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When a life insurance provider reviews applications for policies, it seeks to assess each applicant’s risk, or rather, the likelihood of the applicant passing away while the policy is in effect. Risk factors typically include age, health condition and in some cases, specific lifestyle choices. When an insurer finds lifestyle choices disclosed on your application that could negatively impact your health, such as smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol, they may offer you a higher premium or deny your application altogether. If you currently use illicit drugs, you could likely receive a denial.
If you are dishonest on your life insurance application, however, your provider may cancel your policy or raise your premium if they find out you lied about past drug use, for example. If you need to undergo a medical exam, you’ll likely be tested for current drug use as well. Any intentionally false statements on your part could lead to immediate denial. It’s okay to be honest about your past if you had a problem with addiction. Most life insurers will want you to have been clean for a minimum period of time, but that varies by insurer.
Life insurance for drug users
If you use drugs, your life insurance provider will typically view you as a greater risk to insure. For insurers, the issue is primarily associated health concerns with drug use. For example, smoking tobacco lowers life expectancy at least 10 years, according to the CDC. And alcohol use is associated with major diseases like liver cirrhosis and cardiovascular disease, along with a greater risk of fatal car accidents.
Because of the risks associated with the practice, it’s understandable that life insurance companies would want to know about an applicant’s drug use.
If you’ve previously been to rehab or are still getting clean, you may have to wait to apply for a life insurance policy until that part of your life is far enough in the past that you will qualify for coverage. Every insurance provider has different standards, but you may need at least a few years between your last period of time in rehab and the date of your life insurance application.
Certain prescription medications won’t affect your life insurance application one way or another, but there are others that insurers view as an increased risk. In particular, insurers may look for:
- Addiction treatment drugs: Drugs used for the treatment of opioid addiction, such as suboxone, may raise a red flag on your life insurance application and increase your premium.
- Painkillers and muscle relaxers: These prescriptions are typically temporary, so you might want to wait until you’re off them to apply. Given the risk of addiction and fatality when combined with alcohol, disclosing these regular use of these prescriptions may result in a higher premium but it is best practice to be honest with your application.
- Prescription marijuana: If it’s prescribed, you will likely need to explain the underlying issues that resulted in your prescription use of the drug. Depending on the state you live in and the provider’s specific policies, this may have either a positive or negative effect on rates.
Other prescriptions, such as mental health medications, diabetes medications and HIV medications, can also raise your premium because the underlying conditions associated with these medications can lead to an early death. When in doubt, be transparent with the provider on your application and speak with an agent to learn what impact your prescriptions may have on rates or eligibility.
If you only smoke recreationally a few times a year, you may still qualify the lowest rates from some marijuana-friendly life insurance providers. In some cases, you may be classified based on your frequency of use, so if it’s occasional, you can still get good rates. On the other hand, if you’re a daily marijuana smoker, you may be classified as a tobacco smoker, which will typically result in higher premiums.
Drugs like heroin and cocaine are illegal for many reasons, not the least of which is due to the increased health and safety risks associated with abuse of narcotics. Even decades after treatment, previous heroin users have a shortened life expectancy, according to the National Institutes of Health. If you spent time in a rehab facility dealing with your addiction, you’ll need to disclose your past drug use, which may result in higher premiums. However, some insurers may still cover you if you’ve been clean for several years.
Insurers will not, in most cases, cover current illicit drug users. If you currently take illicit drugs or abuse therapeutic drugs not prescribed to you, you will likely be immediately denied by a life insurance company.
What to do if you are denied life insurance because of drug use
If you are currently using drugs, you will likely need to get clean and stay free of drugs for a few years or more before any insurer will cover you. But if you are coping with your addiction and have been clean for years, keep in mind that every insurer weighs your information a little differently when assessing your risk. One insurer might require you to be drug-free for five years, while others could say two years.
Even if you didn’t get denied, it is wise to compare quotes from a few other life insurance providers to keep your insurance costs low since every insurance company will provide a different premium. It may be difficult to determine which company will have the most favorable rates for your situation until you compare.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best life insurance company?
The best life insurance company for you will depend on a number of factors, including your coverage needs and your customized premium amount, as well as whether or not eligibility will be a factor. To find the best provider for you, it can be helpful to calculate your life insurance needs, then choose a handful of providers able to provide the type of coverage you want. Or, you can start with researching insurers that will be more lenient towards your individual health conditions, including past addiction.
Will my life insurance company pay out if I die of a drug overdose?
It depends on the provider and the type of policy you have, as well as the specific circumstances of the overdose. Typically, life insurance companies will pay your beneficiaries if you die from any accident, including an accidental drug overdose. However, if it’s proved that your drug overdose was intentional, there may be some cases in which your beneficiaries wouldn’t get the death benefit. There’s usually a period, typically the first two years after purchasing a policy, when suicide will specifically not be covered. Speak with an agent when shopping for providers to learn how each handles these types of situations.