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Abuse of prescription drugs has been a growing problem for a few decades now and life insurance underwriters have tried to balance their reaction of this abuse with alcohol abuse and illegal drug abuse. For the most part the underwriting mirrors that of other addictions. 1. A person realizes they have a problem and seek help. 2. They complete a meaningful treatment program and 3. In the absence of other risky behavior they have a to create a track record of 2-5 years before they are able to get approval for life insurance.

This has been an especially tricky path when it comes to underwriting life insurance for medical professionals who have abused prescription drugs, or at least the underwriters have placed that burden on the combination. Their thinking hinges on the fact that doctors and dentists have the ability to abuse the prescription system to an extent that someone not able to write prescriptions can’t. I understand that the conquering of an addiction is something that should require proof  in the form of long term stability and commitment to support groups but in the whole big picture it seems that underwriters are either too harsh on medical professional in the length of that stability post prescription drug abuse treatment, or not harsh enough on those who abuse alcohol or illegal drugs.

If the measurement of the life insurance problem has to do with the ease with which prescriptions can be manipulated, underwriters are out of touch with the fact that an alcoholic can just go to the store and an illegal drug abuser is always welcomed back by their source. Ease of access to the abused substance is not an accurate measure of potential mortality in underwriting life insurance for an addict. The measure should be the degree to which the client has been able to change their lives, their commitment to sobriety and their ongoing voluntary use of support groups.

This comes up now as a medical professional client I’ve been working with for years has finally rounded the corner of scrutiny by life insurance underwriters. Six and a half years since he completed a self admitted 2 month inpatient treatment program. He actively attended AA, NA, and Caduceus (a medical peer addiction recovery group) daily for 5 years, a requirement of a peer review board, and complied with random testing, and has remained in Caduceus now sponsoring new members. His goal was to have $4 million of 20 year term life insurance in force. Our first attempt just two years after treatment we were able to get $3 million of 10 year term in his budget. Two years later we were able to get $4 million of 10 year term for $4000 less per year. Two years later now we have finally found companies that agree he’s on the right path and have offered him a standard rate, which gets him his original desired amount and term length, again within his budget. I suspect in a few more years we may be able to lower the premium significantly again when we are able to break into preferred rates.

Bottom line. Life insurance goals aren’t always immediately achievable but the smart move is to always put what you can in force with an approval within your budget and to have an agent that is willing to keep working at  it. If you have questions, or need an assessment of your situation, call or email me directly. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s talk.