Britons are drinking too much, shout the headlines. Out of those who live in Great Britain, two thirds say they drink to excess at least once a week and almost a quarter hurt themselves while they are intoxicated. This is according to a report by the Drink Aware Trust and the British Chiropractic Association.
But binge drinking is not just a health issue, but a financial one as well. It hits you not just in the pocket through the excess weekly spending on alcohol, but it can drive up the cost of your Life Insurance premiums too.
Talk to the Association of British Insurers and they will tell you that in fact yes, years and years of heavy drinking will be taken into account when calculating your premiums on your life insurance policy. On the Life Insurance application form a questions asks about your alcohol and tobacco consumption. And as with all sorts of insurance products, the underwriting is done at the point of your application.
You might think you can get away with not declaring the fact that you have been drinking excessively for a certain period of time. After all, no one is really going to know when you die right? And of course, you plan to cut down your alcohol consumption in the years to come. Yet a spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers says that it is best to tell the truth. If you die, the medical experts can often tell from the post mortem examination if you are someone who has been drinking for a time frame that extends back before you made your life insurance application. They can refuse to pay out if you did not reveal the truth about your drinking at the time.
The spokesperson says: “The point here, as with any deliberate non disclosure, is there is a strong chance that if you do put down something that is not accurate on your application form and if you do have to claim on that policy, the insurance company may say that your policy was rendered invalid because you deliberately failed to disclose something.”
However, if you develop an alcohol problem after you have made an application for Life Insurance you are most certainly entitled to a policy payment. He adds: “Your death might be related to some sort of alcohol consumption issue, in which case the policy will pay out. It is only things that are such at the time that you apply that are taken into account.”
Most insurance firms ask you to disclose your average weekly consumption of alcohol, asking how many units of alcohol you consume each week. But this does depend on the individual company. Most look at the NHS guidelines with respect to deciding what is a normal and safe level of alcohol to consume and what is considered to be potentially dangerous. The firm will weight their premiums accordingly.
Direct Line insurance company charges a 30-year old who does not drink monthly Life Insurance premiums of 14.88. For someone who does drink the payment is 15.37. Over the years, this can make quite a difference.
A spokesperson for the ABI says alcohol consumption is one of a number of factors insurers will look at when they are establishing whether or not to take on an insurance risk and what the level of premiums for that person will be.
“From a public health perspective, there will be medical practitioners within insurance companies who will have concerns about this issue,” he says. But he goes on to add: “The insurance companies must look at that factor dispassionately as they do with all of the other factors that they look at when they are calculating premiums.”