Can You Get Life Insurance After a Liver Cancer Diagnosis?

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17 Minute read

Originally published: September 12, 2023

glioblastoma Life Insurance in Canada

Talk to one of our experienced advisors today!

17 Minute read
Originally published: September 12,  2023

glioblastoma Life Insurance in Canada

The world of life insurance can be challenging to navigate, even more so with a liver cancer diagnosis. It’s in these critical moments that financial planning, including life insurance, takes on new urgency. This blog is designed to serve as a guide for those grappling with the questions and uncertainties that arise when looking for life insurance coverage with liver cancer.

Here, we’ll explore topics ranging from the types of policies available and the unique challenges of the application process, to how your premiums might change if your cancer goes into remission. Whether you’re recently diagnosed, caring for a loved one, or simply looking to understand the insurance landscape better, this guide aims to arm you with the information you need to make well-informed decisions. Let’s dive into the multifaceted world of life insurance for individuals with liver cancer.

Overview of Liver Cancer

Liver cancer is a malignant condition that originates in the cells of the liver, a vital organ located in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen. The liver performs critical functions, including detoxifying harmful substances, metabolizing nutrients, and producing bile for digestion. 

Liver cancer can occur as a primary tumor, meaning it starts in the liver itself, or as a secondary or metastatic tumor, which indicates that the cancer originated in another part of the body and spread to the liver. The most common types of primary liver cancer are hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which originates in hepatocytes, the main liver cells, and cholangiocarcinoma, which arises from the cells lining the bile ducts. 

The prevalence of liver cancer varies globally, but it is particularly high in parts of Asia and Africa. Risk factors for developing liver cancer include chronic liver diseases like cirrhosis, hepatitis B or C infection, excessive alcohol consumption, and exposure to aflatoxins. 

Diagnosis typically involves imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT scans, and MRIs, as well as biopsies to confirm the presence of malignant cells. Treatment options include surgery to remove tumors, liver transplantation, chemotherapy, radiation, and targeted therapies. Unfortunately, liver cancer is often diagnosed at advanced stages, making it one of the most lethal forms of cancer with a relatively poor prognosis. Early detection and intervention are crucial for improving outcomes.

Case Study: Sarah’s Journey to Securing Life Insurance with Liver Cancer in Canada

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Sarah, a 45-year-old mother of two, was diagnosed with Stage II liver cancer in early 2021. Living in Toronto, Canada, she quickly began treatment, involving both surgical intervention and chemotherapy. Amid the whirlwind of medical consultations and treatments, Sarah realized the importance of revisiting her financial plans, especially her life insurance coverage. She had a term life insurance policy, but given her new diagnosis, she felt the need to explore additional options.

Initial Obstacles: Upon contacting her existing insurance provider, Sarah was informed that her current term life insurance policy would remain unchanged as long as she continued to pay the premiums. However, any new coverage or changes to the existing policy would entail a comprehensive medical review, which could significantly raise her premiums.

Exploring Options: Sarah decided to consult a financial advisor specializing in high-risk medical cases. After thorough research, her advisor suggested applying for guaranteed issue life insurance, a policy type with no medical questions or exams but with a graded benefits period. This meant if Sarah passed away within the first two years of the policy, only a portion of the benefits would be paid out.

Medical Underwriting: Simultaneously, Sarah also explored policies that required medical underwriting, despite knowing the premiums would be higher. She faced rigorous medical tests and numerous questions about her diagnosis, treatment, and overall health. These ranged from details about the stage of her cancer and treatment plans to her lifestyle choices and family medical history.

The Decision: After comparing various quotes and options, Sarah opted for a smaller guaranteed issue policy to supplement her existing term life insurance. This choice provided her the security of additional coverage without the financial burden of exorbitant premiums. She also appreciated the graded benefits feature, which offered her family some financial relief even within the first two years of the policy.

The Outcome: A year into her new policy, Sarah’s cancer went into remission. While this didn’t lower the premiums on her existing policies, it did offer her the possibility of qualifying for new, more affordable coverage in the future, should she decide to reapply.

Can I get life insurance with a liver cancer diagnosis?

