Life Insurance for Cancer Patients and Survivors

Thang Truong
Thang Truong
Updated on:

One of the most stressful events in life is getting a diagnosis of a serious illness. That is especially true for a serious diagnosis like cancer. However, thanks to more advanced treatments, survival rates for cancer are improving. All types of cancer had a 69 percent survival rate in the period between 2008 through 2014. That’s up from a 49 percent survival rate from 1975 to 1977. However, you still might worry about what your passing could mean for your dependents, so that’s where it helps to find life insurance for cancer patients.

Can Cancer Patients Find Life Insurance?

Having health complications can make it harder to find life insurance. Even for a more manageable condition like diabetes, it gets far more tricky to find insurance, since many companies deem you as a high risk to insure. Health complications can increase your premiums or even cause you to be denied for coverage outright.

You probably won’t be able to find more traditional coverage while you’re undergoing treatment. However, after your protocol is finished, you may find coverage. You should wait until your treatment is complete before even attempting to apply for traditional life insurance.    

However, if you are undergoing treatment and want life insurance for cancer patients, you can still look into a guaranteed issue life insurance policy, which allows you to get coverage without medical exams or questions. However, these policies tend to have the highest premiums and the lowest coverage, usually between $5,000 and $25,000 in coverage. You may also have to outlive a certain time period that the insurer sets. This insurance coverage is usually for final expenses.

Oftentimes, you also may have to wait a certain period while you’re in remission to qualify for any type of policy that isn’t guaranteed issue. These waiting periods can run for years and vary based on the type of cancer you had, for example, common waiting periods are three to five years for lung cancer and one to five for breast cancer.  

Can Cancer Survivors Find Life Insurance?

Yes, cancer survivors may have more life insurance options. If you are in remission or in a number of years past your last treatment, you may be qualified for term life or permanent life insurance. Whether or not you will be qualified for a policy and your rates depend on several factors, some of which are the following:

  • The type of cancer you had
  • The date when you were diagnosed with cancer
  • The date when your last treatment was
  • You overall health outside of the cancer

Different insurance companies may classify you into different underwriting ratings: Preferred Best; Preferred; Standard Plus; Standard; or Nonstandard. In addition, different types of cancer you had may put you in different ratings. For example, thyroid and prostate cancer survivors could have Preferred rating with some carriers; lung, breast, colon, renal cancer could result in Standard rating with some carriers;

Since everything gets more complicated for finding a life insurance policy when you have cancer in your medical history, you may want to consider working with a life insurance broker, especially if you are looking for a permanent life insurance policy. They can help you find the best companies that work with patients who have had cancer or even are undergoing treatment.  

What Happens If You’re Diagnosed with Cancer When You Have a Policy?

If you already have a policy and then are diagnosed with cancer, what happens to your policy can depend on the type. If you have a permanent policy, that means you are covered through the rest of your life. If you have a term policy, that policy will extend until the end of the term. Regardless of your life insurance types, nothing will change with your current policy.

In the case of term life policy, if it is convertible term life, and you have guaranteed insurability rider in your policy, you can convert to a permanent life insurance policy without proving your insurability.

Check your policy to make sure it covers you in case of death from cancer, but many policies do. Your policy may also have a terminal illness or accelerated death benefit rider and long term care rider in case of chronic illness that allows you to pull money out of the policy early to support your health care needs.

Where to Find Life Insurance for Cancer Patients and Survivors?

Since everything gets more complicated for finding life insurance when you have cancer in your medical history, you may want to consider working with an agent. They can help you find the best companies that work with patients who have had cancer or even are undergoing treatment.  

To get an idea of how major life insurers treat your condition, you may want to talk to their agents and get quotes. Factors like being in remission for a certain period of time, catching a type of cancer early or even what type of cancer you’ve had can affect quotes.

Spectrum Insurance Group recommends a few companies that are known for working with cancer survivors and patients. It lists Protective Life, Prudential, John Hancock, AIG, Lincoln National, and Banner Life. However, it’s always up to the company on whether it insures you, so it’s important to explore the quote process through each company.       

Final Thoughts

Finding life insurance for cancer patients can be challenging. If you’re still undergoing treatment, you’ll most likely only be able to find guaranteed issue policies or final expense insurance. Even when you’re in remission, you may have waiting periods. However, a good agent may help you be able to find coverage for your situation.  

Thang Truong

Thang Truong covers small business insurance and small business success at BravoPolicy. He is a licensed P&C insurance agent. Previously, he held product leadership positions at, Capital One, NerdWallet, and Mulberry Technology. He holds a MBA degree from UC Berkeley - Haas School of Business.

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