Life Insurance with Opiate Addiction (What You Should Know)

Is finding low-cost life insurance with an opiate addiction possible? Most definitely. There are many types of opiates beyond heroin and opium that Americans use legally every day.

The problem is that all forms of opiates are physically and mentally addicting which can cause problems with prescription medication.

According to a survey of 51,200 Americans published in the Annals of Internal Medicine of July 31st, 2017, 38% were prescribed an opiate by a physician.

Extrapolated, that means 92 million Americans used prescription opioids. This could be from anything like pain relief from an accident or something prescribed long term as a pain management system.

The study also shows that around 1% (1.9 million) of Americans have an “opioid use disorder.”

​How Do Life Insurance Companies Define Opiates?

​All opiates are a specific class of drug. This extend​​s to all brands of any drug derived from the opium poppy such as codeine and morphine. They also include synthetic and partially synthetic variations such as Percodan or Oxycodone.

life insurance substance abuse

​More people have dependencies on prescription opiates than their illegal counterparts.

The following is a list of the most common form of prescribed opiate medications including the familiar brand names:

  • Codeine (only available in generic form)
  • Fentanyl – ( Brand names include Actiq, Duragesic, and Fentora)
  • Hydrocodone – ( Brand names include Hysingla ER and Zohydro ER)
  • Hydrocodone/acetaminophen combination – (Brand names include Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, and Vicodin)
  • Hydromorphone – (Brand names include Dilaudid and Exalgo)
  • Meperidine – ( Brand name includes Demerol)
  • Methadone – (Brand names include Dolophine and Methadose)
  • Morphine – (Brand names include Astramorph, Avinza, Kadian, MS Contin and Ora-Morph SR)
  • Oxycodone – (Brand names include OxyContin, Oxecta, and Roxicodone)
  • Oxycodone and Acetaminophen combination – (Brand names include Percocet, Endocet, and Roxicet)
  • Oxycodone and Naloxone combination – (Brand names include Targiniq ER)

The recreational street varieties (heroin and opium) are also medically opiates but are illegal to prescribe.

In the vast majority of cases, opioids are prescribed by physicians to treat moderate, chronic or acute pain. Doctors prescribe these drugs for significant physical injuries. This may involve severe back pain, broken limbs, or for an extensive variety of injuries that occur because of an accident, work-related injury or any other form of a physically traumatic injury.

Opiates are also in use for a vast variety of illnesses and pre-existing conditions such as cancer pain or any other form of sickness or disease.

Another reason why some people are prescribed opiates is that other forms of synthetic medications such as over the counter pain medications are ineffective in pain management.

If you take any pain management medication, make sure to note it on your life insurance application because it will show up in the Insurance Rx Database.

​Life Insurance with an Opiate Addiction Versus Prescription Use

Any opiate type medicine you take is a red flag for a life insurance underwriter. Even if you have no signs of potential addiction and are only taking it for a temporary issue, it’s a signal for them to dig deeper into your medical history.

While opiates are frequently prescribed, they signal a serious illness or accident to an underwriter.

The levels of seriousness go as follows from least concerning to most.

  • Non-hobby/non-work related accident without lasting effects
  • Hobby/work-related accident without lasting effects
  • Accident with lasting effects (i.e., spinal injury, nerve damage)
  • Illness without lasting effects (sometimes doctors will prescribe cough syrup with codeine for serious cases of bronchitis)
  • Long-lasting illnesses
  • Flare-up pain management
  • Chronic pain management

Most of these aren’t severe, but most insurance companies want a long list of any time you’ve been to see the doctor outside regular checkups in the last 5 years.

​How to Save Money on Life Insurance with an Opiate Addiction

There are several, simple​ ways to save money with any opiate use or addiction. Most of them are easy too.

​Speak with an Independent Agent

Independent life insurance agents are not restricted to sell any single company’s products (unlike captive agents.) Captive agents are contractually bound to only sell life insurance policies from the company they work for. Independent agents work for you and not the company.

This allows independent agents to shop the market for you instead of pushing a handful of products. The best way for you to save money here is different underwriting policies of each company. Some companies are extremely risk-averse. They only take people who are perfectly healthy with perfectly healthy families.

Other companies might require higher premiums from people who smoke cigarettes but couldn’t care less about an opiate addiction.

An independent agent will know which companies will have the best underwriting policies for your unique situation.

​Layer Policies Instead of Buying One Big Policy

Let’s say you want to make sure you can put your kids through college, so you want life insurance to make sure that can happen. Then you buy a house and want to make sure that your spouse and kids won’t lose their home if they lose you.

Most people would buy one large policy to cover both circumstances. If you’re smart, you will get two smaller policies with different term lengths. (The odds of paying off your mortgage the same month that your youngest child finishes college is astronomically low, but you never know.)

The best way to do this cheaply is to get a decreasing term for the length of your mortgage. A decreasing term means the death benefit and premiums go down over the course of the policy. Then you take another policy to cover the cost of tuition for your kids that will expire when they plan on finishing school. (Maybe give yourself an extra year in case one of them needs 5 years or decides on graduate/med school.)

​Take the Life Insurance Medical Exam

No-exam policies are more accessible and getting cheaper every year. They are still more expensive than the policies that require the half hour medical exam.

The insurance companies want to stay in business (and you want them to stay in business too in case they need to pay out your claim 23 years down the line.) So they have to price their policies according to statistics.

