According to the Health Canada, the number of skin cancer cases have been steadily rising in Canada over the past 30 years. It’s estimated that 1 in 73 Canadian women and 1 in 59 men will develop skin cancer within their lifetime.
Can I qualify for life insurance after being diagnosed with skin cancer?
Yes, it is possible. If you were diagnosed with melanoma, you may be able to get coverage — though you may have to pay higher premiums. Some factors considered by insurers include the specific type of skin cancer you had, the stage and grade of your cancer, when you were diagnosed, when your last treatment was and your risk factor for getting skin cancer again.
After a skin cancer diagnosis, the insurer may choose from one of 4 options when choosing whether or not to extend coverage:
Offer coverage as normal. Many forms of non-melanoma skin cancers are considered to be very low risk and won’t affect your ability to get life insurance at all, particularly if your cancer was caught early. If your diagnosis doesn’t affect your long-term risk, you may be eligible for normal coverage. You’ll likely be required to provide medical records proving you’re in remission.
Add exclusions to your policy. Insurers might write into your policy that it won’t pay your beneficiaries if you die from complications due to cancer. Carefully read any exclusions before deciding if the policy is worth the risk.
Increase your premiums. Your insurer may offer full coverage but at higher premiums than somebody who’s never experienced a health issue might pay.
Deny coverage. You may find insurers who aren’t willing to offer coverage if you’re not in remission or have experienced multiple recurrences.
Your insurer will likely ask you a number of questions about your diagnosis when you apply. Confronting invasive questions about your cancer can stir up fear, worry and feelings you might not want brought up. Consider leaning on your loved ones if you need support when answering health-related questions and confirming the details for your insurer.
Questions you may be asked include:
Do you have a family history of cancer? If so, provide details about the family member and the age of onset.
Did the skin cancer lead to a death in your family?
What type of skin cancer did you have?
Where was it located?
Did your cancer spread? If so, did it spread to your lymph nodes?
Has the area been treated or removed? Was it removed by laser, frozen off, burned off or surgically removed?
If surgery was involved, provide the pathology results.
If the skin cancer was not removed, provide reasons why not.
Do you have any follow-up appointments? If so, how often do you follow up with your doctor?
Were you hospitalized for this condition?
What is the contact information for your doctor?
How common is skin cancer?
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, the most serious type of skin cancer, melanoma, is the 7th highest expected type of cancer expected in both men and women.
Critical illness insurance is a type of life insurance that pays out a lump sum when the insured is diagnosed with a serious medical condition. The money can be used to help offset the cost of care, missed work, medical expenses and anything else.
Many critical illness policies will pay out if the insured is diagnosed with skin cancer, but there are often requirements you’ll need to meet. For example, some insurers will only pay out for melanomas or metastatic cancers.
If you’re interested in adding a critical illness benefit to your life insurance policy, talk with your insurer to find out more about what it covers, when it pays out and what exclusions you need to be aware of.
Getting checked regularly
Early detection of skin cancer is vital, and can significantly increase your chance of successfully treating the disease. According to Health Canada, 84% of men and 91% of women diagnosed with melanoma will survive for at least 5 years — but it gets more dangerous the longer it goes undetected.
Health Canada recommends getting a skin evaluation by a doctor at least once a year. If you’ve had skin cancer before, or are considered to be at high risk for getting it, talk with your doctor about how often you should get checked out.
How to examine your skin
Aside from skin checks with your doctor, it’s also a good idea to check your skin yourself at least every few months.
Look for any new oddly shaped or colored moles or lumps on your skin using the ABCDE guidelines. You also should carefully track the current moles that you already have on your skin and take note of any changes. If anything on your skin looks suspicious, make an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist.
Compare life insurance providers
Making sure your loved ones are taken care of no matter what health crisis you face can eliminate some pressure in otherwise stressful situations. Compare life insurance providers in the table below to find the one best suited to your situation.
If you’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer or if you have a family history of skin cancer, it won’t automatically disqualify you from getting a life insurance policy. Learn more about life insurance and compare providers to find one that fits your needs, and talk with your preferred insurer to learn more about how your medical history will affect your insurance premiums.
Frequently asked questions
Usually no, but it depends on your insurer and the type of cancer you had. If you had a local non-melanoma cancer, you may be able to get insurance right away. But some insurers will require you to be in remission for a certain amount of time, like 6 months to a year, before you’ll qualify for insurance — especially if you had melanoma or metastatic cancer.
Usually no, but it depends on your policy and cancer. Life insurance policies often pay out upon diagnosis of a terminal illness but the survival rates for skin cancer are high, so most people won’t receive a benefit.
However, if you have critical illness insurance, you may receive a lump sum payment to help with the costs.
No, your insurer can’t raise your rates on an active policy if your health changes. But if you take out a new policy, they can charge you higher rates.
Dawn Daniels is a publisher with Finder, based out of Oregon. Her background includes editing more than 40 published books, including Financial Fitness: 21 Easy Exercises to Get Your Personal Finances in Shape Fast by Dr. Vi Scott. In her spare time, Dawn enjoys hiking ridiculous distances and collapsing in exhaustion.
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