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Protecting What Matters Most


Life Insurance After Cancer: Know Your Options

While battling cancer can be tough enough, you may be met with another uphill battle after your diagnosis – trying to secure a life insurance policy. Finding reasonable life insurance quotes or a carrier who will work with you after you receive a cancer diagnosis can be a challenging endeavor. As impossible as it may seem, you do have options when it comes to successfully securing a policy.

Getting approved for life insurance after cancer

Being approved for a life insurance policy will depend on several factors including diagnosis, length of time that you have been cancer-free, type of cancer, stage and treatment plan. If you are currently receiving cancer treatment or are in remission and seeking life insurance, almost all insurance carriers will determine your eligibility based on guidelines from the National Cancer Institute’s SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results) Database. This database offers reports on almost three million anonymous cancer patients and provides insurance carriers with patient demographics, morphology, diagnosis stages, first-course treatments, tumor locations, follow-up procedures and more.

Unfortunately, if you are currently undergoing treatment, it will be more difficult to get approved for a policy. Although it’s unusual to be considered for life insurance if you’re still undergoing treatment, if the prognosis is good, some patients may be eligible for a policy. For instance, if you are diagnosed with a non-melanoma skin cancer, most life insurance companies would consider you low risk and your chances at securing a policy could run quite high.

For those that are post-treatment, one of the biggest concerns that life insurance companies have is how long you’ve been cancer-free. If you are in a doctor’s care and have a clean bill of health, you may be eligible for life insurance. If that’s the case, you may be asked a series of questions from the insurance company about your medical history to receive a life insurance policy including:

  • What was the stage and grade of the cancer?

  • What was 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?

All of these questions help the insurance company determine whether you may be someone they are willing to insure. As a current patient, attempting to get a life insurance policy will most likely end unsuccessfully. Most life insurance carriers will want to see you cancer-free for five to seven years before considering you for a standard policy. Each carrier has a designated time period that must be met and will want to see your physician’s notes regarding the type of cancer, the treatments you had, any follow up notes, and some type of current treatment plan or physician-recommended lifestyle change you have implemented to stay cancer-free.

Additionally, if you are having a difficult time being approved for a life insurance policy on your own, you may be able to obtain one through your employer with a “group” rate. There are also skilled advisors who specialize in working with higher risks candidates looking to secure life insurance.

How much can I expect to pay for life insurance?

How much you pay for your life insurance policy varies for everyone. The cancers that are considered as “low risk”, such as non-melanoma skin cancer, early stage breast cancer, prostate, testicular and thyroid cancer, are typically treatable cancers and could be eligible for standard rates. Other forms of cancer may also be covered, but the life insurance company may initially add a surcharge, known as a temporary flat extra. This surcharge will disappear after a set period of time and is calculated with your benefit amount. For example, let’s say you applied for a $250,000 benefit amount and are quoted a standard policy rate of $9,000 per year, plus a flat rate fee of $4.50 per $1,000 of your total benefit amount ($4.50 X 250). The flat rate fee would be added on until a set amount of time has passed that you are officially considered cancer-free. Then your rate would go back to your initial amount of $9,000 per year.

If you are a cancer survivor, you may be wondering if you will have higher rates than someone who has never faced a cancer diagnosis. This answer depends on the type of cancer you were diagnosed with. The lower the severity of cancer, the better rate you will most likely receive. The same rate theory applies the longer you have gone cancer-free. Insurance carriers will also look at your overall health and your age when determining this rate. 

Last, here are a few tips to getting approved and receiving the best possible premium if you are a cancer survivor seeking life insurance:

1. Make an organized binder that includes your first pathology report, all of your medical records and treatment plans. You want to offer life insurance carriers the most complete timeline and history of your health. Having these records on hand will also minimize delays if a specific carrier needs certain reports or records.

2. Stay diligent on your treatment plans. Life insurance companies want to know that you are keeping your follow-up appointments and implementing any lifestyle changes ordered by your doctor.

3. Speak with a skilled advisor who has experience with cancer survivors/patients and who will contact multiple life insurance companies on your behalf to find the best fit for your type of cancer.

4. Ask your insurance advisor about a “graded” life insurance policy if you are declined a full death benefit policy. In a graded policy, death benefits increase as you get older.

Whether you are currently undergoing treatment or your cancer has successfully been treated, speak with an experienced and trusted TMA Insurance Trust advisor today about your options for securing a life insurance policy.



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