They hire super smart mathematicians called actuaries who tell them that people who want no-exam policies tend to have more medical issues than people who are willing to take the exam. So they charge more for those types of policies.

For life insurance with an opiate addiction, it might be smart to ignore this advice. (See the Success Story in the next section.)

​Abrams Insurance Solutions Success Story – Life Insurance with an Opiate Addiction

We recently had a client (let’s call him Bob) who sustained a fairly serious (but not permanent) back injury. His physician had prescribed him hydrocodone to treat the pain after the injury and during recovery.

The back injury took a while to heal, but heal it did. Bob continued taking the hydrocodone until the prescription ran out. He didn’t have a reason. There wasn’t any ongoing pain. He said he just kind of fell into the habit of taking it to prevent any discomfort. Even when there wasn’t any, it was just natural.

Realizing he had developed a dependency issue and possibly an opiate addiction, Bob checked himself into a rehabilitation clinic. With their help, he succeeded in eliminating his dependency.

When he spoke to us and applied for life insurance, he had not touched any opiate for over 5 years. This (and Bob’s preventative measure for allowing the dependency to escalate) allowed us to get a Standard Non-Tobacco rating with a no-exam company. He now has a 30-year term policy for $400,000 to protect his family in case any future accidents happen.

The underwriting on Bob’s policy took less than a week.

​How Do Opiates Affect Life Insurance?

Life insurance companies worry that abuse of opiates can eventually result in serious health problems. Sometimes even death through an overdose.

All opiates impact the brain. They provide intense feelings of pleasure when used recreationally. Folks suffering from acute pain feel that pleasure to a lesser extent, but the other component provides exceptional pain relief. The effects depend on the dosage.

The problem occurs because the human body can develop a dependency on opiates with extreme rapidity. The likelihood of developing a dependency varies from person to person.

Physical addiction occurs when the body begins to crave the substance.

A psychological or mental dependency can occur at the same time when the person enjoys the feeling (pleasure/pain relief) that opiates provide.

Using opiates long-term can result in serious health consequences. Multiple organs suffer from long-term use because it’s an extra strain for them to process. Use of opioids can also impact the brain’s ability to produce dopamine as well as the body’s regular painkillers.

Symptoms of an opiate addiction typically include:

  • ​Higher tolerance for the drug (higher dose for the same effect)
  • Inability to stop or decrease usage
  • Withdrawal symptoms when ceasing use​

Most people with opiate addictions continue to crave the substance even when it begins to impact their health. Continued use can have significant impacts on relationships, quality of life, finances, as well as legal consequences.

​Underwriting Factors for Life Insurance with an Opiate Addiction or Dependency

Underwriters look into several factors when considering something with a history of opiate addiction.

For people who qualify, the most likely range is from a Standard rating to a Table F rating. This depends on how long the person has abstained from opiate use as well as the following factors:

  • Severity and frequency of the abuse
  • Type of drug abused
  • Severity of associated complications
  • Evidence of dependence or withdrawal
  • Legal problems associated with the abuse
  • Use of multiple drugs
  • Number of relapses
  • Participation in a group such as Narcotics Anonymous

It is reasonable to expect a Standard rating when you have had a full recovery with no relapses for 2 to 5 years. (The length of time depends on the company.)

Most companies require this 2 to 5-year waiting period because an opiate addiction can increase the risk of an early death because of:

  • ​Overdoses
  • Accidents
  • Infections
  • Toxic effects on vital organs​

Current use of any opiate and indications of a dependency results in an automatic decline with all traditional forms of life insurance. If you need life insurance right now, this is the time to look into a guaranteed issue policy.

​Getting Life Insurance with an Ongoing Opiate Dependency

If you are currently taking prescription opiates, currently attend a rehab program or are planning on attending, guaranteed issue is the best option for you.

Anyone with a current opiate addiction can get life insurance this way. These policies are straightforward in that anyone who applies gets a policy. Insurance companies offering this type of policy does not need a medical exam. Most don’t even ask health questions.

Guaranteed issue life insurance policies are available as both term and permanent life insurance. We generally recommend getting the permanent policy over the term policy in this case. Term guaranteed issues policies need renewing every 5 years, and the prices can get outrageous fast.

Premiums depend only on your age and the amount of life insurance you want. Benefit amounts are much lower than traditional life insurance policies. They range from around $5,000 to $25,000. Every once in a blue moon you can find a company offering a $50,000 guaranteed issue policy.

The premiums for a guaranteed issue policy are more expensive than a traditional life insurance policy. This is because the life insurance company has little to no information about your health to offer you better rates.

​Why Use Abrams Insurance Solutions

As independent agents, we work for you and not an insurance company. That means we can shop the market for you and find the company that is the best fit for you and your family.

With over 70 of the top-rated companies to choose from, we do all the legwork for you. When you call our friendly staff, they can point you in the direction of the companies with the best underwriting guidelines for your situation. If you need life insurance with an opiate addiction, we can do that too.

You can see what rates you might qualify for right now by using the Instant Quotes tool.

​The Bottom Line

If you want to put in the least work possible to find life insurance with an opiate dependency, give us a call. All conversations are 100% confidential, and we can leverage the relationships we’ve built over the years to get you the best rates.

We believe everyone deserves the ability to protect their family, regardless of their medical history. With even small things like headaches and alcohol consumption affecting life insurance, it’s important to shop your options.

As independent agents, we work for you and not the insurance company. So give us a call at 858-703-6178 today. There is never any obligation to buy.