Alcoholism Risk Underwriting

Life insurance underwriters have a number of tools at their disposal to underwrite alcohol abusive and alcohol dependent applicants. Their first hint could come from lab results. The CDT, an alcohol marker, has always been the result of choice used to decline an applicant based on alcohol abuse. The CDT is usually only run as a back up when liver functions are out of normal since heavy drinking can lead to liver strain. The liver function GGT, serum γ-glutamyltransferase, is most often the triggering liver function.

A recent study in the Oxford Journal clarifies more about these tests and also puts more in perspective some problems with the way insurance companies use these lab results. With the exception of only one company I know a positive CDT is reason enough for a decline without any option for retesting. That one company will dig further in the presence of a positive CDT and even allow a retest. Having said that, the CDT is a fairly accurate indicator of someone who has been drinking too much, and not just a little too much, so if you get nuked for a positive CDT and you drink too much don’t coming running to us. It’s time to deal with the issue. However, if wounded by a positive CDT in the absence of daily drinking, we might be able to get your world back on track for you.

So, back to the problems with how the CDT is used by insurance companies and how, in some cases it may be misused. We had a client not long ago that was declined by Banner Life due to a positive CDT. Like most companies Banner considers a positive CDT to be too much risk to continue to underwrite. Why they ran it is still a mystery since there weren’t any trigger labs such as liver functions, either SGOT, SGPT or GGT. Based on the study in the Oxford Journal that would indicate that the CDT only has about a 50% chance of being accurate, kind of a pretty large margin of error. We applied through the other company mentioned above and it turned out the first test was a false positive CDT and he was approved at preferred rates.

So what if the CDT had been triggered by an elevated GGT so now you have an elevated liver function and a positive alcohol marker? Well, that closes the reliability gap considerably, but only to an accuracy rate of 90%. So even with the double “proof positive” that you are a heavy drinker there is still a 10% chance that the assumption is incorrect. With a 10% error rate in the result, even though companies will continue to treat that as 100%, if you don’t drink a bit much daily, there is a reasonable chance that a retest could turn things around.

Another caveat or liar beware warning on this. You might be able to go without drinking a while and turn a negative test, but if your medical records have references to any drinking issues, you’re toast. This isn’t about gaming the system but rather how to fix a true error when most companies won’t talk to you about it. If you have any questions or have been blindsided by what you know is a wrong cdt positive, call or email. We can help.


About the Author

Every year millions are needlessly declined for life insurance or approved and paying far more than they need to. For 14 years, I have specialized in turning those situations around and finding the right life insurance solution at affordable rates. I give every client the personal attention they deserve.

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