in ,

Life Insurance for Recovering Alcoholics in Canada

Life Insurance for Recovering Alcoholics in Canada
Life Insurance for Recovering Alcoholics in Canada

Overcoming an alcohol addiction and achieving sobriety is an immense accomplishment that deserves celebration. However, the lasting effects of alcoholism can make obtaining affordable life insurance for recovering alcoholics challenging.

In this guide, we’ll explore how alcohol addiction and recovery impact your ability to get life insurance in Canada. You’ll learn:

  • How alcoholism affects your insurability and premiums
  • What coverage options exist at different stages of recovery
  • Expert tips to reduce your rates after becoming sober
  • How to find the most affordable policies from Canada’s top insurers

Getting covered is possible whether you’re newly sober or have maintained your recovery for years. By understanding how insurers perceive recovering alcoholics and taking the proper steps, you can secure life insurance at a reasonable cost.

How Alcoholism Impacts Your Life Insurance Rates in Canada

Let’s start by examining why insurers charge higher premiums for applicants with a history of alcohol dependence.

Insurers make money by collecting regular premium payments from policyholders. In return, they promise to pay a lump sum death benefit when the insured person dies.

Naturally, insurers want to avoid losses, so they carefully assess each applicant to determine the risk of insuring them. Those perceived as riskier due to old age, poor health, or dangerous hobbies or behaviours will be charged higher premiums. If the risk is too high, they may be denied coverage altogether.

When it comes to recovering alcoholics, insurers are mainly concerned with the long-term effects on your health and life expectancy.

Health Risks of Chronic Alcohol Abuse

According to Globalnews, alcohol consumption was linked to 7,000 new cancer cases in 2020.


In 2021, there were 3,875 alcohol-induced deaths in Canada.


Long-term heavy drinking is linked to a multitude of potentially fatal illnesses, including:

  • Heart damage – Increases risk of arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, stroke
  • Liver disease – Fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis
  • Cancer – Liver, mouth, throat, colon, breast
  • Brain damage – Memory loss, dementia, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome
  • Mental disorders – Depression, anxiety disorders, suicide

Those with an alcohol use disorder also face much higher risks of injury or death from accidents, violence, suicides, and alcohol poisoning.

Given these dire health statistics, it’s clear why insurers are wary of insuring recovering alcoholics, especially early in their sobriety.

Classification of Heavy Drinking

First off, what constitutes heavy or excessive drinking in the eyes of insurers?

While definitions vary slightly between insurance companies, the consensus is:

  • For men, heavy drinking means consuming more than four drinks daily or 14 drinks weekly
  • For women, heavy drinking means consuming more than three drinks daily or ten drinks weekly

One standard drink is considered:

  • 341 ml (12 oz.) bottle of 5% beer or cider
  • 142 ml (5 oz.) glass of 12% wine
  • 43 ml (1.5 oz.) shot of 40% distilled spirits like whisky, rum, vodka, etc.


Drinking above these limits places you squarely in the “high risk” category for life insurance underwriting.

Investigating Applicants for Alcohol Abuse

Insurers have multiple methods to uncover alcoholism and heavy drinking, even if you try to hide it.

The life insurance medical exam routinely involves lab tests like:

  • Complete blood count (CBC) – Looks for anemia and blood cell abnormalities signalling liver disease.
  • Liver enzymes test – Elevated levels indicate liver injury from alcohol.
  • CDT blood test – Detects carbohydrate-deficient transferrin, a biomarker of heavy drinking.

The detailed medical history report from your doctor may also reveal previous treatment for alcohol dependence or related medical issues.

Finally, the life insurance questionnaire will probe into your alcohol consumption habits, including:

  • Frequency and quantity of drinking
  • History of addiction treatment
  • Participation in support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Any recent alcohol-related driving offences

With these screening tools, it’s tough to hide a drinking problem from insurers.

What Impact The Cost Of Life Insurance for Recovering Alcoholics

What Impact The Cost Of Life Insurance for Recovering Alcoholics
What Impact The Cost Of Life Insurance for Recovering Alcoholics

Now that we’ve examined why insurers are concerned about alcohol abuse let’s examine how it affects policy premiums.

