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Life insurance and alcohol consumption

Questions about alcohol consumption are part of almost every life insurance application. Insurers will want to understand how much you drink, how regularly, and whether you’ve ever had any alcohol problems.

What is normal alcohol consumption?

According to the NHS, the recommended limit for a healthy adult is 14 units, which is equivalent to 6 pints of moderate strength beer, or 10 small glasses of wine.

If you need life insurance to protect your family, and you regularly drink alcohol, then there are a few things to consider.

Alcohol consumption is one of the most subjective questions when you apply for life cover. You’ll be asked ‘on average, how much alcohol do you consume in a week’, which is difficult to answer for many people.

Drinking habits can vary dramatically at different times of the year, and for special occasions.

Here we’ll explain how life insurance considers different levels of alcohol consumption.

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About alcohol consumption life insurance

Whether you’re a social drinker, ex-drinker, recovering alcoholic, or currently suffering due to alcoholism, there are options available for you.

The most important thing is that you get the right life cover to protect your family and that you pay a fair price.

Levels of alcohol for life insurance

The amount of alcohol that you drink (on average), is part of your life insurance application. Some insurance providers will also ask what different types of drinks you consume, which is also difficult to answer.

If you want to know how much alcohol you consume each week in units, then there are online tools available.

Link: Alcohol Unit Calculator

Units of alcohol

Type of drink% (abv)Units (avg.)
Bottle of lager / beer / cider51.7
Can of lager / beer / cider5.52.7
Pint of low-strength lager / cider / beer3.62
Pint of high-strength lager / cider / beer5.23
Small glass of wine121.5
Standard glass of wine122.1
Large glass of wine123
Small measure of fortified wine17.50.9
Large measure of fortified wine17.51.3
Single-shot of spirits401
Standard shot of spirits401.4
Double shot of spirits402

Life insurance declined alcohol

There are certain reasons why you might have been declined life insurance because of alcohol. That doesn’t mean that life cover isn’t available to you and you should definitely check with an expert.

Some of the main reasons why insurers decline cover because of alcohol:

  • Alcoholism
  • Alcohol dependency
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Alcoholic related medical problems

Some insurance providers are certainly more accepting than others when it comes to underwriting alcohol-related issues. You might have simply applied to the wrong company for life cover previously which is very common.


Life insurance medical exam for alcohol

If you apply for life insurance then you may be asked to complete a medical exam or provide medical evidence from your GP. This is pretty common as around 30% of all life insurance applications will go through medical underwriting.

Some of the main reasons why you might be asked to have a medical exam

  • Financial limit: you’ve applied for a large amount of cover (e.g. £500k+)
  • Pre-existing medical conditions: you’ve disclosed certain medical conditions on your application
  • Lifestyle: something that you’ve declared to do with your lifestyle requires further information

A medical exam can involve:

  • Blood test
  • HIV test
  • Urine test
  • Cotinine test (smoking)
  • Height and weight (BMI)

The exam that will be most telling is the life insurance blood test for alcohol, which will show any underlying health conditions linked to alcohol intake.

GP or medical reports

If you’ve been asked to provide your medical records from your GP, then this will identify anything you have seen your doctor about. If you have had medical advice about alcohol use or dependency, then this will be taken into account.

Alcohol questions for life insurance

When you apply for life insurance, you’ll be asked a few questions about alcohol to establish your own circumstances. These questions are designed to let underwriters know how much alcohol you drink, how often, and any alcohol-related problems.

Questions about alcohol include:

  • How much alcohol do you drink in an average week? (this is an average over the year so make sure you consider all circumstances)
  • Have you ever been advised to reduce your alcohol intake by a health professional?
  • What type of alcoholic drinks do you consume?
  • Have you been referred to an alcohol specialist or alcohol support group?

The answers to these questions will allow underwriters to assess your application for life insurance.

