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Life Insurance for Cancer Patients

Researcher & Writer
January 03, 2020

In this article, we provide our readers with a resource where they can learn more about how a life insurance company is going to view an application from someone who has  cancer. You can also compare life insurance quotes for both exam and no exam coverage.

We'll also discuss more specific information focusing on the 16 most common forms of cancers.

Finding life insurance for cancer patients can be challenging, but knowing more about what companies consider when approving and applications and setting premiums can help you find the right coverage for you.


If you already have a life insurance policy and need help covering your medical expenses due to cancer, check to see if you have a critical illness, terminal illness, or chronic illness rider. These policy add-ons may allow you to draw on your death benefit (although this will lower the lump sum your beneficiaries receive) early if you have cancer.


 

Factors life insurance companies consider

Life insurance companies look at a wide range of factors. Whether an insurer will issue life insurance to you will depend on your health and the fact that you've been diagnosed with cancer, as well as your habits, age, and family medical history.

When considering your cancer diagnosis, insurance companies will account for:

  • Your age when first diagnosed with cancer
  • The type of cancer
  • The stage of cancer
  • What treatments you received
  • And your last date of treatment
  • How long you've been in remission

From there the insurance companies are going to turn their attention to some more basic information.

  • Your height and weight
  • Your immediate family medical history
  • Other pre-existing medical conditions
  • Current prescription medications

Did you know that insurance companies are also going to be interested in:

  • What you do for a living
  • Your driving record
  • Your hobbies
  • Where you like to travel

As well as a host of other non-health related topics which might have a significant effect on the outcome of your life insurance application.

That’s why we can’t say for certain whether you will be accepted for life insurance, have higher rates, or see limited death benefit options. You can speak with a licensed agent for a quote that caters to your specific needs.

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Cancers Life Insurance Companies See Most Frequently

Breast cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 268,600 women (along with a small number of men) had breast cancer in 2019.1

While early detection can significantly improve one’s chances of beating cancer, there are still too many men and women losing their fight each and every year.

This is why many life insurance companies will be very interested in the specifics of your situation and will certainly want to know:

  • How old were you when you were first diagnosed?
  • What stage did you diagnose your breast cancer at?
  • What treatment(s) did you receive?
  • If you are currently in remission, when was your last date of treatment?
  • When was the last time you had a regular follow up by your primary care physician?

These are just a few of the questions you’ll be asked when applying for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy.

For more information about applying for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy, check out Qualifying for Life Insurance with Breast Cancer.

Skin cancer

Skin Cancer has become more common throughout the years and many people know someone who has been affected by this type of cancer. An estimated 9,500 people discover they have skin cancer every day in the US.2

Most skin cancer cases won’t cause too much alarm for a lot of life insurance companies, and you may still be approved for a large death benefit. But there are some more aggressive forms of skin cancer which could significantly affect your chances at being able to qualify for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy.

For this reason, if you have been diagnosed with skin cancer in the past, regardless of how minor the case may have been, we would highly recommend that you check out our article:  Qualifying for Life Insurance with Skin Cancer before you apply with a life insurance company.

Lung cancer

There were nearly 230,000 new cases of lung and bronchus cancer in the United States in 2019.3

If you have had lung cancer in the past and are not currently using tobacco, theoretically you should be eligible for coverage provided that your cancer did not extend beyond stage 4.

Now will you be able to qualify for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy if you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer and you continue to smoke?  Probably not.

And even if you were able to find a life insurance company that will offer you a traditional coverage as a smoker, the cost of such a policy will probably be very high and the death benefit low.

The good news is that there are some types of life insurance policies that will not ask an applicant if they are currently using tobacco. Known as guaranteed issue life insurance, this coverage could be a good option for those who have been diagnosed with lung cancer in the past and continue to use tobacco.

For more information about what types of life insurance policies you may or may not be able to qualify for, we would recommend that you visit our article:  Qualifying for Life Insurance with Lung Cancer.

Ovarian cancer

While ovarian cancer doesn’t seem to get nearly the same amount of attention as other more common types of cancers, 1.3% of women will receive a positive diagnosis in their lifetime.4 Ovarian cancer is particularly common in women between the ages of 40-70 years or age. which also just happens to be some of the most common years folks begin thinking about purchasing a life insurance policy.