Yes! You can get life insurance even with a liver cancer diagnosis. The availability and terms of coverage can vary widely depending on various factors, such as the stage of the cancer, the applicant’s overall health, and the insurance provider’s policies. 

One alternative is a guaranteed issue life insurance policy, which does not require a medical exam but typically offers lower coverage amounts. These policies usually have graded death benefits, meaning that the full benefit will not be paid out if the insured person dies within a certain period after the policy is issued, usually two to three years. Another option could be group life insurance through an employer, which often does not require a medical exam but may offer limited coverage.

You might also consider options like critical illness insurance or accelerated death benefit riders on existing policies, which can provide some financial relief in the event of a severe illness. 

Please note that withholding information about your liver cancer diagnosis when applying for life insurance could result in the denial of a future claim, as it constitutes insurance fraud. Therefore, complete honesty during the application process is crucial.

The Challenges of Getting Life Insurance with Liver Cancer

Securing life insurance with a liver cancer diagnosis presents significant challenges due to the high level of risk that insurance companies associate with the condition. Liver cancer is often detected at advanced stages and generally has a poor prognosis, making insurers wary of providing coverage. Applicants may undergo strict medical underwriting processes that could include detailed medical questionnaires, reviews of medical records, and even specialized medical examinations focused on the liver’s condition. Insurers may request recent test results, treatment plans, and prognostic information from healthcare providers to evaluate the applicant’s life expectancy. 

Premiums are typically higher for those diagnosed with liver cancer, reflecting the higher risk of a shorter lifespan. In some instances, traditional life insurance may be unavailable altogether, forcing individuals to seek alternative options such as guaranteed issue life insurance, which offers lower coverage amounts and often comes with graded benefits.

What Kind of Questions Will Insurers Ask Me About My Medical History?

When applying for life insurance, especially with a liver cancer diagnosis, insurers will ask detailed questions to assess your medical history and gauge the level of risk you pose. The objective is to understand the severity, stage, and prognosis of your liver cancer, as well as how it may interact with other health factors. Common questions may include:

  • When were you first diagnosed with liver cancer?
  • What type of liver cancer do you have? Is it primary like hepatocellular carcinoma, or is it secondary (metastasized from another part of the body)?
  • What is the stage and grade of your liver cancer? Higher stages and grades often result in higher premiums or potential denial of coverage.
  • What treatments have you undergone or are currently undergoing? This could include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or targeted treatments.
  • How successful have these treatments been? Have there been any complications?
  • Are you in remission? If so, for how long? Insurers may also inquire about any symptoms you are currently experiencing.
  • Do you have any other health conditions such as cirrhosis or hepatitis that may be related to liver cancer? This is important as associated conditions can further complicate the prognosis.
  • How frequently do you visit healthcare providers for follow-ups or treatment?
  • What medications are you currently taking, including both prescription and over-the-counter drugs?
  • Questions about smoking, alcohol consumption, and recreational drug use may also be asked, as these can have an impact on liver health and cancer prognosis.
  • Is there a history of liver cancer or other types of cancer in your family? Though not directly related to your condition, this could be an additional factor in the underwriting process.
  • Have you been denied insurance coverage in the past due to your liver cancer or any other reason?

Being honest and thorough in your answers is crucial; withholding information can lead to the denial of future claims and may be considered fraudulent. The insurance provider will use your responses, possibly in addition with medical exams and records, to determine your eligibility for coverage, set your premiums, and specify any limitations or exclusions.

Life Insurance Option With a Liver Cancer Diagnosis 

When it comes to life insurance, there are several types to consider, each with its own set of features, benefits, and drawbacks. These become especially important to weigh if you have a liver cancer diagnosis.

Term Life Insurance: Term life policies offer coverage for a specific time period, such as 10, 20, or 30 years. These policies are generally less expensive compared to other types but may be challenging to obtain with a liver cancer diagnosis. If approved, expect significantly higher premiums. Term life insurance may be more suitable for those with early-stage liver cancer and a favorable prognosis.

Whole Life Insurance: Whole life policies provide lifetime coverage and include a cash value component, which can grow over time. The premiums are usually higher than term life policies, but they remain constant. Obtaining a whole life policy with a liver cancer diagnosis may be difficult, and if offered, the premiums could be prohibitively expensive.

