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Life insurance with breast cancer

You can qualify for coverage as a survivor — but you may need to be in remission.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer is at an impressive 88%. Cutting-edge treatment means more people than ever can live long lives in remission. And while the underwriting process can be complicated, approval for life insurance with a pre-existing condition like breast cancer is possible.

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Apply online for life insurance and get coverage up to $5,000,000.
  • Coverage amount: $100,000 - $5,000,000
  • Age range: 18 - 75
  • Medical exam required: Typically no
  • Available in: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island
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Can I get life insurance if I’m diagnosed with breast cancer?

Yes, but it depends on where you are in your recovery process. After a breast cancer diagnosis, the insurer may choose from one of 4 options when choosing whether or not to extend coverage:

  1. Offer coverage as normal. If your diagnosis doesn’t affect your long-term risk, you may be eligible for typical coverage. You may be required to provide medical records proving you’re in remission.
  2. 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.
  3. Increase your premiums. Your insurer may offer full coverage but at higher premiums than somebody who’s never experienced a health issue might pay.
  4. Deny coverage. You may find insurers who aren’t willing to offer coverage if you’re not in remission or have experienced multiple recurrences.

Getting life insurance with a pre-exisiting condition

What options do I have if I’m denied coverage?

Start by talking with the insurer to learn more about the reasons why it denied your coverage. It may specify a waiting period before you qualify for remission status. Your chances of insurance approval at rates nearer to the general population’s increase the longer you’re considered in remission.

Keep in mind that if one company declines you, it doesn’t mean that its competitors will. Shop around to compare how different life insurers underwrite those who have or have had breast cancer, including eligibility requirements postdiagnosis, during treatment and in remission.

How common is breast cancer in Canada?

The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that 25% of all women diagnosed with cancer will be diagnosed with breast cancer – it’s the most common type of cancer among women in Canada.

Compare life insurance providers

Name Product Types of Insurance Coverage Range Issue Ages Medical Exam Required Province Availability
PolicyMe Life Insurance
Term Life
$100,000 - $5,000,000
18 - 75 years old
No
Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island
Get fast and affordable term life insurance without the need for a medical exam with PolicyMe.
TermLite Term Life Insurance
Term Life
$10,000 - $1,000,000
18 - 80 years old
No
All of Canada
Get fast and easy-to-understand term life insurance with no medical exam and no paperwork required.
RBC Life Insurance
Term Life
$50,000 - $25,000,000
18 - 75 years old
No
Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba
Select from two unique RBC term life insurance plans to get flexible and affordable coverage that suits your lifestyle and budget. Get a free quote through PolicyAdvisor.
Manulife Life Insurance
Term Life
$100,000 - $1,000,000
18 - 70 years old
No
Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba
Manulife's CoverMe Term life insurance is simple and straightforward coverage that suits your lifestyle and budget. Get a free quote through PolicyAdvisor.
Empire Life Insurance
Term Life
$50,000 - $10,000,000
18 - 75 years old
No
Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba
Empire Life offers affordable, flexible term life insurance coverage and can provide lifetime coverage if needed. Get a free quote through PolicyAdvisor.
BMO Life Insurance
Term Life
$100,000 - $5,000,000
18 - 75 years old
No
Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba
BMO Term life insurance provides you with coverage for 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years. Get a free quote through PolicyAdvisor.
Desjardins Life Insurance
Term Life
$50,000 - $10,000,000
18 - 75 years old
No
Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba
Desjardins offers a number of different term life insurance options to cover fixed-term needs including lifestyle protection and mortgage coverage. Get a free quote through PolicyAdvisor.
Wawanesa Life Insurance
Term Life
$50,000 - $10,000,000
18 - 75 years old
No
Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba
Wawanesa offers simple and straightforward term life insurance coverage. Choose from single and joint coverage options. Get a free quote through PolicyAdvisor.
Canada Life Insurance
Term Life
$100,000 - $10,000,000
18 - 75 years old
No
Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba
Choose from 4 different term life insurance options from Canada Life. Get a free quote through PolicyAdvisor.
Canada Protection Plan Life Insurance
Term Life
$50,000 - $1,000,000
18 - 70 years old
No
Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba
Canada Protection Plan's Preferred Term life insurance is suitable for those in good health. Get a free quote through PolicyAdvisor.
Assumption Life Insurance
Term Life
$50,000 - $4,000,000
18 - 75 years old
No
Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba
Choose from five different term life insurance plans with Assumption Life. Get a free quote through PolicyAdvisor.
Sun Life Go Simplified Term Life Insurance
Term Life
$50,000 - $100,000
18 - 69 years old
No
All of Canada
Sun Life Go Simplified Term Life Insurance covers you for 10 years, during which time your premiums are guaranteed not to rise. Apply for up to $100,000 in coverage.
Sun Life Go Term Life Insurance
Term Life
$100,000 - $1,000,000
18 - 69 years old
No
All of Canada
Sun Life Go Term Life Insurance is a standard term life insurance option that guarantees your premiums in the first 10 or 20 years of your policy.
Sun Life Go Guaranteed Life Insurance
Whole Life
$5,000 - $25,000
30 - 74 years old
No
All of Canada
Permanent life insurance coverage that guarantees fixed premiums until 95 years old (and no premiums thereafter).
 Life Insurance Through PolicyAdvisor.com
Whole Life, Term Life, Universal, No Medical
$25,000 - $5,000,000
18 - 75 years old
No
Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario
PolicyAdvisor is a digital life insurance brokerage that has partnerships with 20 insurers in Canada.
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What type of information will I need to provide about my breast cancer?

