Life Insurance for Recovering Addicts in Canada

Talk to one of our experienced advisors, today!

13 minute read
Originally published: June 21, 2022
Updated: May 25, 2023

Life Insurance for Recovering Addicts

Life Insurance for Recovering Addicts in Canada

Talk to one of our experienced advisors today!

13 Minute read

Originally published: June 21, 2022
Updated: May 25, 2023


Life Insurance for Recovering Addicts

Having a drug addiction is an extremely tough adversity, and the road to recovery is not easy but it is a high possibility to recover and live a sober lifestyle. A history of addiction, or undiagnosed drug addiction, will heavily affect your premiums because of the health dangers it presents.

Navigating life insurance can be a challenging task for anyone, but it can be particularly daunting for recovering addicts in Canada. Many insurance companies perceive individuals with a history of substance abuse as high-risk, which can result in coverage denial. 

However, obtaining life insurance is not impossible for those in recovery. In fact, having life insurance offers peace of mind and financial security for both individuals and their loved ones. 

This comprehensive guide aims to equip you with the necessary knowledge and tools to navigate the process of obtaining life insurance confidently.

Occasionally, we get clients who are recovering from drug addiction and are looking for life insurance. Most recovering addicts are worried that they won’t qualify for a policy because it’s only been a short time since they’ve been sober, and so they will ask “can I get life insurance if I’m a recovering addict?”

Can I get life insurance if I am a recovering addict

The answer is yes! No matter what stage you are at in your recovery, there is an insurance product available for you. 

How addiction impacts life insurance

The risk of insuring a drug addict or recovering drug addict is higher than that of the average applicant, underwriters must conduct more thorough evaluations of the recovering addict’s age, health, occupation,  lifestyle, medical history, risk, and other factors.

There are a number of risks involved with substance abuse and the long-term effects of drug usage can vary depending on the substance, the consumption amount and the longevity of consumption. Substance abuse can lead to several health issues and even accidental injuries due to being under the influence. Some of the illnesses and conditions associated to drug use include, but are not limited to: 

As a result of these risks associated with drug addiction and drug use, those who abuse substances excessively are given higher ratings for life insurance than those who consume drugs recreationally or are recovering. However, it’s important to remember that addiction is a treatable medical condition, and many life insurance companies are willing to provide coverage to individuals in recovery.

How do life insurance companies view drug usage? 

As for prior drug usage, there are many different kinds of guidelines regarding drug usage history which differ from company to company, as most require you to be sober for a certain amount of time. There are many factors that come into play at how life insurance companies view drug usage. It really comes down to the drug that you use and in some cases how often you use it. 

Alcoholism and alcohol consumption

When it comes to life insurance, alcohol use is a red flag for insurers. This is because excessive alcohol consumption can lead to a wide range of health problems, including liver disease, heart disease, and cancer. As a result, individuals who consume large amounts of alcohol are more likely to have a shorter life expectancy, which means they are a higher risk for insurers.

Recovering alcoholics can buy traditional life insurance after two to three years of sobriety and will pay much higher rates than people with no history of alcohol addiction. If you’re not sure how much drinking is considered excessive or heavy, insurers will consider 3-4 drinks per day as heavy drinking. Or, if they are looking for instant life insurance, guaranteed issue life insurance will accept their application and provide coverage no matter what. 

If you’re a frequent drinker, it’s essential to be upfront with your insurer about your alcohol consumption. Failing to disclose this information could result in your policy being canceled or your beneficiaries being denied the benefits they’re entitled to. However, if you’re a responsible drinker, you can still get affordable life insurance coverage.

Hard drug usage

Recovering hard drug users can get life insurance if they have been sober for a certain amount of time. Although it varies for each life insurance company, there is typically a requirement of being sober for at least 5 years, while others require you to be sober for at least 10 year. This being said, due to the long term health issues that are caused by hard drugs, there will be an increase in your premiums even if you have been sober for 10 years. Luckily, these premiums can still be quite affordable and the underwritten coverage is the best compared to other types of life insurance policies. 

