Does past drug use affect life insurance?


Drug use, including legal and illegal substances, can impact eligibility and rates for your life insurance. Companies will ask about the type of drugs used, how long ago they were used, and if the applicant is seeking treatment. Some companies may require a drug test to verify disclosures. The good news is, if you don’t qualify for traditional life insurance, you still have options!

By Kaitlyn Kokoska
Content Editorial Manager
13 min read

Life insurance companies use a variety of factors to determine what premiums they will charge for a policy. One of those factors is past drug use. While most life insurance companies are not likely to deny coverage solely because of past drug use, the presence of certain drugs in an individual’s record can result in higher premiums or even denial of coverage altogether.

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Does drug use affect life insurance?

Yes, if you’ve done drugs in the past, it will affect your life insurance. Even if you’ve just done them once, the insurance company wants to know about it. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be denied or that your price will be crazy high. You may still be eligible for a standard rate. It depends on the following:

  • What drugs you’ve done
  • How long long ago
  • If you’re still doing them
  • If you’re seeking treatment because of your drug use

When applying for life insurance, applicants are typically asked to disclose consumption of legal and/or recreational drugs like marijuana or prescription painkillers. You will also be asked about illegal drugs such as mushrooms, cocaine, or heroin. Insurers will also typically ask about frequency of use, and whether or not the person applying has sought treatment for addiction. Some life insurance companies may require a urine sample or other type of drug test during the application process in order to verify an applicant’s disclosures.

They ask about drug use because those who do drugs, even recreational drugs, may be at a higher risk of health issues and are at a higher risk of death than those who don’t. If you’re an active user, the insurance companies consider you a risky person that may cost them your life insurance payout sooner rather than later. So, they either deny the application or adjust the price according to how risky they think the behaviour is.

Life insurance and alcohol use

Like drug use, excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of premature death, which insurers take into consideration when assessing an individual’s risk level. When applying for life insurance, insurers will typically ask about an individual’s alcohol consumption habits, including the frequency and quantity of alcohol consumed. If an individual has a history of excessive alcohol use or has sought treatment for alcoholism, it may result in higher premiums or difficulty obtaining life insurance.

The number of drinks that is considered “too many” for life insurance purposes will depend on several factors, such as the individual’s age, weight, and overall health. Generally speaking, excessive alcohol consumption is defined as consuming more than 14 drinks per week for men and more than 7 drinks per week for women, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. However, insurers may have their own guidelines for what they consider excessive alcohol consumption, and these guidelines may vary from one insurer to another.

Life insurance and smoking

The stress that smoking inflicts on one’s body has lasting detrimental health effects. Tobacco consumers are much likelier to have a health condition later in life like cancer, heart disease, and stroke. While there are many more repercussions to smoking, it is these deadly medical conditions that make a smoker’s life riskier to insure. Depending on the age of the applicant and the amount of coverage applied for, the cost of life insurance for smokers can be higher by 50 to 100% compared to those for non-smokers.

You are considered a smoker if you have used or consumed any of the following products in the last 12 months:

  • Cigarettes
  • E-cigarettes
  • Cigars
  • Cigarillos
  • Chewing Tobacco
  • Recreational marijuana (more than 3 times a week)
  • Nicotine products
  • Vapes

Life insurance and prescription drugs

Some prescription drugs can have side effects or interactions with other medications that increase the risk of premature death. When applying for life insurance, insurers will typically ask about an individual’s prescription drug use, including the type of medication, the dosage, and the reason for taking the medication. If an individual is taking a medication that increases their risk of premature death, it may result in higher premiums or difficulty obtaining life insurance coverage.

However, not all prescription medications will have a negative impact on an individual’s life insurance premiums. In some cases, taking certain medications may actually improve an individual’s health and lower their risk level. So, in short, it really depends on the type of prescription drug.

Life insurance and hard drugs

Hard drug use, such as heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine, can have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to obtain life insurance or affect the cost of their premiums. Hard drug use can have a range of negative health consequences, including an increased risk of premature death, heart disease, and other serious health conditions. In some cases, an insurer may require a medical examination or additional information about an individual’s drug use history before issuing a policy.

how life insurance companies treat marijuana usage

Can I get life insurance if I’ve been to rehab?

