Ron Attias is a licensed insurance broker. He has no particular loyalty to any one insurance company, so he is able to shop all major insurance carriers. This means that you always get the BEST plan at the LOWEST price. Each plan can be customized to fit your specific healthcare needs and budget.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insur...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years

UPDATED: Nov 2, 2019

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If you abused drugs in the past and are wondering if you have a chance to get approved for a traditional life policy, this post is for you. Let me start with the brutal reality first: Anyone who is currently abusing a substance will be declined for insurance.

Now that we’ve gotten this out of the way, let’s find out how long after substance abuse you should wait before applying, the underwriting process, and the expected rates you can get.

Life Insurance and Substance Abuse

Substance abuse refers to the extreme dependency on any harmful element to alter moods or feelings which leads to significant impairment. When you apply for life insurance, the carrier is interested in your mortality risk, which estimates the likelihood or odds of your death due to health, family history, and driving habits among many others.

Anytime you pose a higher risk than the average person, you will either pay extra or get declined, it’s as simple as that. Many drugs (illegal or not) have the potential for addiction, which can lead to unfortunate premature death either through overdose, DUI, or toxic effects on vital organs.

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What Are the Insurance Companies Looking for When Insuring Individuals with a History of Substance Abuse?

I understand that asking questions about someone’s drug abuse history may make them uncomfortable or reluctant to answer. Some think that those with a history of drug addiction aren’t moral or are mentally weak. Others might think that drug addicts have gone through a difficult childhood or had nasty professors in college who ruined their personality. However, this isn’t the case.

Drug abuse is an epidemic that doesn’t care about financial status, color, race, or gender. In fact, it can strike anyone at any age or time. That being said, I consider an individual as a role model if they had the strength and the willpower to abandon their distractive lifestyle and currently live a clean life. Let’s take a look at the questions you will need to answer.

1. What Was the Date of Initial Treatment or Diagnosis?

The underwriter is under the impression that you have had a treatment in the past because a current user is not eligible for coverage. It’s a straightforward question to estimate the time that had passed since your last drug or substance usage. You need to be clean for at least two years, preferably longer, to apply for a conventional term policy. Less than that, you are looking at guaranteed issue life insurance.

2. What Drug(s) Were Used or Abused?

Keep in mind that even legal drugs can be abused. The question has nothing to do with how you acquired the drugs or if they were prescribed to you or not. The question is about the substance of choice because the harder the drug, the easier it is to get back to it and put the insurance company on the hook for future claims if you die as a result. Here are a few examples:

  • Narcotics: Opium, heroin, morphine, codeine
  • Hallucinogens: Marijuana, PCP, LSD, mescaline, ecstasy
  • Stimulants: Cocaine, amphetamine
  • Sedatives: Glue, gasoline, solvents, amyl nitrate
  • Other: Anabolic steroids

3. Were There Any Relapses from Sobriety/Abstinence?

Relapses are an issue for the insurance company. Anytime you were absent for a few years and gotten back to it, the underwriter will count from the time that you were last out of treatment and not that you had a drug problem 20 years ago.

The severity of associated complications along with numbers of relapses and the type of drugs are a significant concern to the underwriter. Keep in mind that participation in a group such as Narcotics Anonymous is a favorable matter for the insurance company and your loved ones.

The longer you stay there, the smaller the chances you will get back to it. Make sure you mention it on the application or the cover letter when you submit an application.

4. Were There Any Legal Problems?

This is another obvious question since substance abuse may lead to adverse driving records such as DUI or criminal activity to supplement their drug habit. If you have any legal issues, your application will probably get declined.

5. Have There Been Physical Complications or Additional Psychiatric Problems?

Drug addiction has many implications for the individual’s mental and physical health. The physical health can be heart attacks, seizures, or stroke among many others. Mental health ailments such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, and delirium are what the underwriter is trying to evaluate when it comes to your overall risk. Any other health ailments as a result of drug or substance abuse will lead to higher rates or a declined application.

What Other Questions Will the Underwriter Ask?

