Life Insurance for Cancer Survivors

life insurance for cancer survivors

Surviving cancer is one of the toughest battles that one can fight, and we congratulate you on being tough enough to persevere. Now that the battle is over and the road to recovery has begun, it’s easy to understand why you have come to terms with your mortality. When facing the fact that we may not be here one day, we want to make sure we leave our family behind without any financial hardships, that’s where life insurance comes into the picture. So can you get life insurance as a cancer survivor? Believe it or not, it is a possibility and it will depend on the many factors that the life insurance companies look at.

In summary, here is what you will learn in this article:

  1. You can get coverage as a cancer survivor.
  2. It will depend on factors such as type of cancer and time since treatment.
  3. The longer since treatment has been successful the better.
  4. Preferred rates are possible for some cases with certain cancers.
  5. Typically you can expect “high risk” premium rates in the form of tables and flat extras(explained below).
  6. Your best bet is to work with an independent agent familiar with insuring cancer survivors.
  7. You’ve arrived at your destination.

That life insurance for cancer survivors in a nutshell. You can get in touch with us to learn more or  you can read on. Lets get into getting life insurance coverage as s survivor.

What Life Insurance Companies Will Review

Even if you are completely healthy, the life insurance companies will look at a few things to determine your eligibility for coverage. The standard procedure is to administer a medical exam, look through your medical records through the Medical Information Bureau(MIB), and check your motor vehicle report for any DUI’s and violations. Outside of that they want to know your overall health, lifestyle, occupation and anything else that may present a risk. That’s just if you’re healthy, if you had cancer, they will want to know every detail about your condition. Here is what they will look at.

Current Age/Date of Diagnosis – normally the older you are and the further from the date of diagnoses, the better potential for qualifying for coverage.

Type of Cancer/Stage – the type of cancer is one of the most important factors that the company will consider to determine your rate class and qualification. Some forms of cancer will allow you to qualify for standard rates while others are an automatic substandard rating. We will discuss the different outcomes below.

Type of Treatment – another big factor is the treatment of the cancer. The longer it has been since the treatment was successful, the better for your rate. Also a cancer that was able to be treated with a surgery vs ongoing chemo is also better for your rate.

Re occurrence – the life insurance company will want to know if the cancer has been reoccurring and what were the results of the re occurrence. While you seem like a bigger risk with a reoccurring cancer, it doesn’t disqualify you for coverage as long as it was treated. We have successfully secured policies for clients with reoccurring cancer in the past.

Complications/Other Factors – the last couple things that will be looked over is any post therapy complications and other factors. The other factors include things like overall healthy, lifestyle, and background history.

These are the most common factors that the life insurance companies will review when underwriting your application. The rest of the factors will be unique to the type of cancer you have. Based on these factors you will qualify for certain rates. Here’s a quick explanation of what health classes you can potentially fall in to before we dive into possible outcomes with different types of cancer.

Tables and Flat Extras

Life insurance companies typically have 5 different rate classes that you can qualify for. This includes Preferred Plus, Preferred, which is for the healthy, Standard Plus, Standard, for the less healthy, and Substandard Rating for those that aren’t in good health or are considered a high risk. On top of these 5, the Substandard ratings are broken down into tables that range from 1 to 10. Each table is a 25% increase in premium form the Standard rate. So table 1 being a 25% increase, table 2 being a 50% increase, and so on.

Another possibility is that you receive a flat extra due to your cancer history. A flat extra is another measure life insurance companies take to penalize you for the risk. Whether you’re in subpar heath or have a dangerous hobby, the flat extra can be a common addition to your rate. So what is a flat extra? It is a surcharge per every thousand dollars of coverage. So for the sake of easy math, let’s say you are looking to get a $100,000 life insurance policy. If your flat extra is $5 then you will have an additional $500 added on to your annual premium.

Now that we broke the rate classes and flat extras, let’s get into what kind of outcomes you can expect.