The biggest deciding factor is the length of time you’ve maintained sobriety. However, other factors, like your overall health and lifestyle choices, also influence your rates.

Life Insurance Rates Based on Years Sober

As a general guideline, you can expect the following premium rates depending on how long you’ve been alcohol-free:

Less than two years sober

  • Most insurers will decline coverage outright or only offer modified guaranteed issue plans with limited payouts.
  • No possibility of qualifying for traditional underwritten life insurance policies.

2 to 5 years sober

  • You can likely obtain fully underwritten term or permanent life insurance.
  • However, recovering alcoholics with 2-3 years of sobriety may expect to pay, on average, 150-300% higher premiums compared to standard rates
  • For those with 4-5 years of sobriety, the average premium increase compared to standard rates may drop to around 50-100%
  • Multiple insurers will likely decline coverage or limit policy amounts.

5 to 10 years sober

  • Now you are in reach of standard rate premiums.
  • Potentially 25% to 50% higher costs than a non-drinker of the same age and health.
  • Most insurers will approve, but some are still cautious and may surcharge.

Over ten years sober

  • Eligible for preferred or standard rate premiums from most insurers.
  • Same rates as non-drinkers as long as you maintain good health.
  • Various term, permanent, and universal life policies are available.

As you can see, maintaining long-term sobriety is critical to overcoming the insurability challenges and higher premiums faced early in recovery.

Table: Life Insurance Sample Monthly Premiums by Years Sober

Years SoberSample Monthly Premiums for a 40-year-old male with $500,000 20-year-term policy
Less than 2 yearsLikely not insurable
2-4 years$90-$180
5-10 years$56-$67
10+ years$40*-$45

Other Factors Impacting Life Insurance Rates

While sobriety length is the primary determining factor, insurers also consider:

  • Your overall health – Even after long-term sobriety, poor health leads to higher premiums. Maintaining fitness and managing any emerging health issues helps secure lower rates.
  • Treatment and counselling – Insurers reward recovering alcoholics who participate in support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or receive professional counselling. It demonstrates your commitment to continued recovery.
  • DUIs and accidents – Alcohol-related driving offences within the past five years will increase costs. Multiple DUIs make getting covered more difficult.
  • Employment stability – The inability to hold steady jobs due to drinking may negatively impact your rating.

Maintaining your health, sobriety, and stability in all aspects of life is critical. This puts you in the best position for affordable life insurance after recovery.

Types of Life Insurance for Recovering Alcoholics

Types of Life Insurance for Recovering Alcoholics
life buzz quote in canada new 8 1
Types of Life Insurance for Recovering Alcoholics

Now, let’s explore the different life insurance policy options tailored to those recovering from alcohol addiction.

The type of insurance you qualify for largely depends on your current length of sobriety. But with an experienced broker’s help, coverage is available at any stage.

For Early Recovery – Modified Guaranteed Life Insurance for Recovering Alcoholics

If you’re newly sober or have up to 2 years of recovery under your belt, traditional underwritten policies will be out of reach.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t get any coverage. At this stage, your options include:

Final expense life insurance for Recovering Alcoholics

  • Covers funeral and final medical costs up to ~$15,000.
  • Small benefits but guaranteed acceptance.

Guaranteed issue life insurance for Recovering Alcoholics

  • Pays $10,000 to $25,000 lump sum to beneficiaries.
  • No medical exam is required for approval.

Group life insurance for Recovering Alcoholics

  • Offered through employer benefit plans.
  • Limited payouts but easy to qualify for.

These simplified issue products provide a basic level of protection when you otherwise may not qualify.

After 2 Years of Sobriety – Underwritten Life Insurance for Recovering Alcoholics

Most insurers will consider you for fully underwritten policies once you have at least 2 to 3 years of sobriety. This includes:

Term life insurance

  • Provides pure death benefit protection for 10 to 30 years.
  • Most affordable form of life insurance.
  • Ideal for family income replacement needs.

Read more: What Affects Term Life Insurance Rates?

Permanent life insurance

  • Lifelong coverage for final expenses and inheritance wishes.
  • More expensive but builds cash value savings.

