How Does Life Insurance for Cancer Survivors Work?

If you or someone you love has battled cancer, you may be wondering if you can still take out life insurance. The good news is that cancer survivors may still qualify for life insurance policies, but you may have to pay a higher cost. If you’re looking to purchase a policy, here’s what you need to know about how life insurance works and how to choose the best life insurance for cancer survivors.

Does Life Insurance Cover Cancer?

If you purchased a term or whole life insurance policy prior to having cancer, those plans would likely pay out in the event of cancer-related death. But there are different requirements if you’re looking to purchase a policy following a cancer diagnosis or treatment. And after undergoing treatment, it may be more important for cancer survivors to get a policy to provide peace of mind that their family would be cared for in their absence.

What Determines Life Insurance Eligibility for Cancer Survivors?

Here are some things life insurance companies may consider when deciding whether to issue a life insurance policy to a cancer survivor: 

  • Cancer status: If you’re currently in remission and have been for several years, you may have an easier time securing a policy than someone actively undergoing cancer treatment.
  • Type of cancer: Certain types of cancer, like leukemia, colon, and pancreatic cancer, may not be insurable due to the high prevalence of recurrence and death rates. But other kinds of cancer like melanoma, breast, or prostate cancer may put you in a moderate risk category that’s still insurable. Before you apply for a policy, be sure to have medical records (or the ability to provide them upon request) that identify your specific type of cancer and the progression of the disease.
  • Family history: Insurers may ask questions related to family history of cancer as it’s also used to assess risk. That means you’ll need information about relatives diagnosed with cancer, including the type of cancer, how you’re related, and their age upon diagnosis. Cancer diagnoses later in life typically mean less risk for insurers and, therefore, a lower rate for you.

Types of Life Insurance Plans for Cancer Survivors to Consider

For cancer survivors, common types of life insurance like term and whole life policies may be unavailable. But other options exist, like:

  • Guaranteed issue insurance: A guaranteed issue life insurance policy is typically used to help with burial expenses or leaving a small legacy. Since these policies are guaranteed and companies may not ask questions about medical status, they can be a good option for cancer survivors who haven’t been in remission long. Just keep in mind that this policy can be expensive and may come with a graded death benefit that pays out less during the years immediately following purchase.
  • Group life coverage: An employer-sponsored group life policy is typically guaranteed to a certain level, regardless of health status. And that means you may qualify even after cancer treatment. Plus, if you leave the organization, you may have the option to convert the policy to a whole life plan.

The Bottom Line

You may still be able to get life insurance as a cancer survivor. But be prepared for a more scrutinous underwriting process and higher rates. Before you begin searching for the right policy, be sure to pull together your medical documentation, as life insurance companies will likely have numerous questions about your cancer diagnosis and treatment. But with thorough research and comparing reputable insurance companies, you’ll find the right policy to meet your coverage needs. 

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