Life Insurance Coverage after Surviving Cancer

Life Insurance Coverage after Surviving Cancer

For women, breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, second only to non-melanoma skin cancer. Across the country, over 232,000 women were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2013. Over 2,000 men were also diagnosed. As early detection and treatment techniques improve, more and more individuals are surviving. In fact, there were 2.9 million female breast cancer survivors living in the U.S. in January 2012. As a breast cancer survivor, you may appreciate more of the aspects of everyday life, but if you have a spouse, children, or other dependents, you may also wonder if your cancer might reoccur, and whether you will be able to buy life insurance coverage. An experienced independent life insurance agent can help you review options for life insurance coverage after surviving cancer.

Today, many women are leading normal lives, cancer-free after surviving breast cancer. Having dealt with such a trying experience as being diagnosed with cancer, you may have started to think more about planning for the future. You might have consulted with a wealth manager, put your affairs in place by drafting a will, or thought about purchasing insurance coverage for the benefit of family members. In doing this, you may wonder if you are still eligible for life insurance after living through breast cancer. An independent life insurance agent can reassure you that, yes, you are still eligible for policies offered through certain carriers.

Find the Right Policy

An independent insurance agent, experienced in working with breast cancer survivors, their spouses, and loved ones, will meet with you to talk about buying life insurance. He will want to know about your individual cancer history, and will ask about the stage of breast cancer you had. He will also want to know about any and all treatments and surgeries you’ve undergone, and how long it has been since you completed your last breast cancer treatment. Also, an independent insurance agent will probably ask about the size of your tumor or tumors, and whether or not you ever experienced the spread of your breast cancer into your lymph nodes, or if there was any sign of metastasis. He will also want to know if you have experienced any relapses, and whether you continue to take any medications, and if so, which ones.

By discussing breast cancer survivors’ health history and cancer experience, an independent insurance agent can evaluate the options for life insurance that fit a woman’s needs. It is important to provide the agent with any medical information required. If you try to be vague about your cancer experience, or hide medical forms, the agent will assume that your cancer was worse that you are letting on and will charge you a higher premium. So, be as honest as possible. In general, most insurance companies do not offer coverage to individuals who still have cancer and are in treatment. You usually have to wait until you have been cleared of the cancer by a doctor and have been several years cancer-free. For breast cancer, this is usually five years. As the old saying goes, “You can buy it only when you don’t need it.”


Thankfully, there are several life insurance options available to breast cancer survivors. One policy type is called impaired risk life insurance, also known as substandard-rated coverage. Before purchasing a policy, your insurer will ask questions about your cancer history, treatment, and medication to make sure that you are insurable. The rates for this coverage depend upon your age and the type of breast cancer that you’ve had. On average, you can expect to spend 50 to 350 percent more on premiums than a standard policy, depending upon what is included. This is likely one of your best options for insurance. If you are interested in a standard life insurance policy, a flat extra to be added if you are accepted. A flat extra is an additional cost that lasts for a certain number of years. It is a fee that is charged per $1,000 of death benefit included in the plan.

If you work for an employer that offers life insurance, consider purchasing group coverage. Under this type of policy, you are not required to take a health exam or answer any questions about your medical history. You only need to check the box on the form that states you’d like to enroll. Everyone in a group plan pays the same rate, whether you have had cancer or are have had no health issues. Typically, your premium will be taken out of your paycheck, so you don’t need to worry about keeping track of an additional monthly bill. Keep in mind that many employers have a cap on their life insurance policies, usually at double your salary rate.

Similar to group life insurance is no-exam coverage. As the name implies, you do not need to have a health exam in order to qualify. There are two types: guaranteed issue and graded benefit. Guaranteed issue will automatically accept you. It provides a specified cash amount to a designated beneficiary upon your death. Since insurance companies know that this policy is popular with individuals who have poor health, there are often payout restrictions. For example, if you die within the first two years after the policy is issued, there will be no death benefit.

The second option is a graded benefit. There is no medical exam or questionnaire. If you die during the grading-in period from cancer or any other specified condition, the insurer will pay for the premiums and only part of the death benefit. If you die after the grading-in period, the death benefit will be paid in full.

Speak to an Agent

Coverage, premiums, and flat extras can change over time, and an independent insurance professional will advise you, as a breast cancer survivor, about changing your policy in order to receive a more affordable rate, or get rid of a flat extra. He will work with you to find the right life insurance based on your needs and cancer history.

It is natural to think about life insurance after such a life-changing event as surviving breast cancer. That is why it is important for breast cancer survivors to know that there are life insurance coverage options available. An independent insurance agent will help you buy the appropriate life insurance policy so that you can focus on moving forward after treatment and not on worrying about your loved ones’ future finances.

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Enhanced Insurance is not written by attorneys. If you’re looking for legal advice, you need to contact a lawyer. Further, insurance practices and forms change constantly and are varied from state to state. For definitive answers in your area, contact a local agent.

While the majority of people want an agent involved in their purchase of insurance, many people want to see if they can save money by buying direct from the insurance company. Others want to try a direct quote to make sure the premium they’re now paying through their local agent is fair. If you want a quote for your coverage, click on the competitive quote button on the right side of this page.

Jenna Christianson has a passion for research and writing. She has worked as a researcher for a variety of organizations ranging from genealogy to the transportation industry and everything in between. She is excited to be a part of the Enhanced Insurance team!

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