How to buy life insurance with history of drug use

8 min Read Published: 11 Jul 2022

Life Insurance and DrugsIf you're reading this article then you're looking to understand how drug use can affect your application for life insurance or illness insurance. It's an area that might make you hesitant to apply for life insurance or perhaps you have applied for insurance and have come across some obstacles. The good news is that for most people who need to disclose a history of drug use, there will be a way to arrange life insurance. There are a few things to consider and understand before you get started but if you want to get straight to the solution then you can jump to it here.

What is illegal or recreational drug use?

There is a wide context for the use of recreational or illegal drugs in society, ranging from using a recreational drug once, to the experience of long term addiction to drugs and then there is everything in between. The legality that addresses drug use can change from time to time as we see movements to legalise certain drugs but we don't have to look to the law when it comes to life insurance.

When life insurance companies ask about your drug use, they are asking about any drugs that you have taken that were not prescribed to you. Insurers do not ask about your historic or hard drug use so they can work out if you broke the law; they are trying to understand whether there is a risk associated with the drug use that makes you more likely to claim against a policy.

Examples of drugs that life insurers ask about

This is not an exhaustive list because any non-prescribed drug use could be included, however, the types of drugs mentioned below will be of particular interest to life insurance companies:

  • Cannabis
  • Ecstasy
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Stimulants
  • Sedatives
  • Tranquilisers
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Methadone
  • Amphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • Hallucinogens
  • Opiates
  • Sedatives
  • Solvents
  • Anabolic steroids

Will a life insurance company write to my GP?

It is possible that an insurer will write to your GP but this might not be down to your disclosure of drug use specifically. A good example of this is that insurers will automatically write to your GP if you exceed a certain level of insurance based on your age. They may also need to write to your GP because you've told them about a health condition and they want to investigate this further before the insurance is offered to you. Of course, if you tell the insurance company about your drug use, this might prompt them to write to your GP for more information about this but it's more likely that they will send you a questionnaire that asks you for some more detailed information.

Drug Questionnaire

Once you tell the insurance company about drug use, you will usually receive a more detailed questionnaire to better understand your personal experience. These extra questions are sometimes integrated into online application forms so that when you answer 'yes' to a drug question, it creates a series of extra questions for you to answer. The questionnaire will ask about the specific drugs that you have either used or tried and whether these have caused any health concerns.

If you've required counselling or the support of a withdrawal program, this will be asked here. If your drug use or addiction has caused you to take time off work, the insurer will want to know this too. It may feel intrusive but the insurer is simply trying to gain insight into your personal experience. This can be especially useful if you had a drug addiction and it was linked to a period of personal difficulty or a separate medical condition.

The best way to navigate the process is to enlist the help of a specialist life insurance adviser* who will sympathetically guide you through the process. The adviser will support your application and ensure that you're not treated unfairly.

Will I need to take a drug test?

Not specifically but your application may require you to complete a medical examination that includes a blood test. It is possible that your drug use will show itself through this test. If you disclose a history of intravenous drug use then you may be asked to have HIV, Hepatitis B & C tests as part of the application process.

Do I need to tell a life insurance company about my past drug use?

If an insurance company asks about it then, yes, otherwise, you would be invalidating your insurance. You do have to answer a number of questions in relation to your health and amongst these will be the question that asks you about drug use. If you choose not to answer the question then your life insurance application will not be complete and won't progress. Lying about drug use, whether by omitting information that you have directly been asked or by stating untruths will leave no room space to contest a declined claim if this happens. All life insurance policies work on the premise that you have been honest when you entered into a contract with the life insurance company.

What questions will a life insurer ask about my drug use?

Insurers are quite specific with their questions about drug use. Almost all insurers ask about drug use but there are subtle differences in the questioning for some. Most insurers will ask about specific drugs but will caveat the list with a phrase that leaves the question somewhat open-ended. Something along the lines of 'drugs like...' or 'non-prescribed drugs'. In addition to this question, you may also be asked if you have had an addiction to any drugs.

That being said, you will find that different insurers will ask the question in different ways and the question wording might mean that you don't have to disclose your drug use with one insurer but would with another. For example, one insurer may ask about your drug use over the last 10 years whilst another might only want to know about the last 5 years.

You have to keep in mind that your answers to the questions on the application will either be checked against your health records as part of your application process or when a claim is made. If your health records show that you used drugs and you haven't disclosed this when asked, then the claim might not be paid.

Speaking to a specialist adviser* who has access to the whole market, may provide guidance as to which insurance company is best, based on how the question is asked. An experienced adviser can ensure that the question is answered in a way that makes you comfortable whilst satisfying the insurer so that your policy is valid for a claim.

