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DWI, DUI, Alcohol Abuse History and Their Effect On Buying Life Insurance

Real Life Story

Recently we ran into a tricky and semi unfortunate situation with a client's life insurance application. During their initial consultation filling out the life insurance application, the client, who was a farmer, forgot to disclose some key issues about his alcohol history and simply told Tai that he was perfectly healthy and had nothing in his past that would be of concern. But the life insurance company, after receiving the application on the client, conducted its routine underwriting process. The underwriter when reviewing the client's motor vehicle reports and health records discovered that that farmer actually had a DWI as well as a semi-serious ailment (caused by alcohol abuse) in his recent history. The farmer was declined for life insurance. Furthermore as is customary in the industry, the insurance company reported the decline to the Medical Information Bureau which shares insurance company findings with other life insurance companies. This report on the MIB ensured Tai's client would have a hard time getting life insurance from any company in the near future.

This was a very unfortunate situation. As it turned out, the farmer received the DWI merely driving from one side of his farm to the other. He was pulled over while crossing a tiny road that divided his land. Had Tai known this information to begin with, he could have shopped multiple insurance companies until he found an insurer who was more lenient on DWIs, especially considering all the circumstances. Then Tai could have even negotiated with an underwriter directly and explained the client's situation BEFORE submitting a formal application. There was still the health issues to deal with, but on their own these would probably only have resulted in higher premiums, not a declination.

The lesson is that insurance underwriters are conservative people. If they are surprised by new information not disclosed on the initial application they will generally follow the most conservative route which is to reject the application. If the client had simply understood that a good agent works for the client, and had the client disclosed all relevant information, the situation would have surely ended on a more positive note. 

I Have Had Problems with Alcohol Abuse, DUI or DWI. Now What?

Alcohol use can be a significant factor in finding affordable life insurance. Life insurance companies often view DWIs, DUIs, alcoholism, and other alcohol-related problems as serious issues. If you have a history of excessive alcohol use with positive alcohol markers from blood testing, you face a high likelihood of being declined by most life insurance companies. If you have a history of excessive alcohol use with negative alcohol markers, then you should expect a one to two year postponement period following the date of your last treatment/use. Then, for approximately the next three years, you should expect table ratings and/or flat extras V.

Alcohol's Effect on Insurance Premium Rates.

Here are two tables outlining different scenarios for those with a history of alcohol use. The first table is for those people applying for life insurance that have had problems with excessive alcohol use within the last five years. The second table outlines miscellaneous scenarios, including an expected rating for those who successfully treated their alcohol problems at least five years ago. 

Alcohol Problems Within the last Five Years

Timeline

Expected Rating

Alcohol Markers Positive

Decline

Alcohol Markers Negative; Treatment Completed: Phase 1: Years 1-2

Postponement

Phase 2: Next 1-2 Years

Table 4 or flat extras

Phase 3: Next Year

Table 2 or flat extras

Final Phase

Standard

   

Miscellaneous Scenarios

Scenario

Expected Rating

Indication of driving under the influence or alcohol abuse while participating in hazardous occupations or activities

Table 4 through Decline

Evidence of organ problems due to drinking

Table 2 through Decline

 

Single occurrence (e.g. a DUI) assuming there is no other alcohol criticism in the motor vehicle report, medical records, or inspection report

Standard through Table 2

A past history of excessive alcohol use which was successfully treated five or more years ago

Standard through Preferred


More Information on Alcohol

When it comes to alcohol use there are, unfortunately, no so-called "clear lines" that distinguish between the different levels of what is acceptable and what is classified as alcoholism. This is because there are a number of subjective criteria, including an individual's biochemical and psychological composition as well as varying cultural expectations, which all lead to different definitions and opinions of where these "clear lines" lay. In our society one to two servings of alcohol with dinner or after work is deemed acceptable for most individuals. But after alcohol consumption increases beyond this acceptable level, the lines begin to blur. For example, even if the level of consumption is increased to as few as two to four drinks per day, mild medical issues, such as increased liver activity, begin to arise. Higher up on this spectrum are the binge drinkers and/or alcoholics, commonly defined as one who consumes more than four to six drinks in a single session, who are not regarded as being addicted to alcohol. But, even during their sessions of elevated intoxication, these binge drinkers drastically increase their risk of accident since they become susceptible to drunk-driving mishaps and other related problems. Finally, there are those who are truly addicted to alcohol. These individuals drink every day, at times simply to escape feelings of depression. For obvious reasons they pose high risks to themselves and to others since this behavior often leads to medical, social, business, and family problems.

Important Things to Know for Those with a History of Excessive Alcohol Use

What are some of the issues that interest underwriters and that should be disclosed to your agent?

  • How much do you drink per day? Have there been relapses after treatment for alcohol abuse?

  • Did you seek treatment? If so, when did it occur and was it successful?

  • What are your current liver enzyme levels?

  • Have you attended or do you currently attend AA?

  • What does your driving record look like?

  • Have you ever had any medical complications as a result of alcohol?

  • Has there been any alcohol criticism in your medical files?

What can I do to help the underwriting process?

Make sure you disclose all relevant information on your application. Also make sure to submit a detailed explanation and or cover letter about your past problems with alcohol, including what you have done to treat the problem and whether treatment has been successful. The more information you provide your agent the more he or she will be able to help you. It is imperative that you use an agent with experience with applying for life insurance with clients with a history of alcohol abuse. Few agents have expertise in this area.

Need Our Help?

Jon Dewar and his staff at LLG Advanced Insurance Services have extensive experience in helping individuals maneuver the complications of buying life insurance for clients who have had a DUI, have been to AA, or who have received treatment for alcohol abuse. Please take a moment to contact us and let us do a free assessment over the phone. We can research your situation with up to 200 life insurance companies and find you the lowest priced, highest quality plan available. We know the right companies to go to and how to interact directly with the underwriters as an advocate for you during the application process.

Complete the following form, or call us toll-free at 888-854-7526 if you would like to speak with someone or get more information.

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