Researchers have also found that the rate of ovarian cancers seem to be on the rise particularly in highly industrialized countries with women of higher socioeconomic status.

The good news is that many women who have early stage ovarian cancer will be eligible to qualify for a traditional term or whole life insurance once their cancer history shows long-term remission.

However, many ovarian cancer cases will go undiagnosed in stages 0 and 1 simply because the patient isn’t likely to experience any symptoms.  As a result, these cases will often be more difficult to treat and will likely be harder to insure.

For more information about qualifying for life insurance after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, we would recommend that you check out our article:  Qualifying for Life Insurance with Ovarian Cancer. 

Cervical cancer

Around 289,696 women in the US have cervical cancer, and an estimated 13,170 new cases appear each year.5

It's important for women to routinely be screened for cervical cancer. Early cases are not likely to present themselves with any kind of symptoms and can only be detected by screening for pre-cancerous cells during a gynecological exam.

The good news is that if your condition is discovered early (stage 0) and you have it surgically removed, you may still be able to qualify for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy at low life insurance rates.

For more information about applying for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy after being diagnosed with cervical cancer, we would recommend that you check out our article:  Qualifying for Life Insurance with Cervical Cancer

Uterine or Endometrial cancer

Because both of these types of cancers will often cause one to experience frequent abnormal vaginal bleeding, those suffering from uterine or endometrial cancer will often times have their condition diagnosed early on.

For more information regarding what the process will look like when applying for life insurance after being diagnosed with endometrial or uterine cancer, we recommend that you read our article:  Life Insurance with Endometrial or Uterine Cancer.

Liver cancer

Helping folks qualify for a  life insurance policy after they have been diagnosed with liver cancer can be really tough.  Liver health, in general, can be a big factor in qualifying for life insurance.

However, those who are able to diagnose and receive treatment for their liver cancer prior to it spreading beyond the actual liver itself will generally still be able to qualify for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy assuming that they are otherwise in good shape.

Eligible candidates will usually be required to wait a minimum of 2 to 3 years before being eligible for insurance coverage. However, each individual will vary on a case by case basis.

Kidney cancer

Kidney cancer can have different names, such as renal cancer or renal cell carcinoma. It can even be described by which cells within the kidney actually become cancerous.

When it comes to qualifying for life insurance, the type of cells that have been affected won’t necessarily play as big of a role as what stage your cancer has progressed to.

Assuming that your kidney cancer is diagnosed early enough, your doctors should have several different methods to treat your cancer and hopefully be able to cure you.

You may also find that if you diagnosed your cancer early, many insurance companies will be willing to consider you eligible for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy, assuming that you would otherwise be eligible.

For more information on what life insurance options may or may not be available to you after being diagnosed with kidney cancer, we would recommend that you visit our article:  Life Insurance with Kidney Cancer.

Pancreatic cancer

Most life insurance companies are not going to want to offer a traditional term or whole life insurance policy to someone that has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

It is possible that someone with Stage 0 or Stage 1 to be able to qualify for coverage. However, it isn’t as likely as some of the others we have mentioned here and most life insurance companies will still refuse to approve an applicant who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Even if an insurance company is willing to consider an applicant for coverage, that applicant will usually need to be cancer free for a minimum of 5 years and be in exceptional health.

For more information about what the process of applying for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy will look like after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, we would recommend that you visit our article:  Life Insurance with Pancreatic Cancer.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is one of those types of cancers that can be tricky for a life insurance agent for a couple of reasons.  First, it’s important to understand that while having an enlarged prostate and an elevated PSA are both signs of possibly having prostate cancer. This will play a major role in the outcome of your life insurance application, these are also symptoms of suffering from benign prostatic hyperplasia which will not play a major role in the outcome of your life insurance application.

Folks who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and have had it treated maybe be able to qualify for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy.

Some folks may even qualify for a Preferred rating if they meet very specific criteria!

While others may not be able to qualify for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy at all.  For more information about how life insurance underwriters will determine who will and who won’t qualify, we would recommend that you check out our article:  Qualifying for Life Insurance after Prostate Cancer.

