It’s crucial for breast cancer patients and survivors to be aware that they can still qualify for life insurance coverage. Many believe that being diagnosed with cancer makes them instantly ineligible for coverage, but this is not always the case. There are numerous life insurance providers that focus on offering protection to clients who have received a cancer diagnosis.
Being diagnosed with breast cancer undoubtedly has a big emotional toll on individuals and families. A common misconception is that if you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer you no longer qualify for life insurance. In reality, this is not the case. A common question we get from our clients is “can I get life insurance if I’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer?”
Yes! You can get life insurance even if you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer. Depending on your situation, you may even be eligible for favorable rates. Since each situation is unique, it is best to reach out to an advisor who can help you navigate your situation and find a policy that fits your needs.
Overview of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the abnormal growth of breast cells. To understand breast cancer, it is necessary to review how all cancers develop. Cancer is caused by mutations or abnormal alterations in the genes responsible for regulating cell growth and maintaining their health. The genes are located in the nucleus of each cell, which serves as the control room of each cell. Normally, the cells in our bodies replace themselves through an orderly process of cell growth: as old cells die, healthy new cells replace them. Over time, however, mutations can activate certain genes and inactivate others in a cell. This altered cell gains the ability to continue dividing uncontrollably and disorderly, producing more identical cells and forming a tumor.
A tumor can be benign, without health risks or malignant, and has the potential to be dangerous. Benign tumors are not cancerous; their cells have a similar appearance to normal cells, they grow slowly, and they do not invade nearby tissues or spread throughout the body. Malignant tumors are cancerous. Malignant cells can eventually spread beyond the original tumor to other parts of the body if left unchecked. The term breast cancer refers to a malignant tumor originating from breast cells.
Typically, breast cancer originates in either the cells of the milk-producing glands called lobules or the milk-draining ducts. Infrequently, breast cancer can begin in the stromal tissues, which include the breast’s fatty and fibrous connective tissues.
Over time, cancer cells can invade neighboring healthy breast tissue and spread to the underarm lymph nodes, which are small organs that filter out foreign substances. If cancer cells gain access to the lymph nodes, they can then spread to other organs. The stage of breast cancer refers to the extent to which cancer cells have spread beyond the original tumor.
Every individual can take steps to keep their bodies as healthy as possible, including eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, and exercising regularly. While these may have some effect on your risk of developing breast cancer, they cannot eliminate it entirely.
Types of Breast Cancer
The most prevalent types of breast cancer are:
Invasive ductal carcinoma – The cancer cells originate in the ducts and then spread to other regions of the breast tissue. Invasive cancer cells can also metastasize, or spread to other organs.
Invasive lobular carcinoma – Cancer cells originate in the lobules and then spread from the lobules to the nearby breast tissues. Additionally, these invasive cancer cells can spread to other organs.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer symptoms vary from individual to individual. Some individuals exhibit no signs or symptoms. Some common indicators of breast cancer include:
- New mass in the breast or armpit
- A thickening or enlargement of a portion of the breast
- Breast skin irritation or dimple formation
- Redness or flaky skin in the neck or breast region
- Pulling of the nipple or pain in the area of the nipple
- Non-breast milk nasal discharge, including blood
- Any alteration to the size or shape of the breasts
- Pain in any breast location
Does Life Insurance Cover Breast Cancer?
If you disclosed your health condition accurately when applying for life insurance or critical illness insurance and the policy has been issued, then the policy will cover newly diagnosed breast cancer. Your insurance company may deny coverage or claims if misleading information was provided. For instance, if there is no information about being diagnosed with cancer or being a cancer survivor while applying.
Keep in mind that different types of life insurance are easier or more difficult to obtain depending on your breast cancer diagnosis and progression. Traditional life insurance will include a lengthy questionnaire with a number of cancer-related questions. There will only be one or two questions about your breast cancer risks for simplified issue life insurance. Guaranteed issue life insurance will have no questions as it does not have any questionnaire. However, guaranteed issue life insurance requires a two-year deferral (waiting) period before your beneficiaries will be able to receive the full benefit amount. This means that if you pass away within the two-year window, the full benefit claim is denied and only the premiums paid so far are returned to your beneficiary.