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance: This type of policy is often easier to qualify for because it doesn’t require a medical exam or detailed health questionnaire. However, it comes with higher premiums, lower coverage amounts, and usually a graded death benefit, meaning the full payout is not available until a certain number of years have passed. For those with advanced liver cancer, this may be one of the few viable options.

Simplified Issue Life Insurance: This type of insurance requires answering a few health-related questions but doesn’t typically require a full medical exam. It might be an option for those with less severe forms of liver cancer, but premiums will still be higher than standard policies.

Group Life Insurance: Often offered as part of an employee benefits package, group life insurance generally does not require a medical exam. Coverage is often limited but can serve as a valuable supplement to another policy. If you were diagnosed with liver cancer while already covered under a group policy, you might be able to retain some level of coverage.

Final Expense Insurance: Also known as burial insurance, these policies are designed to cover end-of-life expenses. They typically offer easier qualification but come with lower coverage amounts.

For someone with liver cancer, Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance, Group Life Insurance, or Simplified Issue Life Insurance may be the most realistic options. Each has its limitations, and the right choice will depend on individual circumstances like the stage of the cancer, overall health, financial situation, and coverage needs. Consulting with an insurance advisor specialized in high-risk cases can provide personalized guidance.

How Much More Will I Have to Pay for Life Insurance Premiums if I Have Liver Cancer?

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The cost of life insurance premiums for individuals with liver cancer can vary significantly depending on several factors, such as the stage of the cancer, the type of treatment received, overall health, and the type of insurance policy chosen. Generally speaking, you should expect to pay higher premiums than someone of the same age and gender who doesn’t have liver cancer. 

In some cases, the premiums could be several times higher. For instance, guaranteed issue life insurance policies, which often don’t require a medical exam, tend to have higher premiums to begin with; those premiums can escalate even further if you have a liver cancer diagnosis. 

The severity and stage of your cancer will also be significant determinants in the pricing. Those with early-stage cancer or who are in remission may find slightly more favorable rates compared to individuals with advanced or aggressive forms of the disease. 

While it’s difficult to provide specific numbers without knowing individual circumstances, it’s safe to say that liver cancer will materially impact the affordability of life insurance. Consultation with insurance specialists can give you a clearer picture of what premiums you might expect.

The Application Process

The application process for life insurance for someone with a liver cancer diagnosis is more complex and rigorous compared to someone without a significant pre-existing condition. Once you’ve chosen a provider and the type of policy you want to apply for, here’s what you can generally expect:

  1. Initial Application: The first step involves filling out a detailed application form. This will include questions about your personal details, medical history, and lifestyle habits. Be prepared to answer in-depth questions specifically about your liver cancer diagnosis, treatment, and overall prognosis.
  2. Medical Questionnaire and Documentation: In addition to the general application, you’ll likely need to complete a medical questionnaire that focuses on your liver cancer. You may also need to provide medical records, pathology reports, and letters from your treating physicians. Insurers may request a history of test results, treatments undertaken, and medications prescribed.
  3. Medical Examination: While some types of policies like guaranteed issue life insurance may not require a medical exam, most traditional life insurance policies do. The medical exam could be more comprehensive for applicants with liver cancer, potentially including liver function tests, imaging studies, and even biopsies in certain cases.
  4. Additional Questioning: Based on the results of the medical examination and your submitted documents, the insurer may have follow-up questions. Be prepared for additional scrutiny and possibly further medical tests or consultations.
  5. Underwriting: After all the data is collected, it goes to the underwriting department where the insurer assesses the risk associated with insuring you. This is a critical step where your eligibility for coverage, premium rates, and any limitations or exclusions are determined.
  6. Quote and Policy Customization: Once underwriting is complete, you will receive a quote that outlines the premiums you’ll need to pay and the terms of coverage. You may also have the opportunity to customize your policy by adding riders or adjusting coverage amounts.
  7. Approval and Issuance: If everything is in order and you accept the quote, the policy is then issued. However, expect this process to take longer than it would for someone without a significant pre-existing condition; it could be a matter of weeks or even months.
  8. Waiting Period: Many policies, especially guaranteed issue ones, come with a waiting or exclusion period, during which full benefits may not be available. This is often the case when dealing with high-risk applications such as those involving liver cancer.
  9. Policy Activation: Once the policy is issued and the first premium is paid, your coverage generally begins, albeit with any restrictions or waiting periods as specified.