Thyroid cancer

While thyroid cancer isn’t necessarily ranked in the top 10 most common types of cancer in the United States, over 52,000 new cases were diagnosed in 2019  so it’s also not a super rare condition either.6

Because of the location of the thyroid gland, and the nature of thyroid cancer, many individuals will often notice a lump on either side of their next neck early on in their disease which will often lead them to see a doctor and thus be diagnosed relatively early.

For more information about what process of applying for life insurance will look like after you’ve been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, we would recommend that you visit our article:  Qualifying for Life Insurance After Being Diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer.

Bladder cancer

Many people who have been diagnosed with bladder cancer in the past may not be able to qualify for traditional life insurance coverage for a really long time, or ever, depending on the stage of cancer that they have recovered from.

This is because most people aren’t necessarily going to be routinely checked to see if they may have bladder cancer and it’s not until people begin to experience symptoms such as having blood in their urine that they then suddenly become aware that there may be a problem.

It’s during this unknown and undiagnosed period of time that an individual’s bladder cancer can progress from a less serious stage 0/1 bladder cancer to a more aggressive and life-threatening stage 2-4.

Once a person is in these later stages, this diagnosis is often going to make it much more difficult if not impossible to qualify.

However, we would recommend that you read our article:  Life Insurance with Bladder Cancer, so that you can get a better idea of how the process of applying for life insurance works for those who have bladder cancer.

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Of the two, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is significantly more common that Hodgkin’s lymphoma and has a very high 5-year survival rate that is reflected in the insurance industry’s general “positive” outlook about taking on these cancer survivors.

For those who have been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the 5-year survival rate isn't as high. Still, you  may be eligible to qualify for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy after a period of time has passed since you were declared in remission.

Leukemia

Qualifying for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy after you’ve been diagnosed with leukemia can be tough. There are several different types of leukemia which can change to potential outcome of one’s life insurance application. However, the long-term prognosis of being diagnosed with leukemia is now pretty high and seems to be increasing  every year.

Because of increased survival rates, many life insurance companies will begin to consider applicants after they’ve been in remission for a minimum of 12 months.

As a general rule of thumb, what you’ll typically find is that the longer you’ve been in remission, the better your chances will be to qualify for coverage and the better your rate will be.

For more information about qualifying for life insurance after being diagnosed with leukemia, visit our article:  Life Insurance with Leukemia.

Colon or Colorectal cancer

Because the dangers of developing colon cancer has become widely publicized, many men and women are now choosing to be tested and screened for this disease early on which is playing a huge role in its early detection and treatment.

As a result, many individuals are diagnosing the condition early on, and beating their cancer at a stage which will allow them to remain an excellent candidate for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy.

Testicular cancer

The five-year survival rate for those suffering from testicular cancer is over 95%.7 Most life insurance companies will be willing to offer a stage 1 testicular cancer survivors a Preferred rate if they can otherwise qualify.

For more information about qualifying for life insurance with testicular cancer please feel free to check out our article:  Life Insurance with Testicular Cancer.

The bottom line

Getting life insurance with cancer can be challenging, but not impossible

Finding life insurance for cancer survivors isn't easy, but in some cases you are able to still get a life insurance policy after a cancer diagnosis. The important thing to note is that not every company will accept it so don't get discouraged if you receive a rejection.

The best way to find the right company for your unique situation is to talk to a licensed life insurance agent. They will be able to talk you through your options and help you decide the right company and policy for you. Also, know that you can compare life insurance quotes to find the best quote for your situation. 

Sources

1 National Cancer Institute, "Cancer Stat Facts: Female Breast Cancer"

2 American Academy of Dermatology, "Skin Cancer"

3 National Cancer Institute, "Cancer Stat Facts: Lung and Bronchus Cancer"

4 National Cancer Institute, "Cancer Stat Facts: Ovarian Cancer"

5 National Cancer Institute, "Cancer Stat Facts: Cervical Cancer"

6 National Cancer Institute, "Cancer Stat Facts: Thyroid Cancer"

7 National Cancer Institute, "Cancer Stat Facts: Testicular Cancer"

Written by
TermLife2Go
We are a team of life insurance experts with the simple mission of helping you find the best coverage for your unique situation. We research, review, and rank life insurance companies to make that process easier.