If you are currently using hard drugs you will be declined by all traditional underwritten life insurance policies, but you actually might be able to get no-medical or guaranteed issue life insurance. These are generally more expensive life insurance policies and have lower coverage amounts, but they will ask little to no question regarding your lifestyle and your health. 

 Hard drugs include:

If you’re worried that a one time or occasional drug usage will affect your coverage, check out out blogpost on one time drug usage and life insurance.

Marijuana usage 

Marijuana use has become increasingly common in recent years, particularly as more states legalize it for medical and recreational use. While marijuana is often touted for its health benefits, it can also have negative effects on the body, particularly when it’s used in excess. But what impact does marijuana use have on life insurance premiums?

When it comes to life insurance, marijuana use is also a red flag for insurers. While some insurers may be more lenient than others when it comes to marijuana use, many will still view it as a risk factor. This is because research has shown that long-term marijuana use can lead to respiratory problems, cognitive impairment, and other health issues.

Cannabis users that exceed the weekly limit set by the insurance company could fall under the smoker category. The typical weekly limit set by insurance companies is 2 or 3 joints per week. If you consume marijuana (ie. edibles), the limit is the same as smoking. This means that if you’re an occasional marijuana user that usually smokes 3 times per week, you can qualify for standard traditional life insurance or simplified life insurance with non-smoker ratings. Read more about how life insurance companies view marijuana usage!  

Tobacco usage

Tobacco use is widely regarded as one of the most significant risk factors for a range of health problems, including cancer, heart disease, and respiratory problems. As a result, it’s no surprise that tobacco use can have a significant impact on life insurance premiums.

Due to the health risks associated with smoking, smokers will face significantly higher life insurance premiums. Statistics show that smokers are 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer, which raises the risk of insuring you and raises the cost of your insurance. Smokers can pay anywhere from 30% to 300% more than non-smokers. While there may be no-medical insurance options that do not take your medical history into account, these options are already significantly more expensive than their alternatives. Insurers may ask how frequently the individual uses tobacco, how they consume it, and whether they have a history of tobacco-related health problems.

Even if you have stopped smoking, your life insurance premiums may be higher for a while. To be considered a nonsmoker, you must have been smoke-free for at least a year. The longer you go without smoking, the lower your insurance will become over time.

Because of its highly addictive nature, casual smoking is still considered smoking by life insurance companies. Even if you only smoke one cigarette, it will count against your application. Life insurance companies frequently consider vaping to be the same as smoking. Many businesses have updated their marijuana policies, but using it may still have a negative connotation that varies by company.

How do life insurance companies test for drug use? 

During the underwriting process, you usually take a medical exam with routine blood and urine testing for substance abuse and share past medical records.

Life insurance companies will use blood and urine tests to identify if you have any traces of drugs in your bloodstream or urine. Urine tests will be able to find if there are traces of nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs, they will use this information in the underwriting process. Blood tests will identify carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT),  which is a common sign of heavy alcohol consumption in the previous two weeks. 

You’ll also be asked questions in a drug usage questionnaire about your drug usage and how often you use drugs. These questions typically include:

  • What kind of drugs have you taken within the last 10 years?
  • Are you currently a recovering addict, or are you currently using drugs?
  • Do you have any history of drug addiction?
  • Have you ever received addictions related counselling?
  • Have you participated in inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment?
  • Have you been sober since your last treatment?
  • Have you ever been charged with a DUI/DWI and/or other drug related criminal offenses (criminal possession)?

How do you prepare for a life insurance drug test?

If you are applying for life insurance and are concerned about drug testing, there are several steps you can take to prepare. First, be honest about your drug use on your application, as lying or omitting information can result in a denial of coverage or a cancellation of your policy. 

Second, be aware of the types of drugs that are tested for and the length of time they can be detected in your system. If you have recently used drugs, it may be worth delaying your application until enough time has passed for the drugs to clear your system. 

