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Life Insurance and Alcohol

how heavy drinking affects your life insurance

Hi, my boyfriend needs life insurance. He has a history of heavy drinking and is a recovering alcoholic since 2020. We were insured with a company pre alcoholism but stupidly I cancelled the policy. Now that I have had to declare his health when applying to a new insurer he is being declined. We just want to insure against the mortgage. Can you help us? Sarah M

Life Insurance and Alcohol

Getting life insurance or mortgage protection if you enjoy a good drink, but maybe a bit more frequently than the average Joe or Joanne, can be tricky.

I get it – unwinding with a few drinks is a big part of our culture and how we socialise or relax (76% of the Irish population drinks alcohol, with 53% of drinkers doing so at least weekly).

However, life insurance underwriters (the ones who will give your application the  👍 or 👎 are always home in bed early.

So, when getting mortgage protection, being the life of the party, always having a drink in hand can toss in a few extra twists and turns.

Navigating life insurance when you’re a heavier drinker isn’t always straightforward, but that’s where we come in.

We’re here to help you through the process with no judgments and plenty of support.

The first question people ask is:

How Will The Insurer Know If You’re Drinking Too Much?

alcohol and mortgage protection

On the application form for any type of life insurance, you will find two questions:

  1. How much alcohol do you consume weekly?
  2. Have you ever sought help regarding alcohol or been advised to reduce your alcohol consumption by a medical professional?

If you don’t answer these questions honestly, there will be an issue if you or your family ever have to make a claim.

What is Alcohol Dependence?

Alcohol dependence is when someone can’t stop drinking even though it’s causing them problems.

They feel a strong need for alcohol and might get physically sick if they don’t have it.

If they try to stop drinking, they might shake (tremors), feel nervous (anxiety), and see or believe things that aren’t real (delusions).

To get better, they need to stop drinking completely and may need help through counselling.

Can a Problem Drinker Get Mortgage Protection?

If the person has been recently diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder (AUD), it’s not possible to get any type of life insurance, including mortgage protection.

However, if they have been sober for over two years, they may be able to get life insurance.

But, their life insurance plan will significantly increase in price (on average, they’ll pay three times the normal price).

Can a Heavy Drinker get Mortgage Protection?

It depends on whether heavy drinking was in the past or recent.

If it was in the past, the underwriters would look for a detailed medical report before deciding.

Normal liver function tests are key to getting life insurance.

If the person has been advised to reduce their alcohol consumption but continues to drink heavily, they won’t get covered.

What if you Still Drink on Special Occasions?

The insurers are ok with drinking sensibly provided:

  • you have not been diagnosed with an AUD.
  • or told to abstain from alcohol totally.

drinking at a wedding

How Much Will Mortgage Protection Cost?

If the alcohol abuse was recent, i.e. in the last three years, then you are looking at paying premiums of 3-4 times the normal price.

But, if it’s been five years since there was an episode of alcohol abuse, you may get the normal price.

It all comes down to the extent of alcohol abuse, as evidenced in your medical report.

Can you get Life Insurance if you have Cirrhosis?

Generally, the insurers will decline all types of insurance if you have been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver.

However, in the past, I did manage to get a person with mild cirrhosis cover, but the premium was very high.

Can you get Serious Illness Coverage if you Suffer from Alcohol Dependence?

Serious illness cover is possible, but the insurer prefers that you have abstained for over three years before they offer cover.

What about Income Protection?

Unfortunately, income protection is a no-no.

What if all the Insurers Refuse?

If you cannot get cover and need mortgage protection, you can request a waiver from your lender.

We Managed to Get Sarah’s Boyfriend Cover!

Some years ago, my boyfriend was in a tough spot with his drinking habits. At the time it was impacting every aspect of his life, but we didn’t think it would stop us getting a mortgage in the future. That’s when I found Nick’s services. Not only did he help me understand my options, but he also found an insurer willing to give a boyfriend a second chance. We’re moving into our new home next week – thanks Nick and his team at lion!

Over to you…

Would you like to discuss your own situation regarding life insurance and alcohol in confidence?

Maybe you’re trying to find out more information on behalf of someone else?

Some insurers are more sympathetic than others for life insurance and alcohol problems.  

Alcohol misuse is more common than you think in Ireland, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

I‘ve helped many clients in similar situations, so I’ll be able to tell you pretty quickly whether coverage is possible and what your final premium is likely to be. 

Please complete this short alcohol questionnaire, and I’ll discuss your case anonymously with my panel of underwriters and get back to you.

Chat soon.


Resources for Help with Alcoholism

Alcoholics Anonymous

Al Anon Family Groups Are you one of the people affected by someone else’s drinking?

Rise Foundation

Editor’s note: We first published this blog in 2019 and have regularly updated it since.


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