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Can You Get Life Insurance As A Cancer Survivor?

Can You Get Life Insurance As A Cancer Survivor?
Fiona Staff4/22/2021

Your health and medical history can play a significant role in the life insurance-buying process. Not only can your current and past conditions impact your rates, but they can determine whether or not you’ll need to submit to a medical exam, and can even influence some underwriting decisions.

So, it’s not surprising that having cancer as a pre-existing condition could affect how you buy a new life insurance policy. As a cancer survivor, though, you likely appreciate how important it is to protect your loved ones with the financial safety net that life insurance coverage can provide. 

Today, let’s chat a bit about whether or not you can buy life insurance as a cancer survivor, what to expect from the process, and if there are any limitations to your coverage.

Buying Life Insurance After Cancer

Pre-existing conditions, as well as a family history of certain conditions, are taken into account anytime you buy life insurance. This could mean a diagnosis of heart disease or diabetes, a history of seizures, or, of course, cancer. 

Generally speaking, if you are trying to buy life insurance after cancer — meaning, once you are in remission and are no longer being treated — you should be able to find affordable coverage that protects those you care about most. Personal factors such as your age and current health status will play into the application process and impact your rates, just as they would have before your cancer diagnosis.

The longer it’s been since your cancer treatment ended, the more affordable your coverage options will likely be. And after you have been in remission for five years or more, you can usually qualify for traditional term and whole life insurance policies again.

Determining Factors

Certain factors are taken into account anytime someone is looking to buy term or whole life insurance. These include, but are not limited to, your:

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Personal and family health history

  • Occupation

  • Tobacco use

Whether or not you’ve survived cancer, these factors will still impact your life insurance coverage options and pricing. This is important to keep in mind, as you may have developed new conditions and/or diagnoses related to your cancer and past treatment.

When you are a cancer survivor, your life insurance carrier will also consider additional factors. They will want to know:

  • How long you’ve been in remission

  • The type of cancer you had

  • What grade or stage your cancer was

A family history of certain cancers can also be taken into account, especially if they are hereditary cancers or those with higher mortality rates. 

Along with gathering these details, your potential insurance company will often reference Survival, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) data published by the National Cancer Institute. The SEER program provides expected survival statistics, and can help an insurance carrier gauge the level of risk that your diagnosis presents. 

Using all of this information, they will be able to determine whether or not you qualify for traditional coverage, how much life insurance you are able to buy, and what your rates will be for the policy.

Buying Life Insurance During Cancer Treatment

If you are hoping to buy life insurance while still undergoing cancer treatment — or you’ve just ended your treatment recently — you will likely find that your coverage options are limited.

Typically, you will be denied coverage for traditional term life or whole life policies if you are still battling cancer or haven’t been in remission for five or more years. (There are certain exceptions, such as non-melanoma skin cancers.) That’s because your future health and prognosis can be difficult to determine while you’re still being treated.

In this case, a guaranteed issue policy might be your best bet for the time being.

Guaranteed issue coverage is a form of whole life insurance that does not require any sort of medical exam. With many carriers, you won’t even need to answer medical-related questions in order to buy a guaranteed issue policy.

Of course, there is a caveat: guaranteed issue policies come at a higher price tag and have a lower death benefit than traditional life insurance. If you’re hoping to simply buy coverage that could help with final expenses or provide a small death benefit to your loved ones, this may be the right move until you qualify for a more traditional policy.

Bottom Line

Buying life insurance is generally a pretty easy process. If you have a history of cancer or are currently undergoing treatment, though, you may find that your options are more limited. 

The longer you’ve been out of treatment — and the better your prognosis — the easier it will be to purchase life insurance coverage to protect your loved ones. As time goes on, you may find that you’ll even qualify for competitive rates on traditional policies again.

Interested in your life insurance policy options, whether you’re in remission or being treated for cancer? Fiona, in partnership with LeapLife, is the fastest, easiest, and most comprehensive way to get matched with personalized life insurance policy quotes. Whether you’re looking for no-medical-exam coverage options or just want a quick online quote, LeapLife and its representatives can help.

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