At this stage of recovery, expect to pay higher premiums than standard rates. However, you’ll have access to larger death benefits than guaranteed issue plans.

Read more: How does permanent life insurance work?

5+ Years Sober – Access to Standard Life Insurance Rates for Recovering Alcoholics

Achieving standard rating status is a pivotal milestone that opens up many affordable insurance options:

Universal life insurance for Recovering Alcoholics

  • Combine permanent life insurance with a tax-sheltered investment account.
  • Premiums and death benefits can be adjusted over time.

Term life insurance for Recovering Alcoholics

  • Renew policies at standard rates upon expiry.
  • 10-year convertible terms allow switching to permanent insurance.

Accelerated death benefits for Recovering Alcoholics

  • Use a portion of the death benefit while living if diagnosed with a critical illness.

Regaining insurability unlocks many valuable policy features to protect your family and business interests.

Expert Tips to Get Affordable Life Insurance for Recovering Alcoholics

Expert Tips to Get Affordable Life Insurance for Recovering Alcoholics
Expert Tips to Get Affordable Life Insurance for Recovering Alcoholics

The road to affordable life insurance may seem daunting early in recovery. Fortunately, these pro tips can help you secure reduced rates and improve your chances of approval:

Maintain sobriety at all costs

Multiple relapses will set you back and require several more years of sustained recovery before qualifying for lower rates.

Actively manage your health

Get healthier through diet, exercise, and medical checkups. Insurers reward fit applicants.

Prioritize counselling and support groups

Seeking professional treatment demonstrates you’re committed to lifelong recovery.

Shop for term life insurance

Much lower premiums compared to permanent insurance with equivalent death benefits.

Accept a smaller initial policy

Applying for less coverage means insurers take less risk approving you.

Lock in coverage you can afford now

Reapply later when qualified for more extensive policies at better rates.

Work with an experienced independent broker

They’ll help you navigate the complex underwriting process and know which insurers may offer you the best rates.

Following these tips helps you overcome early recovery challenges and makes affordable life insurance attainable in the long term.

Where To Purchase Life Insurance for Recovering Alcoholics

Purchasing life insurance as a recovering alcoholic in Canada can seem confusing. However, you have a few options to explore quotes and policies from various insurers.

  • Comparison websites

Get quotes from over 15 insurers by answering a few questions via sites like and This site offers a high-level overview of potential rates.

  • Individual life insurance companies

Major Canadian life insurance companies like Sun Life, RBC Insurance, iA Financial and Canada Life have online quoting tools and agents you can contact directly.

  • Life insurance brokers

Independent brokers like Dundas Life sell your case to dozens of insurers. This is key to finding your niche insurers willing to offer preferred sober rates.

  • Online life insurance agencies

Newer digital platforms like PolicyMe allow you to compare, quote, and apply for coverage online. Offers convenience but a more limited insurer selection.

  • Workplace group benefits

Many employers provide group life insurance for employees up to $200,000. It is easy to qualify, but coverage ends if you leave your job.

Overall, working with an experienced independent broker is ideal. They have in-depth knowledge of insurer underwriting appetites and can best match you with a carrier tailored to your situation.

Pros and Cons of Life Insurance for Recovering Alcoholics

The following are some key advantages and potential drawbacks to weigh when considering life insurance in addiction recovery:

Pros of Life Insurance for Recovering Alcoholics

  • Protects loved ones against loss of income due to premature death
  • Peace of mind knowing funeral costs are covered
  • Qualify for preferred rates after maintaining long-term recovery
  • Underwritten policies build cash value that can be borrowed

Cons of Life Insurance for Recovering Alcoholics

  • Higher premium costs, especially early in sobriety
  • Possibly insufficient coverage if higher amounts are unavailable
  • Must disclose alcohol abuse history, which delays application
  • Relapse may trigger reevaluation and rate increases

The pros generally outweigh the cons, as some coverage is better than none. Rates also improve over time.

When applying for life insurance with pre-existing conditions, be aware that other diagnoses like Cancer, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and Heart Disease… can also impact your eligibility and premium rates. Refer to these helpful resources of Lifebuzz for more information :

Conclusion – Life Insurance for Recovering Alcoholics is Attainable

The life insurance application process will likely prove more difficult and expensive for a recovering alcoholic compared to a non-drinker.

