Life insurance for cancer survivors

You can still get life insurance after you’ve had cancer. Your eligibility, cost, and coverage options depend on what type of cancer you had and how long you’ve been in remission.

Disclaimer: The content supplied here may be impacted by COVID-19. Contact a Policygenius agent for free to find out more.

Cancer survivors will likely see more expensive life insurance rates, but in most cases, beating cancer won’t disqualify you from getting covered by a traditional policy. During the life insurance application, an insurer will review your health and among other factors to determine your eligibility and the cost of your premiums

Those currently being treated for cancer will have trouble getting insured. But if you’re in remission or were previously diagnosed with cancer, the best way to get insured is by comparing rates from different life insurance companies. Each insurer has its own health guidelines and knock-out criteria, which we will explore below. 

Key Takeaways

  • Eligibility for life insurance depends on the type of cancer you had and the time you spent in remission

  • Current cancer patients will not be able to get traditional life insurance

  • Life insurance pays out to your beneficiaries if you die from cancer

Life insurance for cancer survivors

Cancer survivors who have been in remission for a specific amount of time, which is set by each insurance company, may be eligible for a traditional term life insurance or whole life insurance policy with most Policygenius partner insurers. Each insurance company has its own eligibility guidelines, and getting coverage depends on the type of cancer, stage at the time of diagnosis, treatment, recurrences, and complications. 

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During the underwriting process, the life insurance company’s underwriter will review your application in order to assign you an insurance classification, which is a rating that determines how much you’ll pay for your insurance policy. Some of the information they’ll look at includes:

  • Health questionnaire

  • Medical history and pre-existing medical conditions

  • Physician statements

  • Driving record (MVR)

  • Medical exam results

Each provider has its own classification terms, but generally, Preferred Plus will give you the lowest premiums, with Preferred, Standard Plus, Standard, and Substandard ratings (also called table ratings) offering progressively higher premiums. 

life insurance classifications range from Preferred Plus to Substandard and help insurance companies rate your health and price your policy

For cancer survivors, your ability to qualify for a traditional term or whole policy and your premiums for that policy will be based on three factors:

  1. Type of cancer (e.g., breast cancer, skin cancer, thyroid cancer, etc.)

  2. Date of diagnosis

  3. Date of your last treatment

In addition to how much time has elapsed since your diagnosis and treatment, your entire health history is taken into account during underwriting.

The best insurer for each type of cancer varies. Certain cancer diagnoses can lead to a more preferable rating than others based on how risky the insurer rates different cancers. Skin cancer, for example, is often less impactful on health ratings than lung or pancreatic cancer.

Life insurance ratings for former cancer patients

The best possible health rating you can get varies by insurer, but certain types of cancer have less impact on health classifications across the board, according to Policygenius partner data from 2021. Your final rating, however, will also account for other factors, like your detailed medical exam, APS statement, and even credit report.

Cancers that could result in Preferred Plus ratings:

  • Cervical cancer

  • Non-melanoma skin cancer

  • Papillary thyroid cancer

  • Stage 1 seminoma testicular cancer

Cancers that could result in Preferred ratings:

  • Prostate cancer

  • Testicular cancer

  • Thyroid cancer

  • Uterine cancer

Cancers that could result in Standard ratings:

  • Benign tumors

  • Bladder cancer

  • Breast cancer

  • Colon cancer

  • Leukemia

  • Lung cancer

  • Renal cancer

Some types of cancer may lead to an automatic application decline, regardless of how long you’ve been in remission. Working with an independent agent or broker like Policygenius is particularly helpful for cancer survivors because they can compare criteria across insurers and work directly with insurance companies to get you the best rates. 

Does life insurance cover cancer?

Life insurance covers most types of death, including cancer. With few exceptions, if your policy is active at the time of death, your beneficiaries will receive a death benefit payout. 

If you die of cancer within the first two years of owning your policy, known as the contestability period, the insurance company may review your application to see if you failed to disclose a cancer diagnosis at the time you applied. Withholding information about your health, hobbies, or anything else, can be classified as life insurance fraud, and may lead to a denied claim.

Reconsideration and reapplication for cancer survivors

A former cancer diagnosis can increase how much you pay for life insurance, but some insurance companies offer better rates for people who have been in remission for at least 12 months for early-stage cancers such as prostate cancer, or at least two years for early-stage cancers such as breast cancer or colon cancer. As your health improves, you may also be eligible for lower rates. Reconsideration and reapplication are two options to consider if it’s been several years since you purchased your life insurance policy and have been in remission for one or more years.

Reconsideration with your insurer reduces your current policy’s premiums to reflect your better health status. Reapplication means you apply for a completely new life insurance policy to get a better life insurance rate. 

Because life insurance rates are also dependent on your age (rates generally increase 4.5-9% every year), you may still see higher life insurance rates if you reapply a few years down the line. 

Talk to a Policygenius agent for free to weigh your options if you have a former cancer diagnosis so you can get insured at the best rate. 

Life insurance for cancer survivors FAQs

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.

Can I get life insurance if I had cancer?

Depending on the type of cancer, how long you’ve been in remission, and the specific insurance company, you may be able to get traditional life insurance coverage if you’ve had cancer. Alternative life insurance policies, such as guaranteed-issue, are usually available but cost more. 

Does life insurance pay out if you have cancer?

Yes. Cancer is covered under most life insurance policies.

Does life insurance test for cancer?

You must disclose a cancer diagnosis and previous treatments when you apply for life insurance. Cancer survivors will likely need to take a medical exam and will be asked for a statement from their doctor to confirm their medical history.