Can I get life insurance if I have used illegal drugs in the past

Yes, you can usually arrange life insurance if you have used illegal drugs in the past. The following details will determine whether or not this is possible:

  • Which drugs did you use?
  • How long ago did you use the drugs?
  • What was the frequency of your drug use?
  • Details of any health impacts that the drug use caused or exacerbated.
  • Are you drug-free now?

If you used drugs in the past then the longer it has been since your last used them, the more likely it is that you'll be able to arrange life and critical illness insurance. Intravenous drug use can require HIV, Hepatitis B and C tests to be requested. A drug habit is different to occasional drug use and the more detailed drug questionnaire (you may be sent one to complete) will reveal this.

Likely Outcomes to a Life or Critical Illness Insurance Application with Drug Use
Historical or Current Drug Use Details Likely Outcome after applying for Life or Critical Illness Insurance
  • Cannabis used occasionally over a year ago
  • Other drugs used more than 7 years ago
  • Intravenous drug used more than 7 years ago (may require HIV, Hepatitis B & C test)
Accepted at the quoted price / standard terms
  • Cannabis used weekly less than a year ago (smoker rates will apply)
  • Other drugs used more than 5 years ago
  • Intravenous drugs used more than 5 years ago (may require HIV, Hepatitis B & C test)
Expect a small increase to the quoted price
  • Cannabis used once a week less than a year ago (smoker rates will apply)
  • Other drugs used more than 3 years ago
  • Intravenous drugs used more than 5 years ago (may require HIV, Hepatitis B & C test)
Expect an increase to the quoted price
  • Cannabis use daily less than a year ago (smoker rates will apply)
  • Multi drug use
  • A drug overdose
  • Other drugs used less than 3 years ago
  • Intravenous drugs used less than 5 years ago (may require HIV, Hepatitis B & C test)
You will need specialist advice*
NB - the above is an indication of the outcomes that you can expect only. The outcome of your personal application will depend on your overall health and lifestyle.

Does drug use void life insurance?

Your life insurance may not pay out if your death is caused by a drug overdose or drug misuse as these are commonly excluded scenarios within the terms and conditions of a policy. However, there are sometimes grey areas and as long as you were completely honest about your health and lifestyle habits when you applied for the life insurance policy, it may be possible to contest a declined life insurance claim. It is useful to have your life insurance adviser provide assistance in this respect as they will be better versed in how to contest a declined claim.

Can I get Income Protection if I have used illegal drugs?

Income protection provides you with a regular income if you become incapacitated and can't do your job. Life insurance companies treat this type of insurance slightly differently from life and critical illness insurance as it represents a slightly different risk. You can still follow the information provided in the table of outcomes for life insurance and critical illness insurance. However, you should bear in mind that the insurer will look more closely at any time that you have taken off work either directly or indirectly due to your drug use. If your history of drug use has affected your ability to work, it is likely to increase the cost of this insurance.

We would recommend that you read the next paragraph that tells you how to arrange a callback from a specialist adviser to guide you to the best solution.

Best and Cheapest way to get life insurance if I have used illegal drugs

Drug use can be a tricky area and if you feel at all unsure about where to start then you should speak with a specialist life insurance adviser. You can discuss your details with the adviser and find out which companies will treat you the fairest as well as offer the best prices. You can do this anonymously until you're confident and happy to proceed with a formal application, which can be some comfort if you find it a difficult subject to speak about.

At Money to the Masses we have vetted an independent life insurance broker* that provides this type of specialist advice. The life insurance advisers are trained and have access to the whole personal insurance market so they can hunt around for the best insurance company for you. They'll also be able to do some research before you start completing forms so that you don't waste your time.

If your experience is likely to fall into drug abuse or a history of habitual drug use then we would recommend that you speak to someone to arrange your life insurance for the best outcome. Also, if your mental health has been impacted or you've required counselling the adviser will be able to navigate the combination of factors that you share with them.

Besides finding the right insurance company for you, the advisers are also trained to provide advice to help you arrange the right amount and term for your insurance to suit your personal circumstances. Additionally. they can help to put your life insurance into a trust which ensures the monies go to the right people in the event of your premature demise.

You can arrange a callback from an adviser using this form* and there is no charge for the advice that you receive. You'll even receive up to £100 cashback as a Money to the Masses reader once you've arranged your insurance.


If a link has an * beside it this means that it is an affiliated link. If you go via the link, Money to the Masses may receive a small fee which helps keep Money to the Masses free to use. This link can be used if you do not wish to help Money to the Masses and do not wish to qualify for the cashback referred to in the article