Finding a life insurance carrier to issue a life policy to someone who has survived cancer is possible. If you want life insurance after surviving cancer and don't know what to expect, we will help you find answers. While surviving cancer will not necessarily prevent you from buying coverage, the options may be limited, and premiums will likely be high. The type of coverage and death benefit amount will vary based on several factors that insurance carriers will consider.
What you will need to consider as you look for coverage:
Guaranteed issue: you can be covered regardless of health conditions
Term life policies: rates are more affordable than other policy types
Choices for cancer survivors: options available if uninsured pre-diagnosis
Understanding life insurance coverage for cancer survivors
Insurance companies have an “all-cause” death benefit clause in their policies, meaning if they issued the policy before a cancer diagnosis or any other critical illness, the death benefit will be paid upon the insured’s death. However, qualifying for new insurance after you’ve had cancer could be more challenging.
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The greatest hurdle to overcome is the insurers’ underwriting and rating system when issuing life insurance. These are the rating categories used when considering covering individuals:
- Standard. This is the highest risk rating; premiums are typically the highest for this risk category.
- Standard Plus. This is the second highest risk rating category. Premiums are more accessible in this category.
- Preferred. This category is the second lowest group. The insurance cost at this rate is usually low because the applicants are generally in good health.
- Preferred Plus. Individuals in this category have the lowest premiums and best coverage options since it’s considered a low-risk category. Applicants in this category are in excellent health.
The category placement following successful cancer treatment will be determined by specific factors. Some characteristics to determine whether you qualify for insurance, the type of insurance you will qualify for, and your premiums include:
We've examined how insurance companies determine risk and how a cancer diagnosis is part of that determination. Let’s look at what options you may have for coverage.
Life insurance after cancer
Below are two options to consider, with the highest possibility of getting you covered.
Group life insurance through your employer
Employees can typically be covered through group insurance if their employer provides life insurance as part of the employee benefits package. This may be your best option for affordable coverage, and group policies guarantee coverage regardless of health.
The coverage amount may be less than an individual policy; however, considering the ease of getting coverage, this is worth looking into.
Guaranteed issue life policies
These policies fall under the umbrella of permanent life insurance, so you will have coverage for as long as the premiums are paid.
The death benefit on these policies is quite limited, but the only requirement is typically age. However, you are guaranteed coverage at a higher rate if you are between 40 and 85 years old.
Life insurance for cancer survivors
Several options are available if you were uninsured before a cancer diagnosis and wish to enroll in a plan. You may pay a higher premium for several years following treatment and a clean bill of health, and the waiting period for a benefit payout might be longer. Before purchasing a policy, explore all options and choose a plan to meet your needs and budget. Some options to consider include:
- Term life insurance. Term policies become more accessible depending on how long you have been clear of cancer. Typically, you will be able to qualify after 1 to 5 years, depending on the type of cancer. Cervical and prostate cancers typically require a one-year waiting period, while bone and metastatic cancer require a five-year waiting period to qualify for lower rates.
- Simplified issue life insurance. These policies do not require a medical exam and usually only require a short health questionnaire. If you are not in perfect health but are cancer-free, simplified issue policies may be a good option.
- Final expense insurance. These policies are basically the same as the “guaranteed issue." The face amounts are typically limited as they are designed to cover burial and other end-of-life expenses.
Improving your chances of getting life insurance after cancer
You can take specific steps to increase your chances of getting life insurance after cancer and getting it at lower rates. Here are some suggestions to follow:
- Don’t use tobacco. Rates for tobacco users are much higher than for non-users.
- Adopt healthy habits. Eating healthy and exercising will improve your overall health and help you get insurance at lower rates.
- Keep a clear driving record. Insurance carriers look at DUIs, arrests, or other criminal activities and may deny coverage if they find them.
- Avoid risky lifestyle choices. Hobbies such as scuba diving, sky diving, hunting, etc., will impact your premiums as you look to buy insurance.
Surviving cancer can be a life-changing event. It is a time when many choices and decisions are made to prepare for the future, and getting life insurance is often part of those decisions.
There is comfort in knowing that regardless of your health, you can get life insurance coverage to protect your loved ones from unexpected expenses.
Can cancer patients get insurance after diagnosis?
Yes, it is possible to get life insurance after a cancer diagnosis. Premium will be higher, and coverage may be limited but having some form of coverage when going through cancer is prudent for anyone suffering from the disease.
What is the most affordable type of life insurance for someone with a cancer diagnosis?
If you are employed and your employer has the option for you to buy life insurance through their group plan, this will be the most affordable option. If that is not an option, a guaranteed issue term policy will probably be the next best option.
How can I improve my chance of getting life insurance after overcoming cancer?
Improve your chances by adopting healthy habits, such as a balanced diet and regular exercise, maintaining a clean driving record, avoiding risky lifestyle choices, and refraining from tobacco use.
Despite the obstacles faced after battling cancer, it is possible to get life insurance coverage. Premiums may be higher, but having coverage under the circumstances is a high priority.
Term life insurance is a viable choice for affordable coverage. Even though premiums will be higher for cancer survivors, your premiums will still be better than for permanent insurance. The longer you have been clear of cancer, the lower the premiums.
Look into employer-provided group life insurance. This is the fastest and least expensive way to get insurance coverage if you have cancer.
Make sure to include all pertinent information when applying for life insurance. You can be denied for any omissions, even if unintentional.