Although the word "cancer" will flag any life insurance underwriter, its ultimate effect on an applicant's rate class can vary from negligible to substantial.
"Cancer is obviously not one illness; there are hundreds of cancers and many, many cancer histories can be favorably underwritten," says Goldstein. "Even for the same kind of cancer, there are so many different stages of the same kind of cancer. There are some people who might have a more advanced stage, some people who have a very early stage, and then treatments vary."
Bloom says New York Life might take six months to a year to monitor some applicants before writing a policy. "Cancer conditions may require a longer period of time depending on the location of the cancer, the staging and type of treatment involved," he says.
Just as each cancer is individual, every insurance company will underwrite it differently.
"We do underwrite cancers," Goldstein says. "Within the industry, there are going to be some cancers that are going to be preferred, some that are uninsurable and some that will fall in between."