It’s not over yet. The underwriting process is long and daunting. However, after reading this article, you can be prepared instead of being surprised by the questions. It goes without saying but worth repeating: Be honest when you fill out an application. If not, you are not only risking insurance fraud but also jeopardizing your heirs’ ability to collect the death claim. Below are a few more questions you will need to answer:

  • Current age
  • Gender
  • State of residence
  • Height and weight
  • Income and liabilities
  • Occupation
  • High-risk hobbies (if any)
  • Current and past health history
  • Family history
  • Foreign travel
  • Smoking habits
  • Alcohol habits
  • Driving history
  • Criminal history
  • Prescription usage

What Rate Class Can I Qualify for If I Have History of Substance Abuse?

As I addressed in previous articles: Estimating life insurance rates without knowing the overall health, family history, prescription use, or age will be impossible. Each person has different health history, type of drug abused, and severity, so take this paragraph with a grain of salt.

  • Limited use of Marijuana: You can qualify for Nonsmoker Plus to Table B rating class.
  • Heavy use of Marijuana: You can expect Table D to Table F.
  • Other substances:
    • Under 2 years: Decline
    • 3–5 years: Standard to Table F
    • 7–10 years: Eligible for Preferred rate

Takeaway: Keep in mind that each company has its unique underwriting process which they use to classify your health and consequently determine your final rates. Our job as brokers is to place you with the best company which has the highest chance of approving your policy.

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Life Insurance with History of Substance Abuse Sample Monthly Rates

40-Year-Old Male Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term

 Health Class $100,000 $250,000 $500,000
 Preferred $13.03 $21.66 $37.63
 Standard  $18.23 $32.59 $59.94
 Table B $23.49 $41.67 $75.60
 Table D $29.57 $53.81 $98.96
 Table F $35.58 $64.38 $120.49
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40-Year-Old Female Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term

 Health Class $100,000 $250,000 $500,000
 Preferred $11.43 $18.81 $32.38
 Standard  $16.10 $28.87 $51.93
 Table B  $20.34 $34.41 $62.63
 Table D $25.37 $44.03 $81.66
 Table F $27.08 $52.35 $94.02
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50-Year-Old Male Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term

 Health Class $100,000 $250,000 $500,000
 Preferred $26.53 $49.44 $91.18
 Standard  $37.36 $77.31 $143.59
 Table B $49.22 $98.11 $187.19
 Table D $63.87 $129.06 $247.74
 Table F $78.93 $152.46 $293.77
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50-Year-Old Female Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term

 Health Class $100,000 $250,000 $500,000
 Preferred $19.92 $37.80 $69.08
 Standard $29.05 $58.36 $110.95
 Table B $38.98 $73.17 $137.23
 Table D $50.22 $94.63 $181.13
 Table F $60.45 $115.80 $221.02
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60-Year-Old Male Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term

 Health Class $100,000 $250,000 $500,000
 Preferred $64.79 $127.83 $243.38
 Standard $91.85 $204.70 $392.71
 Table B $126.00 $251.41 $492.75
 Table D $166.25 $333.37 $655.15
 Table F $196.66 $403.21 $795.27
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60-Year-Old Female Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term

 Health Class $100,000 $250,000 $500,000
 Preferred $42.96 $92.97 $170.12
 Standard $65.62 $143.50 $273.89
 Table B $86.10 $175.83 $337.70
 Table D $113.05 $232.60 $448.42
 Table F $136.73 $282.51 $550.68
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Bottom Line

Getting life insurance with a history of drug abuse can be a disheartening process. The health questions, complications, severity, or drug types may make it challenging for you. Note that HIPAA protects any health information you disclose to the insurance company, so hopefully, this makes you feel better.

It is in your best interest to work with a broker who has the extensive knowledge in helping you secure the right policy for your loved ones. Our service costs you nothing because we get paid by the insurance carrier. We represent more than 50 companies, and we promise to present all options and let you decide for yourself. We do not recommend that you use the quote engine on our page as the quotes will not be accurate.