Blood tests will usually identify:

  • HIV
  • Cholesterol
  • Blood glucose (diabetes)

Life insurance alcohol tests are not specifically just for this but will identify potential risks and things linked to alcohol intake.

Life insurance alcohol marker

There are tolerance levels for life insurance when it comes to alcohol consumption. These levels will vary depending on your insurer, age, health, and lifestyle.

Some insurance providers are more tolerant than others when it comes to life insurance for alcoholism. If you have declared certain health conditions linked to alcohol abuse then the levels of tolerance can be reduced.

The recommended levels for alcohol consumption are around 14 units per week so that is generally where insurers want people to be. If you are a heavy drinker and well above that level then there could be other questions about your health.

Alcoholism life insurance

The term widely used for heavy drinking, alcohol abuse, or alcohol dependency is ‘alcoholism’. Anyone considered to be an alcoholic may find it slightly more complicated to get life cover.

If you are currently classed as an alcoholic and you need life insurance, then there are people that can help. Experts in this area would be better suited to offer you the best advice based on their experience and expertise.

Life insurance for ex-alcoholics

It is easier to get life cover if you are no longer classed as an alcoholic, or you’re an ex-alcoholic. If you’re an ex-alcoholic or recovering alcoholic then it usually depends on how long ago you were an alcoholic.

Generally, the longer it has been since you were classed as alcohol dependent, the better it is. If you’ve only just given up drinking or significantly reduced your alcohol intake then you may have slightly less choice.

Most of the questions around alcoholism will be in the last 5 years or 10 years, depending on what it is asking.

Medical conditions linked to alcoholism

There’s a number of health and medical conditions that can be closely linked to long-term alcohol abuse or alcoholism.

Some of these conditions include:

If you an ex-alcoholic, then the risks of developing these will reduce over time as your health returns to normal.

Life insurance and alcohol deaths

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics between January and September 2020, hit the highest levels since records began in 2001.

In this 9 month period, during the first Covid lockdown and beyond, there were 5,460 alcohol-related deaths recorded. This was an increase of 16% compared to the same period in 2019 and the highest ever recorded.

The peak of 12.8 deaths per 100,000 people was reached in the first three months of 2020 and continued at the same level until September 2020.

Life insurance payout alcohol-related death

A life insurance policy will pay out a lump sum to your family if you die during the term of your cover. There is no reason why your life cover should exclude anything to do with alcohol-related death.

The only exclusions that will apply to a standard life insurance policy are suicide in the first 12 or 24 months, depending on the insurer.

You must disclose anything to do with any pre-existing medical conditions, or any lifestyle-related issues, such as alcoholism. If you fail to disclose facts or material information about your health then that may invalidate any future claim.

Common questions about alcoholism

What is considered an alcoholic?

Reasonable alcohol levels for females are 3 drinks a day, or seven drinks in a week. Male levels are slightly higher, at 4 per day or fourteen in a week. Consistently drinking more than these levels is considered to be at risk.

What causes a person to be an alcoholic?

There are several common or well-known causes for alcoholism which include, biological elements, environmental factors, and psychological elements. It is difficult to identify exactly what causes someone to become alcohol dependent, and of course, this can vary dramatically.

What is the average life expectancy of an alcoholic?

Currently, the average life expectancy for a male with alcohol dependency or alcoholism is suggested to be between 47 and 53 years. The same figure for females is suggested to be between 50 and 58 years.

Useful resources for alcoholism

Here are some useful links and resources for people suffering from alcohol dependency or alcohol-related illnesses

NHS Choices – Alcohol support
Link: Alcohol support – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

NHS Choices – Drug addiction: getting help
Link: Drug addiction: getting help – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

NHS Choices – Alcohol misuse (Treatment)
Link: Alcohol misuse – Treatment – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Alcoholics anonymous – charity
Link: Alcoholics Anonymous – Great Britain (alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk)

We are with you – charity
Link: Home – We Are With You

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