, no risky job or hobbies, average alcohol consumption – your application will be a straightforward one. If you do disclose something risky – i.e. above average alcohol consumption – it’s likely your application will need to go through extra underwriting. This is when insurers will weigh up the risks of insuring you and decide whether you’re eligible for cover based on the risk you pose, and how much it should cost.

It’s important to be honest and accurate about your health and lifestyle when you apply for cover like life insurance. If you’re not, it could invalidate your cover, meaning your family won’t get a payout if the worst happens to you.

What’s considered high risk alcohol consumption for life insurance?

Each insurer will have their own threshold for what constitutes ‘risky’ alcohol consumption, but in general your application won’t be flagged if you drink less than 30 standard drinks per week. If you drink 30-40 standard drinks per week, your application will need to go through extra underwriting and you’ll probably need to provide medical information from your GP, but you might still be able to take out cover. If you currently drink 40+ standard drinks per week, it’s likely your application will be declined.

In summary:

  • 30 standard drinks/week = likely to be accepted for life insurance
  • 30-40 standard drinks/week = likely to require further underwriting
  • 40+ standard drinks/week = likely to be declined for life insurance

Can alcoholics take out life insurance?

If you drink over 40 standard drinks per week and/or you’ve been diagnosed with alcoholism, this will make it difficult to take out life insurance. This is because it’s a high-risk lifestyle that could impact your life expectancy, making you higher risk to insure (just as many other health conditions would).

In general, your life insurance application is likely to be declined if:

  • You’ve been advised by a medical professional to reduce your alcohol consumption
  • You’ve been referred to counselling or Alcoholics Anonymous due to your alcohol consumption
  • You’ve needed liver function tests as a result of your alcohol consumption

Can recovered alcoholics take out life insurance?

Most insurers would decline your application if you’ve suffered from alcoholism in the past. A few insurers may consider your application if you’ve been in recovery for a long time (e.g. at least 10 years) and can demonstrate ongoing sobriety.

Life insurance, alcohol and other health conditions

Since alcohol is linked to an increased risk of developing certain other health conditions, insurers would be particularly careful in their consideration if you disclosed one of these during your application. This includes things like heart disease, stroke, and cancers like breast, mouth, throat, oesophageal, bowel, liver and laryngeal cancer. Any of these conditions in your health history combined with risky alcohol consumption would likely make you ineligible for cover.

An alcohol-related incident could affect you when taking out life insurance, even if you haven’t been diagnosed with alcoholism or your weekly consumption is consistently less than 30 standard drinks. An episode of binge-drinking or alcohol-induced criminal activity could damage your eligibly for life insurance. For example, you’re likely to be declined cover if:

  • You’ve been convicted of drink driving
  • You’ve been admitted to A+E for intoxication

Again, it’s extremely important to disclose incidents like this when you apply. If not, it could invalidate a future claim (and you could end up paying for cover for many years that won’t be valid if and when it’s needed).

Yes, life insurance will pay out for an alcohol-related death, so long as the insurer didn’t apply an alcohol-related exclusion when the policy was taken out. The only reason this kind of exclusion would be added is if you disclosed an unhealthy relationship with alcohol when you applied. Insurers don’t tend to add blanket exclusions to life insurance cover (i.e. exclusions that automatically apply to anyone who takes out the policy) for alcohol abuse.

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