Types of Cancer and Possible Outcomes

All cancers aren’t created equal. Each cancer comes with its own share of risk and life insurance companies treat them as such. The type of cancer and type of treatment will affect your rate. Let’s see what the possible outcomes are with each type of cancer.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Because this is a type of cancer that doesn’t spread, most companies can actually provide you with really good rates. With complete removal you can qualify for Standard rates and even Preferred with select companies. This is the easiest type of cancer to apply for coverage with.

Breast Cancer

For breast cancer it requires some time after completion of a successful treatment before life insurance companies can consider you. They will look at the type, stage, size and more. Here are the possible outcomes.

Best Case – the best case scenario is that you can qualify for a standard rate after 2 – 3 years of successful treatment. You should also be over 40 years of age to qualify for this with a localized, and low grade cancer. If factors are favorable, the standard rate is possible with some carriers.

Typical Case – typically you can expect a table rating or a flat extra after 2 years since treatment. They will weigh all of the factors. If most of the factors checkout, and your follow up visits with the doctor are favorable, you can expect to be in the lower tier tables and smaller flat extra fees. The less favorable the actors, the higher the table and flat extra.

Worst case – for most of these cancers the worst case is a decline, please read the “Worst Case” scenario below.

Colon Cancer

With colon cancer, and most cancers, underwriting can only be done once the treatment is completed. While each company has slightly different guideline, here is what you can expect.

Best Case – the best case scenario can be different from company to company. In some cases, the best scenario is to get a standard rate 3 years after successful treatment. In other cases, you can possibly get preferred rates after 10 years. If it was a stage 0 tumor, standard or better is possible.

Typical Case – typically you will have to wait 3 years after treatment and you would be considered for either a table rating or flat extra with most companies. Some companies will consider a $10 to $12 flat extra for four years. Meaning the flat extra would drop off after the fourth year. This is usually a stage 1 tumor with 2 years after full treatment.


For Leukemia there are a few more factors at play which depend on whether its acute or chronic. Here is the best case and typical case for each.

Best Case – for leukemia preferred rates are not available. So the best you can expect is a standard plus rate after 10 years. In most cases however, the best case will be a standard rate if its acute lymphoid leukemia. If its chronic lymphoid leukemia you will most likely land in the early tables of 1 to 4. This is for those who have been diagnosed for at least 2 years and are over 50.

Typical Case – typically for acute lymphoid leukemia you can get a standard rate with a flat extra. With chronic lymphoid leukemia you can expect upwards of a table 8 rating depending on date since diagnosis, age of diagnosis and other factors.

Lung Cancer

Most life insurance companies will only consider a lung cancer survivor if treatment has been completed, not smoking and no re occurrence.

Best Case – Depending on the company, the best case scenario for a stage 1 cancer will be standard after 7 years or a $15 flat extra after 3 years. Other carriers will offer either table ratings or postponement if not enough time since treatment.

Typical Case – in most cases you will get a standard with a flat extra if over 5 years since successful treatment given no other complications. If less than five years most carriers will ask to postpone if stage 1. For stage 2 you are looking at a standard rate after years or a large flat extra.

Prostate Cancer

With prostate cancer it will depending on years since treatment, stage of cancer, and Gleason grade of tumor.

Best Case – if the stage is T1 to T2 and Gleason Grade is 2-4 then you can probably get a standard rate if no PSA is detectable post-op for 50 to 59 year of age. If 60 to 0 then standard is also possible under similar condition with Gleason grade ranging 2 to 6.

Typical Case – if your PSA is less than 10 you will most likely qualify for a table rating ranging from table 2 to 6.

Skin Cancer

For skin cancer it depends on the type and the time since treatment.

Best Case – if it is Malignant melanoma in-situ then preferred is possible. If Malignant melanoma, then there is the best case of getting a standard rate if all other factors are favorable.

Typical Case – what you can expect most of the time is standard rate with a flat extra. This is usually for 2-5 years following treatment.  Standard plus is possible if over 10 years since treatment.

Testicular Cancer

For testicular cancer it will depending on the stage of cancer, date of diagnosis and treatment.

Best Case – Stage 1 Seminoma can qualify for a standard rate following completion of treatment. Preferred is possible once qualifying for standard rates for more than 5 years.

