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Key takeaways

  • Group life insurance, burial insurance and guaranteed life insurance may be the easiest life insurance policies to get following a cancer diagnosis.
  • The type of cancer you have will likely influence your ability to get insurance. Insurance underwriters know certain types of cancer have a higher survival rate. If you have a higher chance of surviving, you have a better chance of being approved for life insurance.
  • Make sure to answer truthfully on your medical evaluation forms. If you don’t, your insurance provider could deny you, increase your rates or even accuse you of fraud.

When you’re facing a serious diagnosis like cancer, you may start to ask big questions about your future and your family’s financial stability. One of these questions may be about life insurance. Can you get life insurance with cancer? What kind of life insurance options are available for cancer patients and survivors? This guide will help you navigate these complex inquiries, providing you with the necessary information to make informed decisions.

Can you get life insurance after a cancer diagnosis?

You will likely be able to qualify for burial, guaranteed and group life insurance with a cancer diagnosis, whereas more traditional types of coverage may be off the table. However, approval for any policy depends on the specifics of your cancer and other aspects of your health that demonstrate how much of a risk you are to an insurer. Even with a cancer diagnosis, better overall health will likely lead to a higher probability of getting a policy.

When it comes to life insurance with cancer, the specifics of your diagnosis matter. If you have a form of cancer that’s more easily treatable and has a lower possibility of remission, you’re more likely to be approved than if your cancer is more aggressive or more advanced. Your other health metrics also matter. If you have additional health complications, you may find it even harder to get coverage.

What are the types of life insurance for cancer patients?

Because life insurance eligibility is based on your health, a cancer diagnosis is likely to affect the types of life insurance for which you qualify. You may need to look into a more specialized type of life insurance.

There are several different types of life insurance that may be available for cancer patients. The easiest types to get are those that don’t require a medical analysis during the underwriting process.

Guaranteed issue life insurance

Guaranteed issue life insurance may be the easiest type of life insurance for terminal cancer patients to get because it does not require any health screening or medical exam. As its name suggests, this type of policy is guaranteed to be issued, which means you won’t be denied coverage based on your health. It is a type of whole life insurance policy — which is permanent life insurance — so it builds cash value over time and stays with you as long as you live. However, guaranteed issue coverage tends to be more expensive than other types of insurance, and there is usually a cap on how much of a death benefit you can purchase.

Burial insurance

Burial insurance, often referred to as funeral or final expense insurance, falls under the category of permanent life insurance. This particular type stands out because it typically doesn’t require a medical exam. Its primary purpose is to cover end-of-life expenses, which can be substantial.

The median cost of funerals in the United States is around $7,848. This figure can vary, depending on individual preferences and the specific needs of grieving families. Burial insurance aims to alleviate the financial burden on your loved ones, allowing them to focus on the emotional aspect of mourning rather than the financial stress of funeral arrangements.

It’s important to note that while burial insurance offers ease of access due to the lack of a medical exam requirement, the costs of these policies can be relatively high.

Group life insurance

If you or your spouse are still working, you may be able to access a group life insurance policy through your employer. You may also be eligible for a policy if you are a veteran or a member of an organization that offers this benefit. There is usually no medical exam needed for group life insurance. The benefits may not be very high, but if your employer pays all or part of the premium, it could be worth having.

Does the type of cancer matter to life insurance companies?

Yes. Not all cancers are equal, and some are more severe than others. Underwriters know this, and have access to data that allows them to discern the severity of your type of cancer. When you apply for life insurance, your company will want to know as much as possible about your health issues, including the following cancer-specific details:

  • The type of cancer and its stage
  • When you were diagnosed
  • What your treatment plan is, and how you have responded to it
  • If it has metastasized — that is, if it’s contained in one organ or has spread throughout your body
  • Whether this is your first experience of cancer
  • Your family history of cancer
  • Your medications

Can cancer survivors get life insurance?

Yes. Purchasing life insurance as a cancer survivor can be difficult, but it is easier to accomplish than purchasing life insurance as a current cancer patient. Remember that life insurance is complex, though, and your entire medical history — not just your cancer history — will be taken into account.

The details of your health will determine what kind of life insurance you qualify for as well as how much coverage you can buy. Generally, the longer you have been in remission, the fewer restrictions you’ll face. However, if you have other health concerns, such as high blood pressure, your eligibility (or premium) could be influenced.

Life insurance ratings for cancer survivors

If you do qualify for a life insurance policy, your provider will use a rating system to determine the premium you will pay. The rating tiers are:

  • Super preferred (Preferred plus)
  • Preferred
  • Standard Plus
  • Standard (Regular)
  • Substandard (also called “table ratings”)

If you are diagnosed with a form of cancer that has a lower death rate, you may be accepted for life insurance, but placed in a lower tier. For instance, if you are diagnosed with melanoma, which has a 91 percent survival rate, you may be accepted for a policy, but given a lower rating. Substandard customers generally pay higher premiums, while being rated standard plus, preferred or super preferred generally results in lower premiums.

Does a family history of cancer have an impact?

If there is a history of cancer in your family, it may impact your insurance rates, but there are several factors to consider. The type of cancer is important, since some cancers exhibit stronger hereditary patterns. The nature of your relationship with diagnosed relatives (immediate vs. distant family members) and the ages of the relatives when they were diagnosed also matter.

Frequently asked questions

    • Identifying the best life insurance company depends on individual needs and circumstances, but some companies consistently get high marks. State Farm, for example, is renowned for its customer satisfaction. Penn Mutual is known for its financial robustness and long history of satisfied customers. Guardian is among a select group of companies that received an A++ from AM Best, indicating superior financial health. New York Life, established in 1845, has a consistent record of paying dividends. Northwestern Mutual ticks all the boxes for financial stability.When choosing a life insurance company, it’s important to consider factors, such as financial stability, customer service, policy options and premium costs. You may also want to consider the company’s reputation and how well it handles claims. It can be helpful to read reviews and ratings from current and past customers to get a sense of their experiences.
    • Getting life insurance while undergoing chemotherapy can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Some types of life insurance, such as guaranteed issue life insurance and burial insurance, do not require a medical exam and may be more accessible. It’s important to note, however, that these policies may come with higher premiums and coverage limits. You may want to discuss your situation with a knowledgeable insurance agent or broker to make sense of things.
    • Life insurance policies typically pay a death benefit, regardless of the cause of death. However, the specifics can depend on the terms of the policy. For instance, some policies might not pay out if the policyholder dies within a certain period after the policy is issued (contestability period). It’s crucial to thoroughly understand the terms of any life insurance policy before purchase.
    • Lying on a life insurance application is a serious matter that can have severe consequences. If the insurance company discovers that you provided false information, it can deny a claim for benefits, cancel the policy or adjust the death benefit. It’s critical to be truthful and accurate when filling out a life insurance application.