Life insurers consider your odds of recurrence and other risks as part of their general underwriting. When applying for a policy, you may face questions like:

  • When were you diagnosed? The impacts and outcome may be less predictable with more recent diagnoses.
  • What type of breast cancer did you have? Underwriting relies on statistical likelihoods, and your insurer will likely want to know your ER, PR or HER2 status at diagnosis to determine risk.
  • What is the stage and grade of your diagnosis? Your insurer may also want to know the specifics of your tumor and lymph node involvement, potentially requiring medical documentation.
  • How was your cancer treated? Mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and related treatments can affect your overall future health. Your insurer may contact your oncologist, doctors or treatment specialists for details.
  • Are you taking medication or undergoing tests? Medication and future tests are an important part of managing risk.

How to buy life insurance for sick people

Other details you may need to disclose

When applying for a life insurance policy, you generally are obligated to answer further questions that can help your insurer assess their risk in offering you coverage.

Prepare to answer such questions as:

  • Do you have a family history of cancer?
  • Are you currently taking any medications?
  • Have you ever been admitted to a hospital for any reason?
  • Are you experiencing symptoms for which you haven’t yet seen a doctor?
  • Have you suffered any recent injuries or illnesses?
  • Have you put on significant weight in the past 12 months?
  • Have you experienced other significant changes to your health in the past 12 months?

Why do I need to disclose so much information?

Life insurance underwriting is the process of determining risk. When assessing you as a potential customer, insurers look at your medical history, lifestyle, habits and even your occupation to weigh the likelihood of paying out your policy.

Failing to report required information accurately on your life insurance application or to a representative can result in a denial of your claim when it’s needed most — even if you’ve faithfully paid your premiums.

But no matter where you are in your recovery, confronting invasive questions about your cancer can stir up fear, worry and feelings you might’ve thought behind you. Consider leaning on your loved ones if you need support when answering health-related questions and confirming the details your insurer is asking for. And remember: You are not your diagnosis.

Am I automatically covered if my life insurance is provided by an employer?

It depends on your workplace’s group policy. In most cases, life insurance policies provided by an employer don’t require individual underwriting. This means your cancer diagnosis shouldn’t affect your premiums or ability to get coverage.

Individual life insurance policies sponsored by your employer may require medical underwriting. Ask your employer about how your health may affect your life insurance benefit.

Bottom line

Many people in remission from breast cancer can qualify for life insurance with select insurers. Prepare to face more scrutiny than the average customer, and reach out to friends and family for emotional support throughout the process, if you need it.

Learn more about how pre-existing conditions figure into underwriting and compare companies in our guide to life insurance.

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