Typical Case – for stage 2 Seminoma you will most likely get a flat extra for 4 years and a postponement if applying within year of completed treatment. This will largely depend on the carrier presenting the best offer. The average for the flat extra in these instances is $10.

Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid is one of the types of cancer that can be a little more lenient when it comes to underwriting. Some companies may even consider preferred once enough time has lapsed.

Best Case – the best case scenario is that there has been at least 5 years passed since treatment and you qualify for a preferred rate if all else is favorable. Otherwise you can most likely expect a standard rate if over age 45 with stage 1 or stage 2 localized, low grade cancer.

Typical Case – Typically you can expect a standard rate after 7 to 8 years following treatment depending on the company.

Uterine Cancer

Life insurance underwriters will look at the age of diagnosis, stage and grade of the uterine cancer, and whether or not there has been a re occurrence. Once all of these factors are weighed they will determine the outcome. Here are a couple scenarios.

Best Case – there is a possibility for a preferred rate if it’s after 5 years of treatment of a stage 1A cancer. Most of the time the best case will be a standard rate for a stage 1a, grade 1 cancer, following successful treatment.

Typical Case – Like most cancers you can qualify for a standard with a flat extra following a few years of successful treatment. The flat extra is bound to last up to 4 years for an average of $10 per thousand dollars of coverage.

Wort Case

The worst case scenario in all these cases is a decline for coverage. At this point your option is a guaranteed issue life insurance policy that provides coverage for up to $25,000. The only way to get more coverage would be to stack the policies with different companies. These policy are issued on a guaranteed basis with no questions asked but come with a 2 year waiting period. Meaning there is no death benefit payout if you die within the first two years. Your beneficiaries would only receive the premiums paid in plus interest.

What We Do to Get You Coverage

Many rookie agents out there tell clients that they can’t get life insurance if they have a history of cancer. While this may be true for the company they work for, this isn’t true for all the companies out there. When you have a history of cancer it is important that you work only with experienced independent agents that are familiar with the few life insurance carriers that will provide the most favorable rates for your condition. Some companies offer better rates for certain cancers, while not for others and vice versa. This is why you must have a knowledgeable professional to help you for high risk cases like this.

But how do you know you are working with an experienced agent?

Well there are a few things an agent has to do when you have a history of cancer the first is the pre-qualification. If your agent doesn’t ask you detailed questions about your condition, then you better bet they don’t know what they are doing and will probably apply with the wrong company. Here are a few things we do to ensure you get coverage.

  1. Pre-qual – as mentioned this is one of the most important things your agent can do. This gives us an idea about the potential rate you will qualify for and the companies that will be tip pick to apply with. Playing Russian roulette with life insurance applications is usually a bad idea, it always best to shoot for the company with the most favorable odds.
  2. Quick Quote – another thing that most agents don’t do, either because they are lazy or just don’t know, is a little something called a quick quote. This is where we write down all the details regarding your situation, including age, overall health, and details about your diagnosis. We then submit it to the life insurance companies, but anonymously. Within a few days they get back to us letting us know what this potential situation would qualify for. We then figure out which company has the best offer and attach that offer to the life insurance application.
  3. Cover Letter – the final step we take takes place after we complete the application. We ask the client to detail the condition and the treatment and any life style factors that positively benefit the recovery. This can include diet, exercise, quitting smoking and anything else that aids your condition. This makes your situation more real to the underwriters and adds more color to the application. This can often be the difference between rate classes that you can qualify for.

In a nutshell this is our process for cancer survivors. It insures you get the best possible rate on the market.

Start Here

If you are a cancer survivor looking for coverage, then you are at the right place. InsureChance is an independent life insurance agency that shops around with all of the life insurance companies on the market to get you the best rate, at no extra cost you! If you have any questions feel free to contact us at 888-492-1967 or hit the chat button below, welcome to InsureChance!

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About Sean Dudayev

Sean is the Co-Founder and Director of Marketing at InsureChance. On a mission to save families from financial struggle, one life insurance policy at a time.

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