How DUI – DWI Affect Life Insurance


We generally tend to think of DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) as being automobile insurance issues. In fact, they can affect other types of insurance, including life insurance.

Why does DUI – DWI affect life insurance

When you apply for life insurance, it isn’t just your health history that the insurance company is looking at. They are also looking at behavioral factors, which includes potentially dangerous hobbies, a history of injuries, and prior episodes of drug and alcohol abuse. They will also look closely at you criminal background and driving histories, as these are indications of potential substance abuse sufficiently severe that law enforcement had become involved.

DUI – DWI comes under this category. It is substance abuse in combination with the operation of a motor vehicle, and this represents a high level risk factor. The insurance company must consider the possibility that premature death is greater if there have been one or more episodes of DUI – DWI.

DUI – DWI and life insurance rates

In order to deal with the increased risk that DUI – DWI poses for insurance companies, your life insurance premium rates will be adjusted accordingly. If you have had a previous episode, rates will be based on the following:

  • The number of DUI – DWI events in your past
  • The severity of those events
  • How recent the last episode was
  • Any efforts at rehabilitation since the last occurrence

Obviously, the more recent and more frequent the episodes are, the higher the premium rates will be. A recent episode, in combination with one or more previous events, could result in prohibitively high life insurance premiums.

A recent DUI – DWI could result in a decline

If you have had a DUI – DWI, a life insurance company will be most interested in knowing that it is well behind you. This is similar to how life insurance policies are underwritten for nearly all recognized health risks. The farther into your past the episode was, the more favorable the insurance company will look upon your application.

At the extreme, a very recent episode could result in a declination. This will be especially likely if there’s a previous history of DUI – DWI episodes.

DUI – DWI time frames

Underwriting criteria for DUI – DWI varies from one life insurance company to another. However, as a general rule, life insurance companies want to see that a DUI – DWI is a minimum of two years old. A timeframe that is less will likely be an automatic declination.

Obviously the farther into your past the event is the better it will be, especially as it relates to life insurance premium rates.

Another important factor are attempts at rehabilitation. The life insurance company will want to see that you have taken positive steps to make sure that there are no further episodes in the future. In addition to evidence you’ve completed certain programs, such as driving courses and substance abuse programs, a certain amount of time will have to pass in order to provide tangible evidence that DUI – DWI is behind you.

DUI – DWI and other risk factors

The two-year rule on DUI – DWI – or any other guidelines – will also be heavily influenced by the existence of any other known risk factors. For example, if in addition to one or more DUI – DWI episodes you also have high blood pressure and a previous bout of cancer, the life insurance company could determined that the combination of risk factors will result in a much higher premium, or even in your application being declined.

If you do have other health risks in your past, it becomes especially important that you properly manage high-risk behavior that can be controlled, such as DUI – DWI. The other existing risk factors will present enough of a problem for your application that the addition of behavioral factors could result either in a decline or in premiums that are so high that you can’t afford the policy even if were approved.