Life insurance for people with cancer

It's possible to get life insurance if you have cancer, but options and rates vary depending on your diagnosis and treatment.

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Your health history plays has a large impact on your life insurance rates. If you are currently in cancer treatment, one of your parents or siblings has had a cancer diagnosis, or are in remission, your premiums or even your ability to purchase an insurance policy can be affected.

Depending on your diagnosis, your current health status, and the details of your family history, there are still life insurance options available to you. The right coverage will depend heavily on your circumstances, so it's best to work with a licensed agent or broker to choose the right policy.

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Can you get life insurance if you have cancer?

Many insurers won't consider you for a policy until you're a few years out from your diagnosis or last treatment because your health is too unpredictable while in treatment. Whether you can get life insurance as a cancer patient varies based on a few factors:

  • Date of diagnosis

  • Stage/severity of diagnosis

  • Treatment history

  • Type of cancer

The more complex your cancer history, the harder it will be to qualify for coverage. More severe diagnoses, more recent diagnoses, and more rounds of treatment will likely raise your rates.

There are often exceptions for non-melanoma skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. A few insurers may consider covering people with Stage 1 or Stage 0 breast cancer.

Life insurance policies for people with cancer

If you're currently in treatment or if you had a cancer diagnosis within the last two to four years, you may not qualify for term or whole life insurance. People over age 50 can qualify for guaranteed issue life insurance, which offers near-certain approval but is costly.

If you're under age 50, you may be able to get some coverage through a workplace group life insurance policy. These offer limited coverage but rarely have medical qualifications.

Life insurance for people with a family history of cancer

Since some types of cancer can be passed down from parent to child, insurers will ask if there is a family history of cancer among your biological relatives. You'll be asked:

  • Who in your family had cancer

  • What their diagnosis was

  • When they were diagnosed

  • Whether they went into remission

Every insurance company treats a family history of cancer differently; some won't ask about it at all. Having a family member with cancer may affect your rates with one provider, but you could be able to get the best available rates with another.

For example, different insurers will consider you more or less risky depending on whether:

  • Your family member survived their cancer diagnosis before age 60 or 65

  • Your parents have had cancer, but not whether your siblings have

  • You are the same sex as a family member who had a sex-specific cancer, like testicular cancer

Life insurance for former cancer patients

People who have been declared in remission and are a certain number of years past their final treatment will face fewer issues finding coverage. During the underwriting process, the life insurance company will review three main parts of your cancer history:

  • Date you were diagnosed with cancer

  • Date of your last cancer treatment

  • Type and severity of cancer you had

Your entire health history is taken into account during underwriting in addition to how much time has elapsed since your diagnosis and treatment. Certain cancer diagnoses can lead to better rates than others based on the assumed mortality risk of those cancers.

→ Learn more about life insurance for cancer survivors

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Being a current cancer patient, having a family history of cancer, or being in cancer remission raises flags for insurers, but not every cancer diagnosis will have the same effect on your life insurance. Compare coverage with the help of an independent broker to identify which policy is the best fit for your entire personal profile.

Frequently asked questions

Does life insurance cover cancer?

If you have an active life insurance policy and die from cancer, your policy will pay out.

Can you get life insurance with a cancer diagnosis?

Depending on your diagnosis, its severity, and your treatment history, you can qualify for some types of life insurance coverage, but your rates may be high.

What are the life insurance options for cancer patients?

Applicants undergoing cancer treatment may not qualify for term or whole life insurance. You may qualify for guaranteed issue or group life insurance.

Does COVID-19 affect the life insurance application process or eligibility?

Due to the ever-changing nature of the coronavirus pandemic, some insurers are modifying processes and/or imposing coverage restrictions on certain health conditions or age groups. Speak to a Policygenius agent for free to find out how to get the most affordable policy.