If you have breast cancer but your prognosis is favorable and you do not expect to die within two years, a guaranteed issue policy is ideal. Guaranteed issue life insurance is available regardless of your health, whereas traditional and simplified issue insurance may deny your application.
How the Stages of Breast Cancer Affect Eligibility for Life Insurance
In the case of early-stage breast cancer, it may be necessary to wait anywhere from several months to several years after treatment before obtaining traditional life insurance. Then, you will likely incur higher premiums for a period of time. Approximately five years without cancer may qualify you for a rate reduction. Whereas, if you have stage 3 breast cancer, you may not be eligible for coverage for 10 to 15 years, and your premiums will be higher for the duration of the policy. With stage 4 breast cancer, you can only obtain guaranteed issue insurance, which has a $50,000 maximum coverage amount, or final expense insurance. Please keep in mind that every company is different and what you qualify for in one company doesn’t necessarily apply to another company.
That being said there are always alternatives and you have options! We recommend exploring guaranteed issue life insurance. We also recommend speaking to an advisor today to discuss your option.
Factors Insurance Companies Consider When Applying
There are steps you can take to facilitate the life insurance application process. However, it is essential to understand that each life insurance company has its own criteria regarding who they will and will not cover. Before searching for a life insurance provider, you must prepare for the application process. The insurer will require specific information on your health, so be prepared to obtain any relevant health records, such as:
- Date of diagnosis
- Age of patient when diagnosed
- Type of cancer
- Treatment methods – Mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation harm future health. Your insurance may call your oncologist, doctors, or treatment experts
- Current condition of your health – Do you have symptoms for which you have not yet consulted a physician?
- Any physicians and other medical experts who have treated you in the past
- Medications you are currently taking
- Family history of cancer
- Smoking status
Tips for Obtaining Life Insurance After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis
The following tips will assist you in obtaining life insurance after breast cancer:
- Recognize that your case is special: Different insurance companies will evaluate you and your diagnosis differently. Due to the complexity of breast cancer such as the size of the tumor, location, and invasiveness, applications are typically evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
- Seek support: When you were diagnosed, you consulted with professionals to guide you through your journey. Similarly, when acquiring life insurance after breast cancer, work with an agent who has experience in this field. It is their responsibility to find you the best coverage at a price that fits your budget. And remember that speaking with an insurance agent is always complimentary.
- Provide your agent with your pathology report: Insurance companies offer policies at a range of prices. An agent can send your pathology report to multiple insurance companies at once and request a quote to determine whether the company will offer insurance and, if so, get an estimation of the cost.
- Purchase as much insurance as your budget will allow: Purchase a 20- or 30-year term life insurance policy for the maximum amount the insurer is willing to offer and that you can afford. Although obtaining coverage after a diagnosis of breast cancer will be more expensive, it will be worthwhile to protect your loved ones and have peace of mind while raising a family.
Remember to discuss your options with an insurance agent if you have/had breast cancer.
Life Insurance for Breast Cancer Patients
Most life insurance companies in Canada offer coverage for cancer patients. A policy’s coverage and cost can differ substantially depending on where you get it. Traditional life insurance and no-medical life insurance (simplified or guaranteed life insurance) are the two most popular options.
Term Life Insurance
A term life insurance policy provides coverage for a predetermined time period, such as 10 or 20 years i.e. Term 10, Term 20. Term insurance operates in the most straightforward manner: if the policyholder dies during the term, the coverage amount is paid to the beneficiaries. Term life provides financial security for you and your family in the event of a death or disability. It is significantly more affordable compared to whole life insurance policies. The policy is adaptable to best suit your needs. Furthermore, once you’ve locked in your policy, your rates will never change. Term life has a guaranteed death benefit which gives you the peace of mind knowing your family is protected.
No Medical Life Insurance
No medical exam life insurance is a unique form of life insurance that does not require a medical exam for underwriting. This is appealing to high-risk individuals who are unable to obtain traditional coverage due to serious health conditions, (like breast cancer) hazardous occupations, or other factors. No medical life insurance is typically more expensive and provides less coverage for the cost, but it does provide coverage in the event of death for those in dire circumstances.
There are two primary types of no medical life insurance: simplified issue life insurance and guaranteed issue life insurance.
