If you have had cancer, you should know that life insurance for cancer patients is available. The best way to know whether you can qualify is to learn about the way a life insurance company will evaluate you as a cancer survivor. There are many scenarios where a cancer patient can buy life insurance and at an affordable rate.
Interesting Statistics about Cancer in the U.S.
- An estimated 848,170 men and 790,740 women were diagnosed with cancer in 2012
- 41.24% of Americans born today will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives.
- The overall 5 year survival rate of cancer victims between 2002 and 2008 in the U.S. was 65.4%.
Can You Get Life Insurance After a Cancer Diagnosis?
You can potentially get life insurance following a cancer diagnosis, but it will depend on several factors. The most important information that a life insurance company will want to know include:
- The date you were first diagnosed with cancer
- The type of cancer that was diagnosed
- Manner of treatment
- How long you have been cancer-free
Additional questions insurance companies could ask you include:
- What was the stage and grade of the cancer?
- What size were the tumor(s)?
- Were lymph nodes involved?
- Did the cancer metastasize?
- The start and completion dates of your treatment.
- When was the last date of treatment?
- Have you had any relapses?
- What kind of medications are you taking?
Life Insurance and Medical Issues for Specific Cancers
The following forms of cancer each have unique specific medical factors which a life insurance company will examine when considering a cancer life insurance policy:
Skin Cancer (Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma)
Basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common types of skin cancer, diagnosed in about 90% of skin cancer patients. These skin cancers grow very slowly and are easily removed. If the cancer has not spread over the next year or two, and you are in reasonably good health, you will likely be approved for a life insurance policy at standard rates.
This is a more dangerous form of skin cancer. Melanoma cancers only appear in about 4% of all skin cancer diagnosed, but accounts for the majority of skin cancer deaths. However, if it is diagnosed and treated early enough, there is a good chance of full recovery.
The main problem with melanoma is that it can metastasize and spread to other locations in the body, including the lymphatic system and major organs. If the cancer has been removed through surgery, and you have been cancer free for one or two years, you may be eligible for a life insurance policy.
If the skin cancer has spread and has been treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment, then you may have to be cancer free for as long as 10 years before you can be approved for a life insurance policy. You may be eligible for a life insurance policy after five to seven years, but you will most likely pay a higher premium.
If you are a breast cancer survivor, the most important factor the life insurance company will want to know is whether you are in full remission. The life insurance carrier will ask you questions such as the date you were first diagnosed, the type of treatment you received, how regularly you’ve been tested, and how long you’ve been cancer free.
The longer that you’ve been cancer free, the better your chances of getting approved for post cancer life insurance.
The two main issues that a life insurance company will want to look at include your Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels as well as the Gleason score. The Gleason score determines how likely it is for the cancer to spread. If the level is low, the likelihood of the cancer spreading is much less.
The biggest issue life insurance companies will be looking at is how long you’ve been cancer-free since your surgery or other medical treatment, and that you’ve undergone regular testing. If you are under the care of a doctor and have a clean bill of health, you may be eligible for life insurance. You may also be eligible soon after treatment, but you can expect to pay higher rates for a policy.
How to Get a Cancer Life Insurance Policy
The first thing to do, unfortunately, is wait. Attempting to get life insurance as a cancer patient will most likely not be successful, and most cancers have a waiting period post treatment. So, wait until you have completed your treatment and your waiting period to apply for a policy.
The following is a guideline to approximate waiting periods for different forms of cancer:
Type of Cancer - Waiting Period Guideline
- 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
- Ovary cancer - 3 Years
- Partoid - 2 Years
- Pancreatic - 2 Years
- Prostate - 1 Year
- Rectum cancer - 2 Years
- Salivary - 2 Years
- Skin melanoma - 1 Year
- Testis cancer - 1 Year
What Does In Situ Mean?
You may hear the term "in situ" regarding certain cancers, and you may also find this term in the insurance policy you are reviewing. In situ simply means that the cancer is localized. For example, a melanoma cancer in situ has not spread and is located in the upper layers of skin. In situ cancers are typically considered the most treatable.
Can You Lower Life Insurance Rates if You Stay Cancer Free?
If you remain cancer-free, you may be able to lower your life insurance rates over time. However, your rate depends on the type of cancer you have, and how long you’ve been in remission. Most life insurance companies follow the guidelines provided by the National Cancer Institute’s database known as SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results).
Some cancers are considered relatively “low risk.” These include non-melanoma skin cancer, early stage breast cancer, prostate, testicular and thyroid cancer. These are typically treatable cancers and you may soon be eligible for standard rates.
Other forms of cancer may also be covered, but the life insurance company may initially add a surcharge, or temporary flat extra, on top of the premium which is eliminated after a set period of time.
When finding life insurance for cancer patients, the most important thing you can do is provide the company with as much information as you can.
Strategy to Get Lower Life Insurance Rates for Cancer Patients
- Gather all medical records beforehand. These include the first pathology report, all available medical records, and the treatment plan you’ve followed.
- Always follow the doctor’s treatment plan. Taking matters into your own hands and not following your treatment plan may compromise your ability to qualify for life insurance.
- Get life Insurance quotes from different companies. No two insurance companies are alike. Consider getting the assistance of an independent agent who can look for cancer life insurance policies and compare rates and options on your behalf.
- Try alternative life insurance. If the premiums are still too expensive, try an alternative approach such as obtaining life insurance through your employer or a professional organization.
- Consider a graded policy. This is a type of life insurance policy where the death benefits increase as you age.
- Don’t apply until after all of your tests. Life insurance companies want to know that your health is stabilized. If your tests show that you are in complete remission, you can potentially qualify for lower life insurance rates.
- Give it some time. The longer you have been in remission, the more likely you will receive lower rates, so it can pay to wait a little while to apply.
Other Important Things to Know About Cancer Life Insurance
The first and most important thing is to not be discouraged, even if you do have cancer. If you’ve been denied coverage before you’ve gotten past the waiting period, apply again after the waiting period.
If have been turned down even though you’ve been in remission for a significant period of time, then your best bet is to contact an independent agent in the Trusted Choice network who specializes in underwriting life insurance. Your agent can get life insurance quotes from multiple insurance companies and help you compare the options and benefits.
Independent agents in the Trusted Choice network can advocate for you and can very often find the policy that is right for your needs. Additionally, these agents work for you and not the life insurance company, which means their primary interest is in meeting your needs and advocating for you.