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I have a life insurance policy and one of the application questions was "Do you regularly drink alcohol?". I answered "no", because to me it meant "do you drink every day?" or "do you drink every week?" and I can go for weeks or even months without drinking.

However, my colleague thinks this question really means "are you teetotal?" which I am not, and particularly over periods like Christmas I can drink a fair amount.

I would think if they wanted to know if I was teetotal, they would actually ask that. Who is right? I am concerned they may void any claim if they think I have lied.

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    Technically, if you have one drink a year on Christmas Day then you drink alcohol regularly, and if you binge 40 units on three nights a week on average, but on no particular schedule, then you don't drink alcohol regularly. – Mike Scott Jan 29 '18 at 13:31
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    Which life insurance company is asking this question? – Ben Miller Jan 29 '18 at 14:03
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    @BenMiller beaglestreet.com – Darren Jan 29 '18 at 14:04
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    The life insurance company may well refuse to pay out on a policy if you should die in a car accident in which you were one of the people involved (even if you were just a passenger in the car) and the post-mortem (autopsy for US readers) showed that you had been drinking, and especially so if the accident occurred within a year (or maybe two) after the policy was issued (same as with suicides). After that, the policy cannot be contested on the grounds of false declarations. After all, you might have taken up drinking after the policy was issued. Continued.... – Dilip Sarwate Jan 29 '18 at 15:03
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    @liam Or what if someone says, "Regularly? No. I often go several hours without a drink." – Jay Jan 30 '18 at 16:12
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I spoke to their help line (anonymously) and the call centre agent stated they consider regular to be at least one drink per week. If I don't drink that often I can legitimately say I don't drink regularly.

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    As stated, I'd say this is that companies definition, this may or may not apply to other companies – Liam Jan 29 '18 at 15:54
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This is probably a legal question, and I am not a lawyer, but:

I'd say common sense says that if they ask, "Do you drink alcohol regularly?" that is different from "Do you drink alcohol at all?"

It's a poor question because "regularly" is a vague qualifier. As others have noted, does "regularly" mean "every day"? "Every week"? "At least twice a year"? Etc. If this went to court I would think the company would have a hard time proving that someone deliberately lied on the application because his idea of "regularly" was different from what the insurance company had in mind.

I've had insurance applications where they ask, say, "Do you have an average of more than two drinks of alcohol per week?" That's a much more concrete question.

And just by the way, my favorite alcohol consumption question ever: "Has anyone ever annoyed you by complaining about your drinking?" Of course if someone says, "Yeah, my wife is always nagging me about my drinking. But I have it totally under control", I think it's a fair guess that he's an alcoholic. I wonder how many people fall for this question.

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I don't think this is really a personal finance question. Legally, for you to lie, you have to make a false statement of fact. What constitutes "regularly" is a matter of opinion, and therefore statements regarding the matter are not statements of fact. If you drink every day, maybe they could make a claim that you lied, but if there's any reasonable ambiguity, it has to be resolved in favor of you. So a competent lawyer should be able to force them to pay. Whether you or your heirs will be able to afford a lawyer is another matter

  • I checked the help centre before posting and life insurance questions are on-topic. – Darren Jan 30 '18 at 7:24

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