Life Insurance for Cancer Patients and Survivors – Forbes Advisor


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Being recently diagnosed or treated for cancer will usually hamper your ability to purchase traditional life insurance.

“Depending on the type of cancer and whether it spreads to other parts of the body, you may not be able to get traditional term or whole life insurance for many years,” says Zachary Pugh, chief underwriter for Legal. & GeneralAmerica.

However, a diagnosis of cancer is not always a guaranteed barrier to obtaining life insurance.

Can you get life insurance if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer?

You can buy some types of life insurance if you currently have cancer, but it can be limited and expensive.
“It depends on the type of cancer,” says Jeremy Hallett, founder of Quotacy, a national online life insurance agency based in Minneapolis. “Non-melanoma skin cancers generally don’t affect the price of life insurance at all, while a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer can make it nearly impossible to get coverage. A diagnosis of malignant cancer will usually prevent your ability to obtain a policy.

Travis Price, a senior independent insurance agent in Manton, Michigan, agrees that most insurers don’t place limits on basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer).

“However, if you had small cell lung cancer, there would be a high probability that they would never place life insurance with you due to the nature of the cancer,” Price says.

What are the types of life insurance for cancer patients?

“After a cancer diagnosis, you will likely be eligible for guaranteed issue life insurance, group life insurance, and final expense life insurance, which covers final expenses and funeral costs,” said Mark Friedlander, spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-JE). “However, the two most common types of life insurance — term and whole — may not be available to you after a cancer diagnosis.”

You generally cannot be rejected for these types of life insurance, and applications do not require a life insurance medical exam or even health questions.

A trade-off is that coverage amounts can be low. Another downside is that guaranteed issue, final expense life insurance usually has graduated death benefits, so if you die within two or three years of purchasing the policy, your beneficiaries won’t receive the payment. integral. (The exact time depends on the policy and will be specified.)

Wilson Coffman, an independent life insurance agent in Huntsville, Alabama, was diagnosed with colon cancer three years ago while trying to get his own life insurance. Coffman warns that guaranteed issue life insurance policies only provide low payouts, typically $5,000 to $25,000.

“The details of your diagnosis will also factor into what coverage you may be eligible for,” says Friedlander.

How long does it take to qualify for life insurance after cancer?

While every insurance company is different, Triple-I’s Friedlander says you generally need to be in remission from cancer for at least five years to qualify for new term life insurance, whole life insurance, or other options. types of coverage.

A waiting period for life insurance after cancer can vary depending on the type of cancer, how invasive it is, and the risk of recurrence.

Pugh of Legal & General gives an example: “Our company can generally cover survivors of breast and prostate cancer if they are three years after treatment, although the cost may be considerably higher.”

Wait times for life insurance after cancer vary from insurer to insurer. “Some insurers have stricter underwriting standards for certain cancers that would require remission for a minimum period of 10 years,” says Friedlander.

Life insurance waiting times after different types of cancer

Here are examples of waiting times for different types of cancer from Trusted Choice, a network of independent insurance agents:

  • Bladder cancer: 2 years
  • Bone cancer: 5 years
  • Breast cancer: 2 years
  • Cervical cancer: 1 year
  • Colon cancer: 2 years
  • Kidney cancer: 3 years
  • Leukemia: 10 years
  • Lung cancer: 3 years
  • Lymphoma: 2 years
  • Metastatic cancer: 5 years
  • Ovarian cancer: 3 years
  • Prostate: 1 year
  • Rectal cancer: 2 years
  • Cutaneous melanoma: 1 year

What is the best life insurance after cancer?

“If you’ve been in remission for at least five years, traditional life insurance might still be an option,” says Triple-I’s Friedlander. Here are some possible options.

Term life insurance

If you can qualify for term life insurance, it’s usually the most affordable way to buy coverage. You will likely need to pass a life insurance medical exam and be prepared to answer questions about your previous cancer diagnosis and treatment.

With term life insurance, you lock in rates for a certain period of time, such as 10 or 20 years.

Permanent life insurance

Types of permanent life insurance may be an option, such as whole life insurance and universal life insurance. These policies can provide life insurance for as long as you live, assuming you pay the premiums.

