Life insurance for cancer patients and survivors

Whether you can get insurance will depend on your diagnosis and your current health.

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Whether you’re battling cancer now or you’re a survivor, you could still be able to buy life insurance. Insurance providers will assess your medical history before deciding on your eligibility and what to charge you in premiums.

How to get life insurance after having cancer

In many cases, cancer survivors are able to take out a life insurance policy. However, life insurance providers are unlikely to offer a policy for at least two or three years after you’ve recovered.

The first policy you get will probably be pretty expensive too, as insurers will see you as a high-risk customer – although prices should get better with time.

In very rare cases, you can get life insurance that excludes cancer-related claims, but these are hard to come by. Plus, it might not give you a whole lot of peace of mind if there’s a high chance your cancer might return.

What factors do insurers assess when I apply for life insurance with cancer?

Insurers will treat each person who applies differently and will review your case on an individual basis. When trying to work out how much of a risk you are now, and in the future, they will look at various factors, such as the following:

  1. The type of cancer
  2. The grade and stage of the cancer
  3. What sort of treatment you had
  4. How long you’ve been in remission

How to get life insurance with cancer

If you’re undergoing treatment for cancer, finding life insurance is far more difficult and will certainly be more expensive – however, it could still be possible.

Depending on your diagnosis, you may be able to sign up to medically underwritten insurance policies, whether they are term life or whole of life plans. However, you could well be rejected.

If you do get rejected, you could opt for an over-50s plan, which is a type of whole of life insurance that you can get without answering any medical questions. However, there are a few key features to watch out for:

  • Time limits. These policies will typically not payout if you die from natural causes within a year or two of starting, but will probably refund the money you’ve paid in.
  • Payout. While your monthly payments will be an affordable amount, it means the payout won’t be huge.
  • No long-term value. You have to pay every month until you die or the cover will end, and if you live for many years, the payout may be less than what you’ve put in.

What questions might I be asked?

Unless you’re applying for an over-50s policy, insurance companies will ask you a lot of questions about your cancer and your medical history, and they could ask you to undergo a medical exam. As these application processes can be upsetting and emotional, you might want to turn to a loved one for support and be ready to answer the following questions:

  • Do you have a family history of cancer? What age did it happen?
  • Has anyone in your family died from cancer? If so, at what age?
  • What type of cancer do you or did you have?
  • Have you been advised that the cancer is treatable and what’s the percent chance of success?
  • What treatments did you receive while you had cancer?
  • Are you currently in remission? If so, how long have you been in remission?
  • Are you still taking medication or receiving tests?
  • What is the contact information of your doctor?

Can I get life insurance if I have a family history of cancer?

Yes, however your family’s medical history could affect the cost of your premiums. If a close relative such as a parent or sibling died from cancer at a relatively young age, an insurer may see you as being a higher risk. Distant family members and a cancer diagnosis later in life shouldn’t have much of an effect on your application.

Can I take out critical illness insurance for cancer?

When taking out a more standard life insurance policy, you can often get critical illness cover as an add-on. This pays out a tax-free lump sum if you suffer from a specified illness. It can help pay medical bills, but you can theoretically use the money on living expenses or even going on a holiday.

If you are in remission, you may be rejected, although it’s worth getting in touch with insurance providers to see if it’s possible. Make sure they’ll cover your previous cancer if you relapse too.

The following cancer types are commonly covered under critical insurance policies:

  • Sarcoma
  • Skin cancer
  • Leukaemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Merkel cell cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Bowel cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Invasive cancer
  • Malignant bone marrow disorder

It’s important to keep in mind that insurers determine application approval and coverage based off of each individual situation.

Bottom line

Each insurance company will have its own decision processes for covering cancer patients and survivors, so don’t be disheartened by any rejections. Informally ask insurers over the phone or by email whether they are likely to cover your type of cancer because if you’re formally rejected by an insurer, other providers can find out about this – which could sway their decision. When you’ve done your homework, apply with several companies, and hopefully you should get some affordable offers that give you the protection you need.

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