Laura Berry is a former State Farm insurance producer and insurance expert.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Car Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 2, 2017

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Don't miss these facts...

  • A DUI conviction is the conviction of an individual of having too high of a blood alcohol content while driving a motor vehicle
  • Life insurance underwriting views any DUI conviction as a red flag because it opens a giant doorway of other health issues and possible alcoholism
  • Excecessive alcohol causes heart, brain, liver, cancer, and other health problems that have a negative effect on mortality.
  • Life insurance underwriting for DUI underwriting looks at all available information possible to make a final underwriting decision
  • If a DUI applicant is rated for the fact of the DUI, it is possible to have the rating reduced or removed if there is no further occurrence of alcohol abuse or driving irregularities


DUI, or driving under the influence is a state a person is experiencing while having had too much alcohol or drugs and is impaired as far as his or her driving ability.

As a consequence, an individual in this condition is a danger to themselves, their passengers in the vehicle, and to others on the road that they encounter.

The legal definition of DUI rests solely on the blood alcohol content of one’s blood. The level of blood alcohol will vary from state to state, but will usually fall into the .08 to 1.0 levels.

Any reading above those levels will result in probable arrest and heavy fines.

Society in general, takes a dim view of drunk driving, as over 37,000 people are killed annually by drunk drivers.

Some form of the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) test is used in all 50 states to test for DUI which is used in the courts for conviction, dismissal and ultimate legal disposition.

Repeated DUI offenses are taken quite seriously by the regulatory and policing agencies and rightly so.

If a person is a regular alcoholic and is driving, he or she can look good while driving for a time but can be totally out of control and unaware of their surroundings in an instant.

The facts are very sobering when you consider that the alcoholic that is arrested for the first time has been driving while intoxicated 87 times before that stop.

Amazingly a total of 50 to 75 percent of drivers who have had their license suspended for DUI are still driving.

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How do life insurance companies view people who have DUI convictions?

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If you set aside situations like being stopped after a dinner out with a few drinks that turns into a DUI conviction by an aggressive police officer, there is still a mountain of evidence that a DUI conviction can put a life insurance applicant into a dangerous mortality situation.

The individual is dealing with a double edged sword in that not only is the exposure to the road dangers exposing him or her to death or injury, it is likely that a DUI conviction is simply a result of alcoholism, which can be the cause of many of our major diseases such as heart problems and cancer.

For a life insurance underwriter, an applicant who has even had one DUI conviction is a huge red flag considering all of the possible interweavings of negative possibilities.

Most life insurance companies judge the DUI scenario as a highly ratable event and will rate as much as $7 to $10 extra per thousand of insurance, and this is based on a standard rating, not preferred.

If an individual has no more incidents of drunk driving or reckless driving charges, he or she may have the rating reduced within a two to three year period.

A preferred premium rate could be achieved in a seven to ten year time if there are no other incidents of drunk driving.

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What is at Stake For The Life Insurance Company?

Alcoholism affects our health in many ways, and when that factor is coupled with the risks and hazards of an alcoholic who is impaired much of the time driving on a regular basis, it is easy to see why a life insurance company is tough on people in this category.

Just the physical effects that alcohol has on our health is remarkable. A regular drinker of enough alcohol on a daily basis to become impaired can do incredible damage to the organs of his or her body.

  • Alcohol and the Brain – Alcohol interferes with the transmissions of the brain’s impulses, occurring at what is called the synapses. A steady consumption of alcohol makes it more difficult to think and reason correctly.
  • Alcohol and Cancer – The risk of cancer is increased by drinking alcohol can cause increases in cancer of the mouth, tongue, esophagus, throat, the liver, and breast.ec
  • Alcohol and the Heart – Too much alcohol consumption causes cardiomyopathy, which is a stretching and drooping of the heart muscle, stroke, arrhythmias, and high blood pressure.
  • Alcohol and the Liver – The liver is essentially the filter for our entire body, and even though it is a strong organ, it too has its limits. A steady consumption of alcohol causes a fatty liver, fibrosis, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis of the liver.
  • Alcohol and the Pancreas – Alcoholism can cause the pancreas to produce substances that inhibit the function of the organ called pancreatitis.
  • Alcohol and the Immune System – Alcoholism reduces the effectiveness of the immune system, making an individual more susceptible to pneumonia and tuberculosis, as well as other debilitating diseases.

All Factors Are Considered

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When viewing previous physical problems that are known to be caused by alcohol consumption we are reminded that any one of these physical conditions would be a red flag for a life insurance underwriter.

When considering the application of an individual with liver problems alone is grounds for severe ratings or decline.

This is the problem that an individual who is regularly drinking, has a DUI, and exhibits symptoms of any of these diseases.

It could also be stated that a DUI on a person’s record is a doorway into potential issues with these medical conditions.

The underwriting process also gets into the areas of moral habits as they are concerned with mortality, and the excessive drinking of alcohol is one of those items.

Many times, a person’s history is discovered through a background check.

The Medical Information Bureau, or MIB, holds an entire medical history of an individual and is regularly consulted by life insurance companies.

If a person had been treated in the past for alcoholism, that information could be found on the MIB.

A good underwriting job when it comes to a rendition of a DUI applicant demands a fair and unbiased look at all of the circumstances, whether negative or positive.

All information is pertinent and will be evaluated. Underwriting is a matter of degree so as far as a DUI case the range runs from the “couple of drinks at dinner” scenario to a terrible alcoholic syndrome which would elicit a denial from the underwriter.

In Conclusion

When a life insurance home office underwriter receives an application with a DUI history of any length, certainly the first impression is negative.

If it is the first offense with no prior history, the individual will probably be able to purchase life insurance with a rating. More involved alcoholic history will simply increase the rating, or the applicant will be declined.

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