Can I Get Life Insurance If I Have Cancer?


Cancer sucks. It’s a terrifying diagnosis that, according to the American Cancer Society, over 15 million Americans currently live with and most of us will confront in one way or another. Often, it’s during difficult times like this that we’re finally forced to think about the loved ones possibly left behind.

One of the best way to secure your family’s financial future is with life insurance. However, waiting until a cancer diagnosis can make acquiring a quality life insurance policy incredibly difficult both during and post-treatment.

Is it possible to get life insurance after getting cancer? The short, honest answer is—it’s complicated. Though not impossible, getting approved for life insurance will pose many more challenges than applying for coverage prior to diagnosis.

So, what are these challenges, and how can you put yourself in the best position to get health insurance with cancer, and be there to support your family no matter what.

What Is Life Insurance?

Before diving into the details, what exactly is life insurance? Life insurance is the guarantee that in the event of your passing, your family will still be financially protected. After being quoted and approved by a life insurance company, you will pay a monthly premium. In the event of your death, your loved ones will be awarded a specified amount of tax-free money. The dollar amounts, allocations, and other specifications are often determined by your completed will.

What Are The Challenges of Getting Life Insurance With Cancer?

When being evaluated for life insurance eligibility, companies want the healthiest clients possible. The straight truth is that they want the people they approve to pay into the greater pot for as long as possible. The healthier you are, the higher chance of being accepted and receiving a lower monthly premium. The opposite is true as your health declines.

For example, a 40-year-old, non-smoking mom with a normal BMI and minimal health problems could be quoted for premiums with locked-in prices as low as $5/month. However, a cancer diagnosis would raise her quote exponentially, or even make her entirely ineligible for coverage.

Every cancer diagnosis and every patient is entirely unique. Because of this, there are many factors that can tip the likelihood of coverage into, or out of, your favor.

A massive factor is the diagnosis itself. Most cancers are described using a staging system which goes from Stages I–IV. Stage I is considered the earliest stage and usually easily treated. Stage IV is an advanced stage that has spread throughout the body. The type of cancer is also strongly taken into consideration.

To help make these decisions, the majority of insurance companies use guidelines from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database. Cancer researchers, doctors, and specialists nationwide anonymously submit reports to compile the most up-to-date information about patient demographics, diagnoses, treatments, prognoses, etc. Insurers will then use these details to determine life insurance eligibility.

Can I Coverage Get If I’m Currently in Cancer Treatment?

Generally, if you’re currently undergoing any cancer treatment, receiving term life insurance or whole life insurance will be difficult. However, it may be possible if diagnosed with a highly treatable cancer type at a low stage, such as thyroid or testicular. 

That doesn’t mean you’re completely out-of-luck. Instead, you can apply for guaranteed life insurance, which as the name suggests, equals guaranteed coverage. Also known as graded death benefit plans, no exams or reviews of your medical records are required, and you can often be approved in days.

However, there are substantial drawbacks for guaranteed life insurance vs term or whole life insurance. These drawbacks include higher monthly premiums and lower payouts. In addition, your family usually can’t receive a payout until two years have passed since signing up for coverage. In the event of your death before the two-year mark, your family will receive a refund of your monthly premiums instead.

In addition, many employers offer the benefit of group life insurance. Though the potential payout is typically lower than other life insurance plans, it’s typically a free or very affordable option that is worth looking into.

Can I Get Coverage If I’ve Completed Cancer Treatment?

Congrats! You’ve successfully completed cancer treatments. Now it’s time to look forward to the future, and part of that means finally securing life insurance.

However, completing treatments or even going to into full remission usually doesn’t mean smooth sailing when it comes to getting term or whole life insurance. Depending on your initial diagnosis and current prognosis, there will typically be a waiting period before you can even apply.

The length of this waiting period can vary greatly. For example, a basal cell carcinoma that is caught prior to any spreading may be eligible immediately. A patient diagnosed with pancreatic cancer may never be eligible. Typically though, the waiting period lasts between around 3–5 years.

Then once you’ve successfully passed that waiting period and receive a good bill of health from your doctor, getting quality life insurance is possible! You’ll still want to do as much preparation prior to applying to ensure a higher likelihood of acceptance and better premium rates. To increase your chances of successfully receiving affordable life insurance:

  • Gather and organize ALL of your medical records. From early pathology reports to final treatment records, more truly is better. They’re going to ask anyway, and if they feel like something’s being hidden, they may think you’re a higher risk than you’re letting on.
  • Listen to your doctor. Insurers will want proof that you’re trying as hard as possible to follow your medical plans to stay healthy and cancer-free. Go to every appointment, physical therapy session, follow-up, etc. and provide records of everything.
  • There’s so much more to you than a cancer diagnosis. Insurers will want evidence you’re keeping fit in other ways too. By not smoking, maintaining a proper weight, monitoring your mental health, and more, there are plenty of ways to prove you’re doing all you can to live your best life.

Though there is no guarantee that you’ll be able to receive term or whole life insurance after cancer, following these steps will put you in the best position to protect your family, regardless of what the future may hold.

Are you a cancer survivor who’s ready to see what incredible, affordable plans you may be eligible for? Or are you now convinced of the value in securing life insurance before the unexpected strikes? Trust JennyLife to find the perfect A-rated life insurance company to financially secure the future of your loved ones for rates as low as $5/month.

Tom RedingComment