Finally, consider making lifestyle changes that can improve your overall health and reduce your risk of complications related to drug use. This can include quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, and seeking treatment for addiction or other health conditions.

How can recovering drug addicts get life insurance? 

If you are a recovering addict, you can definitely find a life insurance policy and we can help you find your options. Although you may face some hurdles when buying a life insurance policy, like higher premiums and/or a longer application processing time for a thorough medical history review, you can be insured. Even if you don’t qualify for a traditional policy yet, you’re not completely out of options. There are many options available to you if you’re a recovering addict looking for life insurance, for example:

Even if you don’t qualify for a traditional policy, you’re not without options. If you’re a recovering addict looking for life insurance, you have several options, including:

  • Group life insurance: Many employers provide group life insurance to their employees that does not require any health information for approval. However, this coverage may be limited, and if you change jobs, you will lose the policy.
  • Funeral insurance: If you do not qualify for traditional life insurance, funeral insurance policies will cover your funeral and final expenses.
  • Guaranteed life insurance: A guaranteed issue life insurance product will always accept your application if you do not qualify for traditional life insurance.

You can also reapply in the future: Insurers are more likely to consider covering you if you have not used drugs for 5 or more years. But this doesn’t mean you should wait to get any form of life insurance at all: it’s important to stay protected in the event of the unexpected. It’s best to get some form of coverage now and shop for a new policy or ask for a rate reconsideration after you hit this milestone.

Buying life insurance as a recovering addict can be more difficult than the process for someone with no drinking history, but it’s not impossible. It helps to know what challenges you might face. Working with an experienced life insurance advisor can help you find the right and affordable plan for your needs.

How much does life insurance cost for recovering addicts?

Life insurance costs for recovering drug addicts can range from standard ratings to even 400% ratings. This amount typically has to do with how long it has been since you’ve used drugs, thus, your rates and life insurance is based off of your sobriety. The longer you’ve gone without using drugs and/or relapsing, the lower your rates. 

To obtain a more accurate idea of the cost of life insurance for recovering addicts in Canada, it is recommended to reach out to insurance providers directly or work with an independent insurance agent. They can assess your unique situation and provide personalized quotes based on your circumstances.

Additionally, it is worth comparing quotes from multiple insurance companies to ensure you find the most suitable and cost-effective coverage for your needs.

Life insurance for Recovering Addicts

These are the following rates for based on long you’ve been sober from drug usage for:

  • One to four years sober: Substandard (highest) rates, 150%+, or even decline
  • Five or more years sober: 50%+ or Standard rates

How Can I Reduce My Life Insurance Cost As an Addict?

Aside from going sober, seeking treatment or counselling, and reaching new milestones can also help you get better rates. If you currently have a drug addiction, you should seek treatment in addition to buying life insurance. Programs like Narcotics Anonymous can provide support that will be valuable for your recovery, and insurers will acknowledge that you are currently seeking treatment for your addiction. If you have gotten an underwritten life insurance policy and have been sober for a number of years now, you can try to request a change in the price of your policy if you are about to reach another year of sobriety. Alternatively, if you have been sober for 3 years, and you know that the insurance company that you are applying for would offer cheaper life insurance to those who are 5 years sober, see if you can change your premium prices when you reach your 5 year sobriety milestone or apply once you are five years sober.

It’s important to note that each insurance company has its own underwriting guidelines, and the impact of these factors can vary. Consulting with an independent insurance agent who specializes in working with individuals in recovery can provide valuable guidance and help you find insurance providers who are more lenient or accommodating.

Other Factors That Change the Cost of Life Insurance for addicts

Along with your history with drug usage, insurers will also look at your overall health and lifestyle choices, which can affect your premiums for life insurance as well.

