Buying life insurance as a cancer patient can prove to be a challenge. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer recently, or have been a cancer patient in the past, you should know that life insurance coverage could still be available to you in the future. Depending on the type of cancer that you were/are diagnosed with and the length of time that has passed, it may be possible to qualify for either traditionally-underwritten term life insurance or a guaranteed-issue policy.
To determine the type and amount of coverage that you can apply for, it is important to learn how companies evaluate life insurance for cancer patients and survivors. The best part is that getting life insurance after cancer can even be affordable when you find the right carrier to work with.
Can You Get Life Insurance After A Cancer Diagnosis?
If you’re applying for life insurance following a cancer diagnosis, a company’s underwriters will need to know some specific information about your condition in order to determine how high risk of an applicant you are, whether or not you qualify for coverage, and how much your rates should be.
Some of the key questions that you will likely be asked include:
- When were you initially diagnosed with cancer?
- What was the type of cancer that you were diagnosed with?
- What was the manner of treatment that your doctor recommended?
- What medication are/were you taking for your condition?
- If applicable, how long have you been cancer-free?
Life insurance companies may also ask additional questions relating to your condition, such as:
- Did your cancer involve tumors, and if so, what size were the tumors?
- What was the stage and grade of the cancer you were diagnosed with?
- Were your lymph nodes involved?
- Did the cancer metastasize?
- Regarding your cancer treatment, what were the start and end dates?
- What was the final date of your cancer treatment?
- Since completing treatment, have you experienced any relapses?
Finally, you will be required to undergo a medical examination. During this health exam, you will meet with a paramedical professional (paramedic). Typically, the meeting will take place at your home or place of business – whichever is most convenient for you.
The primary component of the medical exam entails providing a blood and urine sample. Life insurance companies test blood and urine samples for major health issues (e.g. cancer, heart disease, and diabetes), pre-existing conditions, alcohol, nicotine, and drugs, including THC/marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, etc.
How To Get A Cancer Life Insurance Policy
Getting life insurance as a cancer patient currently undergoing treatment can be very challenging. However, buying life insurance as a cancer survivor is certainly feasible, assuming you’ve completed the waiting period post treatment. How long you’ve been cancer-free will determine the likelihood of you qualifying for coverage.
The following are guidelines estimating the waiting periods for different types of cancer.
- Bladder Cancer – 2 Years
- Bone Cancer – 5 Years
- Breast Cancer – 2 Years
- Cervix Cancer – 1 Year
- Cervix (In Situ) – 0 Years
- Colon Cancer – 2 Years
- Esophagus Cancer – 3 Years
- Kidney Cancer – 3 Years
- Larynx Cancer – 1 Year
- Leukemia – 10 Years
- Lung Cancer – 3 Years
- Lymphoma – 2 Years
- Metastatic Cancer – 5 Years
- Ovarian Cancer – 3 Years
- Parotid – 2 Years
- Pancreatic Cancer – 2 Years
- Prostate – 1 Year
- Rectum Cancer – 2 Years
- Salivary – 2 Years
- Skin Melanoma – 1 Year
- Testicular Cancer – 1 Year
What Does In Situ Means?
When doctors, insurance policies, and companies use the term “in situ”, they mean that the cancer is localized. In situ cancers are usually considered the most treatable, and thus have no waiting periods and a minimal effect on your life insurance rates.
Life Insurance and Special Medical Issues For Specific Cancers
Depending on the type of cancer that you were diagnosed with, there may also be specific medical factors that need to be examined by the life insurance company in order to determine your coverage eligibility.
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common types of skin cancer. Because skin cancer cells grow slowly and are usually easily removed, a patient can oftentimes be approved for life insurance at standard rates. This means that the policy will not be classified as high risk, and that the cancer survivor will be offered affordable premiums.
Melanoma is a more deadly form of skin cancer. While melanoma is diagnosed in about 4% of skin cancer patients, it is responsible for a majority of deaths. However, if diagnosed and treated at an early stage, patients can expect a full recovery.
The biggest concern for life insurance companies underwriting cancer patients with melanoma is that the cancer can spread to other parts of the body, including the lymphatic system and other major organs. If the cancer is removed through surgery and you’ve been in remission for a year or two, you may be eligible to buy life insurance as a cancer survivor.
Unfortunately, if the cancer has spread and requires treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment, insurance providers will expect you to show proof of being cancer-free for as long as 10 years before approving coverage. You may even be eligible for a policy after 5 to 7 years, but with a higher cost.
Anyone who has had prostate cancer will need to provide the insurance company with information regarding their Gleason score and Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels. Your Gleason score determines the likelihood that your prostate cancer will spread. If your test results report a low probability of the cancer spreading, then you will have a better chance of getting cheap rates.
To buy life insurance as a breast cancer survivor, the company will need to know if you have completed your treatment and whether or not you are in full remission. Carriers will also request medical information such as the date you were diagnosed, the type of treatment you underwent, how regularly you’ve been tested since, and how long you’ve been cancer-free.
Life Insurance With Cancer Patients Currently In Treatment
If you’re currently in treatment or still unable to qualify for a traditional term life insurance policy after treatment, you may opt to buy a guaranteed issue policy. Guaranteed life insurance, the most expensive type of coverage, does not require that you take a medical exam as a part of the underwriting process and companies ask very few medical-related questions on the application.
However, carriers limit the death benefit to less than $100,000, and only pay out the full amount if you outlive a specific waiting period detailed in the contract (usually 1 or 2 years).
Regardless of how long it has been since your cancer diagnosis, it’s important that you stay positive. Even if you’ve been denied life insurance coverage in the past, it is still possible that you can qualify for a policy in the future. The best course of action is to complete the waiting period post treatment and then move forward from there.
It is also wise to closely follow your doctor’s plan of treatment while maintaining a healthy diet and exercise plan since these factors can positively affect your life insurance application as well. Likewise, applicants who are non-smokers and who do not participate in dangerous hobbies and habits will improve their chances of qualifying for coverage.