Simplified Issue Life Insurance
As a type of no medical insurance, Simplified Issue Life Insurance has no physical examination, however, you will be required to answer a number of questions about your medical history and health condition. This type of life insurance is designed for individuals who desire a quick approval and underwriting period. In certain instances, you can be insured in a matter of days, as opposed to weeks or months. Depending on the insurer, simplified life insurance can be purchased as either a term or permanent policy. This type of life insurance is ideal for those who do not wish to undergo a medical exam, are unsure of the type of policy for which they qualify, or who need life insurance quickly.
Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance
Guaranteed issue life insurance does not require a physical examination or a health and medical history questionnaire. As implied by the name, your coverage is guaranteed. Similarly to simplified life insurance, this coverage can be obtained quickly, and you won’t have to wait a long time or worry about not being accepted. Unfortunately, this is accompanied by increased premiums and diminished coverage. This is due to the high risk involved with providing insurance to those seeking it. There may also be a delay in receiving the money. This type of life insurance is ideal for those who do not qualify for anything else, or for those who wish to provide their loved ones with at least a small death benefit.
Working with an expert insurance broker can help you receive the greatest pricing and coverage available for your case because different insurance companies evaluate cancer insurance differently. Our insurance experts can help you get a life insurance quotation from one of roughly 30 Canadian life insurers.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Life Insurance for Breast Cancer Patients and Survivors
Yes! Even if you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer you can obtain coverage. If you’ve been denied traditional coverage there are some other options available such as no-medical life insurance. These policies do not require a medical examination. Some don’t even require you to fill out a health questionnaire. However, keep in mind that no medical guaranteed issue policies are costly and payouts are typically capped at $50,000.
Do not worry if you’ve been declined coverage. You can still get life insurance through a guaranteed issue policy even if an insurer rejected your application for traditional or simplified policies.
It is essential to differentiate between cancer life insurance and cancer insurance, as these are two entirely distinct products. Cancer life insurance is a product designed exclusively for cancer patients and cancer survivors. It covers cancer-related deaths but has higher premiums than traditional life insurance. Critical illness insurance is simplified into cancer insurance. It pays a lump sum if the insured is diagnosed with cancer according to the terms of the policy. The lump sum is exempt from taxation and may be utilized however the beneficiary chooses.
No. If your health changes, your insurer cannot cancel your policy or increase your premiums. However, if cancer is listed as an exclusion on your policy, your claim will be denied.
Most Canadian life insurance companies offer coverage to breast cancer patients. The coverage and cost of life insurance policies can vary significantly. Traditional life insurance and no medical life insurance are the two primary products. Traditional life insurance is more affordable than medically underwritten life insurance.
Traditional life insurance offers coverage of up to $5,000,000 or more, but is typically only available in cases where cancer was diagnosed at least 5 to 10 years ago and the policyholder’s health is stable. If the cancer was diagnosed less than two years ago, you have the best chance of being approved for no medical life insurance. Apply for simplified insurance if you can qualify by answering “no” to a few health-related questions truthfully, or for guaranteed insurance if you can qualify without providing any medical information. Brokers have access to numerous policies, allowing them to recommend the simplified or guaranteed application that best suits your needs.
Underwriting life insurance is the process of determining risk. Insurers consider your medical history, lifestyle, and habits, as well as your occupation, when determining the chance of paying out on your policy. Failing to provide accurate facts on your life insurance application or to a representative can result in a denial of your claim. However, regardless of where you are in your recovery, having to answer invasive questions about your disease can cause fear, anxiety, and other emotions you may have thought you had overcome. If this is the case, make sure you reach out to your loved ones for support as you go through your application.
Absolutely! Regular medical tests and screenings demonstrate to insurers that you are proactive about your health, which can be advantageous during the underwriting process. Also disclose any abnormalities revealed by prior mammograms to prevent future claim issues.
Finding the right life insurance policy for you
Although the underwriting process can be complicated, it is possible to obtain life insurance with a pre-existing condition such as breast cancer. A life insurance specialist can help you create the best plan and package for your needs.
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, Alberta, and British Columbia, including areas such as Oakville, Abbotsford, and Grande Prairie.