Most insurers will have you fill out a drug usage questionnaire to gauge your drug usage. This questionnaire will typically ask about:

  • Patterns of use (amount consumed and how often)
  • Any change in drug usage habits and reason for change
  • Treatment required if any (Narcotics Anonymous, medication, medical monitoring, etc.)
  • History of relapse, if any
  • Any history of mental illness
  • Criminal history related to drug use 

Across the board, during the underwriting process there are general questions that are asked by life insurance companies and information that they will need to know: 

  • Weight 
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Smoking status (smoker or non-smoker)
  • Health issues
  • Medications you take for your health issues 
  • Family health history 
  • Criminal record
  • If you have occupational risks 
  • Risky hobbies you take part in

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Addiction and Life Insurance

Blood tests will identify carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT),  which is a common sign of heavy alcohol consumption in the previous two weeks.

Many insurers define heavy drinking as more than three drinks per day. They will also review your health for alcohol-related conditions and blood tests for indicators of heavy alcohol consumption.

You can get life insurance anytime during your recovery process, there is are many alternatives to underwritten life insurance that will be able to insure you even if you are on the beginning stages of your recovery. Simplified and no-medical/guaranteed issue life insurances can provide you with coverage even if you are just in the beginning stages of your recovery.

You need to be sober for at least 2-3 years or more before you can qualify for most traditional underwritten life insurance policies. You’ll be eligible for the best rates after 5-7 years of sobriety. Some companies might require you to be sober for 7-10 years if you have done hard drugs.

A smoker is someone who has used any of these products in the last 12 months: 

  • Any tobacco products (cigarettes, nicotine base products)
  • E-cigarettes, vaping device
  • Marijuana (over a certain limit)

*An occasional cigar is often defined as one large cigar per week with negative cotinine results on urine tests.

Yes, recovering alcoholics can buy traditional life insurance after three years of sobriety and will pay much higher rates than people with no history of alcohol addiction.

Yes, recovering addicts can buy traditional life insurance, no medical life insurance, and simplified life insurance. This all depends on the drug used, the usage frequency, years sober and many other factors. Regardless, if you are a recovering addict there are plenty of life insurance companies that are willing to provide you coverage. 

Yes! Your rates will be lower the longer you’ve gone without drinking, and if you’ve seeked treatment. If you’ve been sober for 5 years without any relapses, you’ll be given standard ratings – the same as a regular person. 

Yes! Your rates will decrease the longer that you are sober. Aside from becoming sober, seeking treatment or counselling, as well as achieving new milestones, can all help you get better rates. Programs such as Narcotics Anonymous can provide valuable support for your recovery, and insurers will recognize that you are currently seeking treatment for your addiction. If you have an underwritten life insurance policy and have been sober for a number of years, you can try to request a price change if you are about to enter another year of sobriety.

Soft drug that are tested for by life insurance companies:

  • Tobacco
  • Marijuana 
  • Hallucinogens (Shrooms, LSD, etc)

Hard drug that are tested for by life insurance companies:

  • Heroin
  • Crack/Cocaine 
  • Ecstasy/MDMA
  • Prescription drugs
  • Opioids (fentanyl, percocets, oxycontin, etc) 
  • Methamphetamine
  • Alcohol 

Finding The Right Life Insurance For Your Recovery

Buying life insurance as a recovering addict from substance or alcohol abuse is not impossible. Working with an experienced life insurance advisor can help you find the right and affordable plan for your needs. 

At Protect Your Wealth, we work with and compare quotes and policies from the best life insurance companies in Canada to help find the perfect solution for your needs. We’ve been providing expert life insurance solutions since 2007, including no medical life insurance, critical illness insurance, and permanent life insurance, to build the best package to give you the protection you need.

To schedule a consultation about your income protection goals, or if you have any questions about insurance in Ontario or Canada, please Contact Protect Your Wealth or call us at 1-877-654-6119 to talk to an advisor today! We’re proudly based out of Hamilton, and service clients anywhere in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, including areas such as Toronto, Edmonton, and Vancouver.

Talk to an advisor today.

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