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Can you get life insurance if you have cancer?

Cancer patients are already struggling with a terrible illness, painful treatments, and uncertainty about the future. Unfortunately, providing for their loved ones with life insurance may also be problematic. Many people assume that if they have cancer, they cannot obtain a life insurance policy, or that a policy will cost more than they can possibly afford. However, in many cases patients with cancer can get life insurance, although there may be certain terms and conditions which will apply and may reduce the total amount of insurance.

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A cancer patient applying for life insurance will be required to provide quite a bit of medical information to the insurance company for review. Doctor’s records, hospital records, current medications, and a host of other information may be required. The company may also request permission to talk to the doctor about the patient and the prognosis for recovery.

While this may seem invasive, it allows the insurance company to consider the feasibility of insuring the patient by making an informed decision as to the likelihood the patient will survive the cancer. If a patient has little chance of survival, the company will probably reject the application. On the other hand, if the prognosis is good, or even fair, the company may be able to work with the applicant to find the right policy for the circumstances.

The company will also want to know if the patient has begun treatment; this usually triggers a rejection until the treatment is completed, so it is a good idea to apply for life insurance immediately, rather than wait until treatment is underway. Patients who have recently recovered from cancer and undergone treatment may also be denied until they have been cancer-free for a certain period of time.

If the patient currently has cancer, the insurance company will want to consider certain factors which affect the insurability of the patient. Each company has its own standards for these factors, and what triggers a rejection with one company may not with a different company.

What Life Insurance Companies consider in an Application for People with Cancer

The first consideration is what type of cancer the patient has. “Treatable” cancers, or those with high cure rates and many options for treatment, will naturally make the insurance process easier than those considered more deadly and with fewer treatment options. Generally, testicular cancer, breast cancer, thyroid cancer, and prostate cancer are considered highly “treatable.” Cancers of the colon, leukemia, and lung cancer are considered far less treatable and may reduce the chances of obtaining coverage.

Another consideration, exclusive of the cancer type, is where the cancer is located and how far it has spread. Cancers which are localized, easily removed, and have not metastasized, or spread to other parts of the body, will be far less likely to trigger a rejection from the insurer than advanced or spreading cancers.

A final consideration is the rate of cure of the particular type and location of the patient’s cancer. Generally, cancers which have a highly curable prognosis are considered far less damaging to a patient’s life insurance application.

Will you get Life Insurance with Cancer?

Once the insurance company has made a determination as to the type of cancer, its location, and the probability of a cure, it will issue a policy or deny the coverage, based on its findings. If the company is willing to insure the patient, it may demand higher premiums than usual.

If a patient is denied straight insurance coverage, there are other options for insurance. Many companies offer a “graded policy” to those who have cancer. A graded policy essentially increases in value the longer a patient survives. There is a period in which the death benefit will be severely reduced, generally consisting only of premium payments and a small portion of the face value of the policy. However, after the graded period expires, full benefits can be paid.

When seeking life insurance with any serious pre-existing condition, it pays to have the advice of a trusted agent. While web sites and other general information portals offer “quotes,” these are often based on only a few factors and can be wildly off-base. On the other hand, a good insurance agent understands that underwriters (those who issue life insurance policies) actually look at dozens of factors when deciding to issue a policy. An agent can guide you through the application process and help you choose the right company to write your policy.

Sometimes, people are tempted to hide medical information about pre-existing conditions due to their desire to protect their loved ones. However, this is not only a serious mistake, but it can cause problems for your beneficiaries, such as lawsuits. It is always better to work with a reputable agent to find the right policy for your condition, and research the options available to you to provide for your loved ones.

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