Yes, it is possible to get life insurance if you have been to rehab. While it may be more difficult to obtain coverage, most insurers will take into account an individual’s history of drug use when assessing their risk level. Factors such as the age at which the individual began using drugs, how long they have been using drugs for, and whether they are still actively using drugs are all taken into consideration by insurers.

Additionally, many insurers require a medical exam or additional information about an individual’s drug use before issuing a policy. Depending on the type of drug used and the amount of time since last usage, the insurer may issue a policy with higher-than-average premiums or deny the application altogether.

If you are in rebab at the time of application, it may be more difficult to obtain life insurance coverage. Life insurers typically want to see that an individual has successfully completed a treatment program and has maintained sobriety for a period of time before issuing a policy. They may ask you to hold off on applying until you complete treatment, or you may look into other life insurance options with guaranteed acceptance or no-medical exams.

Does life insurance cover overdose death?

In most cases, life insurance policies cover overdose deaths. However, it’s important to note that there may be certain circumstances under which the policy may not pay out, such as if the policyholder intentionally caused their own death or if the policy has exclusions related to substance abuse.

If a policyholder dies as a result of an accidental overdose and the policy is in good standing, the beneficiaries should receive the death benefit from the policy. However, if the policyholder died as a result of an intentional overdose or if the policy has exclusions related to a history of abuse, the policy may not pay out.

Does life insurance cover suicide?

Life insurance sometimes, but does not usually, cover suicide. There are conditions attached. In most cases, Canadian life insurers will not pay out for suicidal deaths within the first 2 years of starting their policy.  A “suicide clause” is a standard part of most individual life insurance policies issued by Canadian insurers. It states that if the policyholder dies by suicide within a certain time frame, the insurance company will not pay the death benefit. Some insurers may cover suicide after that point some may not.

Life insurance doesn't cover every situation. There are some exclusions and limitations for things like death by suicide within a certain timeframe.

If you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health crisis, please contact the Mental Health Support Line at 1-833-456-4566

Can I get life insurance as an active drug user?

It’s possible, if you are a current drug user, but it might be difficult. In some cases, insurers may deny coverage altogether or offer only limited coverage with additional restrictions or higher premiums. If you have an active drug addiction, you may consider life insurance options that don’t require medical exams or information (more on that below).

Should I disclose drug use on a life insurance application?

Yes, you should disclose drug use, even if it was just one time. If the insurance company cross-examines your file and finds out that you lied on your application, you might be denied coverage at the time of application OR even when your family goes to file a claim.

One DailyHive article notes that some life insurance companies may deny your application from one time drug use. However, that’s very rare. If your drug use is long in the past, is managed, and you are in good health, it usually isn’t an issue.

What is a contestability period?

The contestability period of an insurance policy lasts two years from the date the policyholder was approved for coverage. This means an insurance company has two years after it issues the policy to void the coverage or adjust the premiums if it discovers an error or lies in the application.

Life insurance for drug users

Depending on your health and drug use history, you may be eligible for standard term or permanent life insurance. However, if your relationship with drugs is a bit more complicated than “a couple joints back in your college days”, you might consider some other types of life insurance policies that skip the extensive medical questionnaires, exams, or drug tests.

No-Medical life insurance

With no-medical life insurance, you either only have to answer a few medical questions or no questions at all, depending on the type of policy— the no-medical policy is either a simplified issue or a guaranteed issue policy. Pricing is higher than medically underwritten policies: the insurance provider takes on more risk by offering you a policy without the underwriting review or asking more stringent questions about your health.

Simplified issue life insurance

Simplified issue life insurance requires that you answer a FEW questions about your medical history for the life insurance application, rather than undergoing a full physical medical exam and interview process.