What Happens if My Liver Cancer Goes Into Remission? Will My Premiums Decrease?

If your liver cancer goes into remission, that’s certainly positive news from a health perspective, but its impact on your life insurance premiums depends on various factors, including your insurance provider’s policies and the terms of your coverage. Generally, life insurance premiums are determined at the time of policy issuance and remain fixed for the duration of the term in the case of term life insurance, or for life in the case of whole life insurance. This means that a change in your health status, even a positive one like cancer going into remission, typically won’t automatically lead to a decrease in your existing policy’s premiums.

However, there are some avenues you might explore:

  • Re-application: One option is to re-apply for a new life insurance policy. With the cancer in remission, you might qualify for a policy with lower premiums. Be aware that the new application will involve a fresh round of medical underwriting, and there’s no guarantee of lower rates.
  • Policy Rider or Amendment: Some policies have riders or terms that may allow for a reevaluation of premiums based on significant changes in health. This is relatively rare but worth checking with your insurance provider.
  • Conversion Options: If you initially took out a term policy with a conversion option, you might be able to convert it to a whole life policy without a new medical exam. However, whole life policies generally have higher premiums, so this may not be a cost-saving move.
  • Group Insurance: If you have group life insurance through an employer, going into remission might make you eligible for additional coverage or better rates under that plan, although this is at the discretion of the employer and insurance provider.
  • Consult an Advisor: If your cancer goes into remission, it would be a good idea to consult with a financial advisor or insurance specialist familiar with high-risk medical cases. They can help you explore options for potentially lowering your premiums or obtaining additional coverage.


In closing, securing life insurance with a liver cancer diagnosis is undoubtedly a complex and emotionally taxing process. However, understanding the ins and outs of this crucial financial instrument can provide not just coverage, but also peace of mind for you and your loved ones. Through this blog, we’ve explored the various types of policies available, what the application process entails, how your premiums could be affected, and much more. While the challenges are significant, they are not insurmountable. With the right information and expert guidance, you can take meaningful steps to ensure the financial well-being of those you care about most. Thank you for joining us on this informational journey; we hope it empowers you to make the best choices for your unique circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Life Insurance with Liver Cancer

Yes, it’s possible to be denied life insurance based on a liver cancer diagnosis, especially if the cancer is at an advanced stage or if you have other significant health issues. Some specialized high-risk insurers might still offer coverage, but at higher premiums.

Failure to disclose a liver cancer diagnosis when applying for life insurance is considered insurance fraud and could result in the denial of future claims or cancellation of the policy.

Group life insurance through an employer often does not require a medical exam and can provide some level of coverage. However, the coverage amounts are generally lower and may not meet all your needs.

Some insurance providers allow for additional riders, like accelerated death benefits or critical illness riders, which may be beneficial for those with a liver cancer diagnosis. However, eligibility for these riders will vary by insurer and could result in higher premiums.

Age limits can vary between insurance providers and types of policies. However, older applicants with a liver cancer diagnosis may find it even more challenging to secure affordable coverage.

Find a solution for what you’re looking for 

While the road to securing life insurance with a liver cancer diagnosis is fraught with challenges, armed with the right information, you can make informed decisions to safeguard your family’s financial future. At Protect Your Wealth, we work with and compare policies and quotes from the best life insurance companies in Canada to ensure the best solution for you and your needs. We provide expert life insurance solutions, including no medical life insurance, critical illness insurance, term life insurance, and permanent life insurance to build the best package to give you the protection you need. 

Contact Protect Your Wealth or call us at 1-877-654-6119 to talk to an advisor today! We’re proudly based out of Hamilton, and service clients anywhere in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta including areas such as Waterdown, Medicine Hat, and Victoria.

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