However, coverage is still within reach. Maintaining your health and sobriety over the long term can make you insurable at standard rates after 5 to 10 years.

Simplified guaranteed issue policies also make getting smaller amounts of instant coverage possible when first becoming sober.

While premiums will be higher initially, the financial protection and peace of mind life insurance provides make it a worthwhile investment into your continued recovery and a sober future.

With an experienced life insurance broker guiding you, recovering alcoholics in Canada can secure affordable coverage tailored to their unique circumstances.

Contact Lifebuzz today if you have questions about obtaining life insurance or comparing quotes from top Canadian providers. We’re here to help you protect your family and your legacy.

FAQs on life insurance for recovering alcoholics in Canada

What is the waiting period to get affordable life insurance for recovering alcoholics?

You may have to wait at least five years of documented sobriety to get standard life insurance rates. 2-5 years sober will qualify you for a policy but with higher rates.

Can I get life insurance for recovering alcoholics if I have liver damage?

Yes, mild liver damage is insurable but will lead to higher premiums. Severe liver disease like cirrhosis can make getting approved challenging.

What's the maximum policy amount I can get with life insurance for recovering alcoholics?

In early recovery, guaranteed issue policies top out at around $25,000-50,000 in coverage. After a few years sober, you can get over $1 million in coverage.

Will I qualify for life insurance for recovering alcoholics if I've had a liver transplant?

Yes, you can get coverage but expect higher premiums, even 10+ years after the transplant. Limited options exist for transplants.

Can I get rated for preferred life insurance for recovering alcoholics after ten years sober?

Yes, 10+ years of soberness, good health, and no complications qualify you for the preferred "plus" rates reserved for the healthiest folks.

Is there any life insurance for recovering alcoholics specifically designed for senior citizens?

Yes, guaranteed issue final expense policies up to $25,000 are available for seniors even in early recovery. Low payouts but guaranteed approval.

What benefits should I look for with life insurance for recovering alcoholics?

Accelerated death benefits allow you to access a portion of the death benefit if you are diagnosed with a critical illness while living.

What types of policies are best for life insurance for recovering alcoholics?

Guaranteed issue while newly sober. Then, term life insurance for 5-10 years of affordable pure protection. Then, consider permanent policies.

Are there any life insurance companies that specialize in applicants with an alcoholism history?

Some of the most recovery-friendly insurers include SBLI, Principal, Foresters Financial, William Penn Life Insurance, and Columbus Life.

Can I still get life insurance for recovering alcoholics if I've had alcohol-induced cardiovascular disease?

Yes, but even after getting sober, expect to pay higher premiums due to the increased health risk.

Will being prescribed Antabuse (disulfiram) help me get life insurance for recovering alcoholics?

Yes, being actively prescribed Antabuse medication demonstrates you are committed to maintaining sobriety, which insurers view favourably.

How do I find the cheapest life insurance for recovering alcoholics quote?

An independent broker can easily compare quotes across dozens of top insurers to find you the most affordable rate based on your unique situation.

Can I get a preferred no-medical exam life insurance policy for recovering alcoholics?

While newly sober, you can get guaranteed issue no exam plans. For preferred rates, you'll need to medically qualify by being 5+ years sober with good health markers.

What can I do to improve my chances of getting approved for life insurance for recovering alcoholics?

Reaching five years sober, maintaining stellar health, participating in Alcoholics Anonymous, holding a steady job, and having stable finances will maximize your odds.

Is it better to apply for life insurance for recovering alcoholics online or through an agent?

An experienced independent agent will best guide you through the underwriting intricacies and advocate on your behalf to insurers.

What if I relapse after being approved for life insurance for recovering alcoholics?

If you keep paying premiums, your rate cannot increase, and coverage cannot be cancelled. However, a relapse must be disclosed at renewal and may lead to a rate hike.

Is veteran's life insurance a good option for recovering alcoholics?

Yes, the Veterans Affairs Insurance programs provide guaranteed issue coverage of up to $10,000 for veterans in early recovery.

