Most cancer survivors can get life insurance after cancer. The type you had, staging, treatment history and recurrence if any determines when life insurance is available and at what rate.
This article answers cancer life insurance questions such as:
- Will life insurance be available after cancer treatment?
- Is life insurance available if my cancer is in remission?
- How long after cancer do I have to wait to buy life insurance?
- Can a person with cancer buy life insurance?
- Can you get life insurance if cancer has returned?
- How does family history of cancer affect my life insurance?
- What life insurance company is best after cancer?
- Do most life insurance policies cover cancer?
- Life insurance by type of cancer you had
According to the American Cancer Society, there will be approximately 1,735,350 new cancer cases diagnosed in 2018, and the number of cancer survivors continues to improve.
Will life insurance be available after cancer treatment?
With cancer, the lower the cancer stage, the shorter the waiting period before life insurance is available. How long you will have to wait (postpone period), generally depends on the following:
- What type of cancer did you have?
- When were you diagnosed with cancer?
- What stage was the cancer?
- How was the cancer treated?
- When did you complete all treatment?
- Has there been any recurrence?
A lot of factors go into life insurance underwriting, but the date of cancer diagnosis and staging are some of the critical factors that determines availability.
A postpone period is the amount of time that life insurers require you to wait after treatment has ended, before the insurer will offer you coverage.
Is life insurance available if my cancer is in remission?
Life insurance is available if you are in complete remission. Once you reach complete remission status, life insurers postpone offering coverage for 1-5 years in most cases. The postpone period depends on the details of the cancer.
The two types of remission are complete remission and partial remission.
With complete remission, you are cancer free and all signs of cancer are gone.
Life insurance should be available after the above postpone periods.
With partial remission, the cancer is still there but the tumor may have gotten smaller, or you have less cancer in your body if it is a cancer such as leukemia.
With partial remission, life insurance options are typically limited to guaranteed issue types of policies.
The availability of guaranteed issue policies will vary by state.
How long after cancer do I have to wait to buy life insurance?
The wait time (postpone period) varies, but general guidelines are as follows:
- Stage 1 surgery only – Postpone period = 6 – 12 months.
- Stage 1 surgery and radiation/chemo – Postpone period = 12 months
- Stage 2 cancers – Postpone period = 12 months (see note #1)
- Stage 3 cancers – Postpone period = 5 years from completion of treatment.
- Stage 4 cancers – Uninsurable. Guaranteed issue and accidental death only.
This is very general in nature as there are many exceptions to this.
When will term life insurance be available to you? That will depend on the exact details, dates, pathology information to provide you with accurate quotes.
Note #1 – There are some stage 2 cancers that are insurable within 6 months of treatment.
Other stage 2 cancers will require longer postpone periods. Examples include breast cancer, lymphomas, bladder cancer, etc.
Can a person with cancer buy life insurance?
The short answer is that if you currently have cancer and need life insurance coverage, you will probably have to wait until treatment is complete before life insurance is available…
But there are some exceptions to the rule.
The types that are insurable now are those that would be unlikely to progress if left untreated.
Examples of this include some low stage prostate cancers, some colon cancers in older age insureds and basal cell skin cancer.
Term life insurance may be available for some, although a guaranteed issue life insurance policy may be the only option for others.
Our article on types of life insurance provides details as to how these policies work.
Can you get life insurance if cancer has returned?
Recurrence in life insurance underwriting is very complicated as it takes into consideration many factors, including:
- What type of cancer did you originally have?
- What was the pathology of the original cancer?
- What type of treatment did you receive?
- Is the recurrent cancer the same type as your original cancer?
- How much time passed since completion of original treatment?
- Has the cancer spread to lymph nodes or other organs?
- What type of treatment did you receive for the recurrent cancer?
- When did you complete recurrent cancer treatment?
Underwriting factors in the original cancer as well as the recurrence of cancer.
Most life insurance companies postpone consideration for 5-10 years after completion of recurrent treatment.
Once this postpone period is over, life insurance is considered on a case by case basis.
How does family history of cancer affect my life insurance?
Family history of cancer will affect your ability to receive the top rate classes unless you choose life insurers that do not penalize you for your parents or siblings’ medical history. Grandparents medical history is not held against you for underwriting.
To complicate matters further, family history guidelines vary by company.
Examples of how family history of cancer vary by company, include:
- Some companies only consider family history if the family member died.
- Other companies penalize you even if the parent or sibling survived.
- If you’re age 60 or older, many carriers will completely disregard family history.
- The age of your family member when they died is a factor with some companies.
- If the parent’s cancer was gender specific (prostate, cervical cancer) it will not be held against you (with the right companies) if you are the opposite gender.
- Some companies penalize you if more than one parent died from cancer.
- There are companies that disregard all family history of cancer, unless there is a hereditary cancer history within the family.
What life insurance company is best after cancer?
The best life insurance company for you will depend on the type of cancer you had, the severity, and the treatment you received.
Life insurance carriers will consider you to be high risk due to your cancer history.
As independent agents specializing in high risk life insurance, we know the companies to work with based on your medical history.
Do most life insurance policies cover cancer?
Yes, life insurance policies cover cancer if you die. The main scenarios typically encountered are cancer survivors who previously had cancer, and those that are diagnosed with cancer after buying a life insurance policy.
Cancer history and life insurance?
Cancer histories disclosed during underwriting are factored into your policy already and will be covered.
Diagnosed with cancer after purchasing life insurance?
If you’re diagnosed with cancer after you have purchased a life insurance policy, you’re insured. The insurance company will pay the death claim.
The life insurance company can’t terminate your policy or reduce the death benefit.
If you die within the first few years (contestability period) of the policy, insurers review death claims to ensure that all medical information was disclosed during underwriting.
If you lied about your health during underwriting, your loved ones may have a problem collecting the death benefit.
Life Insurance by Type of Cancer
- Skin Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
- Breast Cancer
- Thyroid Cancer
- Colon Cancer
- Bladder Cancer
- Cervical Cancer
- Kidney Cancer
Whether you’re a cancer survivor, currently have cancer or were approved for life insurance but now have questions about the price, we’ll help you.
Regardless of your type of cancer history, we have the expertise to help you find coverage.
Request your free, no pressure no obligation life insurance quote today.
Michael J Horbal is the owner of LifeInsuranceAdvisors.com, an independent life insurance agency specializing in high risk life insurance. Since 1998, Michael has helped thousands of consumers with their personal, business, and estate planning life insurance needs. Check out our life insurance blog for detailed articles to help you.