 Guaranteed life insurance

Guaranteed issue life insurance requires NO medical questions or medical underwriting. You qualify for coverage, regardless of your health. This may be the best option if you have an extensive history of drug use, if you experience health problems because of drugs, or you simply want to avoid drug testing, medical questions, or medical exams. Keep in mind though, this is the most expensive type of term life insurance coverage.

You might consider no-medical life insurance if you’ve been denied traditional life insurance for one of the following reasons:

  • Previously been declined, rated, or postponed for coverage
  • Dislike medical exams or needles
  • Are on a deadline and can’t wait for a medical/doctors report
  • Have existing or previous medical conditions or concerns
  • Have weight issues
  • Have alcohol or drug abuse issues
  • Have a criminal record or traffic violations
  • Have bad credit or declared bankruptcy
  • Participate in hazardous hobbies or occupations

Frequently Asked Questions 

Do I need to take a drug test to get life insurance?

Sometimes. While not all life insurance policies require a drug test, some insurers may require a medical exam as part of the underwriting process. A medical exam may include a drug test as part of the evaluation of your overall health and risk factors.

If a drug test is required, it will typically be a urine or blood test that screens for a range of substances, including drugs and alcohol. The results of the drug test will be used by the insurer to evaluate your risk and determine your eligibility for coverage.

Can I buy life insurance as a recovering addict?

Yes, it’s possible to buy life insurance as a recovering addict. However, the process of obtaining life insurance may be more complex and require additional information about your recovery journey. You may be required to provide information about the length of your sobriety, the type of treatment you received, and any ongoing therapy or support groups that you participate in. You may be declined traditional life insurance, but you may be eligible for guaranteed or simplified issue life insurance.

Can you get life insurance if you take steroids?

Yes, but taking steroids can potentially affect your eligibility and price for life insurance. Anabolic steroids, which are synthetic versions of the male hormone testosterone, are often used to enhance muscle growth and athletic performance. However, steroid use is also associated with various health risks, including liver damage, cardiovascular disease, and other serious conditions.

Can I get life insurance with mental health issues?

Yes, you can get life insurance if you have a mental health issues. Just like drug use and life insurance, your eligibility depends on your diagnosis, severity, and treatment of mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder, deperssion, or anxiety.

Applying for life insurance as a drug user

During the application for life insurance, you will be asked about any past use of illicit drugs, legal drugs, or alcohol use including:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Heroine
  • Steroids
  • Mushrooms
  • LSD
  • Prescription drugs

The insurance company will want to know when you used these substances, how often, if you are still using them, if you’re going to treatment for them, and if you have long-term health effects from your drug history.

You must be honest about your past drug use when you apply for life insurance—if the insurance company finds out you lied, your coverage for your family may be denied altogether. Those with a history of drug abuse may be declined by some companies, but others are more lenient.

Life insurance providers may require you to submit medical records, medical tests, or drug tests depending on your history. Life insurance providers will also use the following information to determine your life insurance rates:

Our licensed insurance experts at PolicyAdvisor can help you find the best life insurance policy if you have a history of drug use, whether that means just experimenting 10 years ago or you’re in recovery. Schedule a call with one of our advisors today!

Need help?
Call us at 1-888-601-9980 or book time with our licensed experts.

The information above is intended for informational purposes only and is based on PolicyAdvisor’s own views, which are subject to change without notice. This content is not intended and should not be construed to constitute financial or legal advice. PolicyAdvisor accepts no responsibility for the outcome of people choosing to act on the information contained on this website. PolicyAdvisor makes every effort to include updated, accurate information. The above content may not include all terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions, termination, and other provisions of the policies described, some of which may be material to the policy selection. Please refer to the actual policy documents for complete details. In case of any discrepancy, the language in the actual policy documents will prevail.  All rights reserved.

If something in this article needs to be corrected, updated, or removed, let us know. Email


  • Past drug use (even just one time) may affect life insurance premiums or even result in denial of coverage.
  • Insurers ask about drug use, frequency, and whether or not an individual has sought treatment for addiction.
  • If you are denied traditional life insurance because of your drug use, you can apply for no-medical life insurance. 

By Kaitlyn Kokoska
Content Editorial Manager
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