Can I convert term life insurance to permanent coverage if I'm a recovering alcoholic?

Yes, you can convert your term policy to whole life or universal life insurance without any new medical underwriting, maintaining your original sober approval.

What is the life insurance for recovering alcoholics' claim process if the cause of death is unrelated to alcohol?

The claims process will be straightforward. Your beneficiary must submit a death certificate and any other documents the insurer requests to receive the payout.

Can life insurance for recovering alcoholics deny a claim if they relapse before death?

No, a relapse alone will not lead to a denied claim as long as you continue paying premiums. The cause of death itself determines claim eligibility.

Will my life insurance for recovering alcoholics claim to be investigated if I die from something like cirrhosis?

Yes, the insurer will thoroughly review medical records to determine if alcohol caused or contributed to the cirrhosis. The claim could be denied if alcohol was a factor.

How does life insurance for recovering alcoholics investigate claims involving alcohol?

Insurers will order coroner's reports, medical examiner findings, toxicology tests, police records, and interviews with doctors and family to assess the role of alcohol.

What if I die within the first two years from alcoholism - will my life insurance for recovering alcoholics claim to be denied?

If you die explicitly due to alcohol within the first two years, the claim will be investigated and likely denied. All circumstances are reviewed in claims.

Can life insurance for recovering alcoholics require an autopsy to approve a claim?

Yes, the insurer may require an autopsy to definitively determine the cause of death and alcohol's contribution, especially within the first five years of getting coverage.

Do life insurance for recovering alcoholics claims get approved if death results from an accident while intoxicated?

Each case depends on specific circumstances. Insurers may deny the claim if alcohol caused impairments directly leading to the accident.

How can I prepare my beneficiaries for filing a claim with life insurance for recovering alcoholics?

Inform them the process may require significant medical records review and interviews if alcohol could potentially be involved in the death.

Insurers have specialized medical underwriters who review all records to determine if alcohol usage led to or exacerbated the health conditions causing death.

How long does it take to get a life insurance for recovering alcoholics claim payout?

If alcohol is not involved, payout takes 2-4 weeks after submitting documentation. Alcohol-related claims often take 3-6 months for full investigation.

What happens if toxicology shows alcohol at the time of death with life insurance for recovering alcoholics?

The amount and circumstances will determine if it affected judgement or health conditions leading to death. Possible denial if directly implicated.

Can I appeal if my life insurance for recovering alcoholics claim gets denied due to alcohol?

Yes, you can appeal and provide additional medical evidence refuting the role of alcohol in the death. But overturned denials are rare without definitive proof.

Article Sources:

To fully appreciate our rigorous adherence to veracity, transparency, and editorial independence, consider reviewing our Editorial Policy at It is this dedication that positions us as the ultimate dependable life insurance news outlet in Canada.

  1. Three Tips for Recovering Alcoholics Applying for Life Insurance –
  2. Getting Life Insurance as a Recovering Alcoholic –
Rate this post

Written by Ben Nguyen

Ben Nguyen is an award-winning insurance expert and industry veteran with over 20 years of experience. He is the chairman and director of IDC Insurance Direct Canada Inc., one of Canada's leading online insurance brokerages.

Ben is renowned for his extensive knowledge of life, health, disability, and travel insurance products. He is the prolific author of over 1,000 educational articles published on LifeBuzz, BestInsuranceOnline, and InsuranceDirectCanada. His articles provide Canadians with advice on making smart insurance decisions.

With a Bachelor's degree in Actuarial Science and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (FCIA) designation, Ben is frequently interviewed by media as an insurance industry spokesperson.

He has received numerous honors including the Insurance Council of Canada’s Pivotal Leadership Award, the Canadian Insurance Hall of Fame induction, and the President’s Medal from the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.

Ben continues to shape the vision and strategy of IDC Insurance Direct as chairman. He is dedicated to advancing the insurance industry through his insightful leadership.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

    Life Insurance with Hepatitis in Canada, An Extensive Guide for Patients

    Life Insurance with Hepatitis in Canada: An Extensive Guide for Patients

    Life Insurance with Thyroid Cancer in Canada

    Life Insurance with Thyroid Cancer in Canada