Simplified issue life insurance

Although there is no medical exam with simplified issue life insurance, you may be required to complete a short health questionnaire.

According to Friedlander, “If you don’t have cancer but aren’t completely healthy, simplified delivery may be a good choice.”

Guaranteed issue life insurance

In the absence of a medical exam, health questions, or medical history requirements, you cannot be declined for guaranteed issue life insurance. It sounds attractive, but you’ll face a hefty cost for the amount of coverage you get and the policy will have graduated death benefits.

Funeral life insurance

Designed for life insurance buyers over 50, funeral insurance is intended to pay end-of-life costs, such as funeral expenses and unpaid medical bills.

“No medical examination is required to obtain this coverage,” emphasizes Friedlander.

How does cancer affect the cost of life insurance?

Most life insurance companies use a classification system to determine life insurance rates for all policies, including those for cancer patients and survivors. According to Triple-I, the most common levels of this scoring system are:

  • super favorite
  • Prefer
  • Standard
  • Sub-standard

“Policyholders designated as ‘standard’ or ‘substandard’ typically pay the highest rates,” says Friedlander.

Depending on your age and type of cancer, you could pay four times as much for a life insurance policy for several years, depending on how long you’ve been cancer-free, warns Pugh.

“I had a $500,000 life insurance policy in place before my cancer diagnosis. It was costing me $100 a month, even after I was diagnosed and treated for cancer,” Coffman says. “I was quoted for a second identical life insurance policy for $500,000 after I had cancer, but the cost rose to $800 a month, which would have been impossible to afford.”

Hallett of Quotacy agrees that five years after a cancer diagnosis and successful treatment, you can probably expect to pay two to four times more for a term or whole life insurance policy than a healthy person without cancer.

What is the best life insurance for people with a family history of cancer?

When purchasing life insurance, your family’s medical history is often factored into the quotes. (That means your parents and siblings.) If your family has a history of cancer, but you personally don’t, there’s no specific life insurance policy more recommended than a another, according to Coffman.

“But be aware that with traditional life insurance, which requires you to share your family medical history, a previous cancer diagnosis in the family could affect your rates and eligibility,” says Friedlander.

In general, the best type of life insurance for you is the type of policy that covers your needs.

“Is this a blanket that should last a lifetime? If so, buy the whole life. Is this coverage you need to protect your family as it grows? Then buy term insurance,” suggests Hallett.

Tips to increase your chances of getting life insurance after cancer

Most importantly, work with an experienced independent life insurance agent. Independent agents work with several insurance companies and will know which ones are most willing to insure cancer survivors. In particular, look for an independent agent who specializes in impaired risk underwriting.

Regardless of when you qualify for life insurance after cancer, you can find cheap life insurance with these strategies.

  • Improve your overall health by eating healthy and exercising.
  • Do not use tobacco. Life insurance quotes for smokers are usually much higher.
  • Work in a low-risk occupation. Friedlander says, “Police, firefighters, pilots and construction workers are among the occupations that may experience higher premiums.”
  • Don’t do risky hobbies like mountaineering, skydiving, and scuba diving. These will be factored into your quotes and will result in higher rates.
  • Keep a criminal record and a clean criminal record. “Drunk driving, prior arrests, and other criminal convictions can affect your rate or even disqualify you from coverage,” Friedlander says.

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Life Insurance FAQs for Cancer Patients

How much does life insurance after cancer cost?

Be prepared to pay two to four times more for a term life insurance or a whole life insurance policy than a healthy person without cancer.

Work with an experienced life insurance agent who can shop around for you and identify companies that may be most profitable for cancer survivors.

What are the types of life insurance for cancer patients?

When it comes to life insurance for cancer patients, it is easier to get guaranteed issue life insurance or a final expense life insurance policy if you are not yet in remission. .

If you’ve been in remission for at least a few years, you may qualify for traditional term or whole life insurance. If you don’t have cancer but aren’t completely healthy, you can also qualify for a simplified issue policy.

When can I take out life insurance after cancer?

The longer you have been in remission, the more likely you are to be approved for traditional life insurance. Life insurance companies may want to wait three or five years or more after your treatment ends before offering you coverage. This period of time will vary by company, which is another reason to work with an experienced life insurance agent.


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