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Can You Buy Life Insurance After Cancer?

Amy Danise

If you’ve battled cancer, you may be wondering how hard it might be to buy life insurance.

Life insurance companies take current and past health into account when deciding whether to approve an application and how much to charge. EverQuote examined the cancer rules for many major life insurance companies to find out what cancer survivors might expect.

Current cancer treatment

If you’re currently undergoing treatment for any type of cancer, expect your life insurance application to be declined or a decision postponed until after treatment. Life insurers will want to see successful treatment and regular follow-up visits before they consider selling coverage.

Past non-melanoma skin cancer

It should be easy to get life insurance after treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Treatment typically involves simple removal of the area. Once you’ve had successful treatment, you can likely qualify for the best life insurance rates if your overall health qualifies.

Breast cancer

Breast cancer survivors can likely find life insurance after successful treatment. Depending on the stage or grade of the cancer, a life insurer might have a waiting time before considering an application, such as 10 years.

Hodgkin lymphoma

Hodgkin lymphoma affects part of the immune system called the lymph system. You will likely be declined for life insurance if you’ve had Hodgkin lymphoma.

Other past cancers

Life insurance companies generally like to wait a certain period of time after cancer treatment before they’ll issue you a policy. These time periods can vary considerably among companies and types of cancer, but it’s common for life insurers to wait 10 years after cancer treatment before they’ll consider an application. They’ll be looking for successful treatment, no recurrence and that you made follow-up doctor visits.

Even with successful treatment, you likely won’t be eligible for the best life insurance rates. However, you may be able to get the rates offered to those with average health, or slightly better.

What to expect if you apply for life insurance after cancer treatment

If you’ve recovered from cancer and are applying for life insurance, gather all the dates and details of your treatment for the application process. Life insurance companies will also typically request medical records from all your doctors.

How to find life insurance after cancer

Work with an independent agent: Because the rates and rules for waiting times after treatment can vary so much among companies, it’s smart to work with an independent life insurance agent. An independent agent can shop among multiple companies for you to find the best life insurance quotes and cancer-friendly insurers.

Group life insurance at workplaces is generally issued regardless of health. While amounts may be small, group life insurance is a way to get some amount of coverage. Note that it also ends if you leave the job.

Guaranteed issue life insurance is another option, especially if you’re still undergoing treatment or don’t want to wait afterwards to buy a policy. Guaranteed issue life insurance policies have no health questions and are issued to anyone who applies and pays. Note that it’s generally a very expensive way to buy life insurance.

Guaranteed issue policies also commonly have graded death benefits, which means your beneficiaries won’t get the full payout unless you die after two or three years of having the policy. If you die before then, beneficiaries get a refund of the premiums paid or only a partial death benefit.

Is cancer covered by life insurance?

If you already have a policy, a death from cancer is covered by all standard types of life insurance, along with other diseases, illnesses and accidents. So if you bought life insurance before a cancer diagnosis, there’s no need to worry about whether your beneficiaries will get a payout.

The type of policy that won’t cover death from cancer is accidental death and dismemberment insurance. This type of life insurance only covers deaths that are accidental, such as those from car crashes and falls.