Buying Life Insurance After Cancer

If you've emerged on the other side of this disease, you can still qualify for life insurance.
Georgia Rose
By Georgia Rose 
Edited by Lisa Green

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If you have a history of cancer, buying life insurance may not be as tricky as you might think. However, the type of cancer you have, the prognosis and whether you’re in remission can affect the types of life insurance you can get, as well as the cost.

How cancer affects life insurance cost and eligibility

In general, insurers look at your medical history to get a better idea of your life expectancy. The price of your policy is based in part on your health. Diseases like cancer typically increase the risk to the insurer, so your premiums are higher. In some cases, you may be denied coverage altogether.

But don’t let this deter you from applying. Eligibility requirements vary among insurers, which is why it’s so important to compare life insurance quotes from different companies.

You may want to work with an independent life insurance agent who has experience with clients in your situation. An impaired risk specialist is an insurance professional who focuses on helping people with health conditions or risky hobbies buy coverage.

Best life insurance for current cancer patients

If you are currently undergoing treatment for cancer, or if it has metastasized or reached advanced stages, you may not qualify for traditional, low-cost policies that use medical histories to set rates. But don’t worry — there are policies that don’t require information on your health.

Guaranteed issue life insurance policies offer coverage regardless of your medical history. These policies are a type of permanent life insurance, which means coverage lasts your entire life. The only requirement is that you are within the eligible age range, typically from 40 to 85. The downside to this type of insurance is the cost. Without any information on your health, life insurance companies are taking a bigger risk insuring you, which means the premiums are typically high compared to policies that require a life insurance medical exam.

Group life insurance through work is typically guaranteed, which means you don’t need to provide any information about your health to qualify for coverage, and your employer often pays the premium. If you have access to this type of insurance through your job, you can get coverage despite a cancer diagnosis. However, many group life policies limit coverage to a few times your annual salary, which may not be enough for your family. Buying additional coverage through your workplace plan may require you to provide information on your health. It’s also worth keeping in mind that group policies are typically tied to your job, so if you leave, you may lose the coverage.

Best life insurance for cancer survivors

If you’re in remission, you may be able to qualify for traditional term or permanent life insurance policies. In general, the longer you’re healthy and cancer-free, the better your chances of getting a competitively priced policy.

Term life insurance covers you for a specific number of years, such as 10 or 20. It’s typically cheaper than permanent coverage and only pays out if you die during the term. Term life may be a good choice if you only need coverage for a set period of time, such as the years your children rely on you financially.

Permanent life insurance covers you for your entire life and pays out regardless of when you die. These policies typically include a cash value account, which grows over time. Whole life insurance is the most common type of permanent life insurance. It can be a good fit if you want to leave an inheritance for your beneficiaries when you die, or help them cover final expenses like funeral costs.

Some products may not be available to you for a few years after a diagnosis. For example, an insurer may require you to be in remission for five years before you can qualify for coverage. Even if you do qualify, you may still be subject to higher premiums. And, based on your diagnosis, the insurer may impose a waiting period to pay out a claim after your death.

Best life insurance for family history of cancer

When you apply for life insurance, insurers may ask whether your immediate family members, such as your parents or siblings, have a history of certain diseases like cancer. Insurers look for patterns to determine the likelihood of you getting the disease. For example, if several close family members have had lung cancer, an insurer may assume you are also at risk. A single cancer diagnosis in your family won’t likely make a big impact on your life insurance application.

Regardless of the type and severity of the cancer, you must submit truthful information on your application. Insurers can deny claims within the first few years after issuing the policy if the application contains false or misleading information. Therefore, you want to make sure you are as accurate as you can be when applying for life insurance.

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