Life Insurance for Cancer Patients and Survivors

Talk to one of our experienced advisors, today!

16 minute read
Originally published: June 3, 2022
Updated: June 5, 2023

Life insurance for cancer patients and survivors

Life Insurance for Cancer Patients and Survivors

Talk to one of our experienced advisors today!

16 Minute read

Originally published: June 3, 2022
Updated: June 5, 2023


Life insurance for cancer patients and survivors

If you have cancer or have survived cancer, it may be challenging to find an insurer that will accept and cover your needs. Your prognosis, type of cancer, and how long it’s been since you’ve been diagnosed with cancer are all factors insurance companies will consider when determining your coverage options. It may seem challenging but it is still possible to get the right coverage at an affordable rate. 

When we get new clients who have recently been diagnosed with cancer or who have recently recovered from cancer, they are typically anxious that they will be denied coverage immediately or that their rates would be too expensive for them to afford. A common question is “Can I get life insurance if I have cancer or am a cancer survivor?”

You can get life insurance if you are a cancer patient or survivor

The answer is yes, you can get life insurance if you have currently have cancer or are a survivor of cancer.

Life Insurance and Cancer

From the point of view of insurance companies, life insurance is all about risk and the ability to analyze the uncertainty that is linked with different sorts of applicants.

Did you know that cancer is a leading cause of death in Canada

When it comes to the possibility of being affected by cancer, insurance companies have to take into consideration the following data provided by the Canadian Cancer Society:

  • In Canada, cancer is the leading cause of death, accounting for one in every three deaths. This is 28.2% of all deaths.
  • An estimated 233,900 new cancer cases and 85,100 cancer deaths are expected in Canada in 2022.
  • Every day, on average, 641 Canadians would be diagnosed with cancer.
  • Cancer is a disease that primarily affects Canadians in their 50s and 60s, although it can strike anyone at any age.

Is cancer covered by life insurance?

Life insurance will cover newly diagnosed cancer if you are a policyholder who revealed your health situation when applying for life insurance and the policy has been approved. Your insurance provider may deny coverage or claims if you gave false information to them. For example, no information about being diagnosed with cancer or being a cancer survivor.

Please keep in mind that depending on your diagnosis and progression, certain types of life insurance are easier (or harder) to obtain. Traditional life insurance will include a lengthy questionnaire with a number of cancer-related questions. Life insurance with a simplified issue will just ask you one or two questions about your cancer risk. Because there is no questionnaire with guaranteed issue life insurance, there will be no questions. A two-year waiting period is required for guaranteed issue life insurance.

Guaranteed issue is a perfect policy if you have cancer but have a good prognosis and do not expect to pass within two years. You may be turned down for traditional or simplified issue life insurance, but regardless of your health, you can get guaranteed issue life insurance. If things go wrong and you pass away within that two-year period, your claim will be denied, but your premiums will be reimbursed to your beneficiary.

Can you get life insurance if you have cancer or are a cancer survivor?

Yes, If you have cancer or have survived cancer, you can apply for life insurance. Even if you don’t have as many choices, getting insurance can help protect you and your family financially. Some policies are better for less serious cancers and others are better for more serious cancers. Your life insurance company will assess your case on an individual basis. Generally, the following outcomes can be expected: 

  • If you were diagnosed with cancer more than 10 years ago and have been stable since then, you may be able to get traditional life insurance at standard rates. This is similar to those who did not have any serious health issues.
  • If you were diagnosed with cancer 5–10 years ago and have been stable since then, you have a good chance of getting traditional life insurance and a rated policy. A higher insurance rate is applied but you can still benefit from other aspects of a traditional life insurance policy such as high coverage limits. 
  • If you were diagnosed with cancer 2–5 years ago and have been stable since then, you might be able to apply for rated traditional or simplified life insurance. Simplified insurance doesn’t require a medical exam and only has a short questionnaire. It also has higher rates and less coverage than traditional insurance.
  • If you were told you had cancer less than 2 years ago, you can get a simplified or guaranteed life insurance policy. Guaranteed life insurance doesn’t require a medical exam or a medical questionnaire, but it also has the highest rates and the least coverage of all the options. There is also a two-year waiting period. If the insured person dies within the first two years after the policy was issued, no claim is paid, but the premiums are returned to the beneficiary.

Life insurance with a family history of cancer

family history of cancer factors for life insurance

Your risk of developing cancer is increased if you come from a family with a history of the disease, but the degree to which it does so is dependent on the medical history of your family.

Typically, insurers are interested in knowing:

  1. The type of cancer that runs in your family.
  2. How many relatives have been diagnosed with cancer and how they are related to you.
  3. The age of your relative when they were given the diagnosis. If they were an older person, this will probably have less of an effect on your rates as compared to if they were a younger person.

How your type of cancer impacts life insurance

The type of cancer and how it progressed determines whether a cancer survivor is approved for insurance. Cancers that have metastasized, or spread to different parts of the body, are considered more dangerous and may result in rejection. You’d be considered a lower risk if the cancer was in-situ or localized.

Survivors of breast cancer, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and thyroid cancer are considered moderate-risk, but they frequently qualify for standard rates. Insurers will inquire about your diagnosis, treatment, and overall health, and the longer you’ve been in remission, the more likely you’ll be approved.

You may be eligible for life insurance if you have had another sort of cancer, such as melanoma or cervical cancer, or ovarian cancer, and have been in remission for several years. Leukemia, pancreatic cancer, and colon cancer are examples of cancers that are considered too dangerous to be covered by most life insurance plans in general. Survivors of one of these illnesses are almost never approved for traditional life insurance by insurance companies.

In most cases, you’ll still be able to apply for simplified or guaranteed issue life insurance coverage you were diagnosed with cancer.

What do insurance companies look for when you apply with cancer?

When acquiring life insurance, one of the most important qualifying factors is the amount of time that has passed after treatment for cancer. Before applying for life insurance again, you may be required to wait anywhere from two to five years from the conclusion of your treatment, depending on the insurer, the type of cancer, and the stage of the disease. If your cancer is in remission but you have more than one follow-up appointment every year, you may still be considered a patient who is actively having treatment even though your cancer is no longer actively spreading.

When you apply for a life insurance policy after being diagnosed with cancer, the insurance company will ask you a number of questions concerning your diagnosis and treatment, such as the following:

  • When you were diagnosed
  • The treatment you received, when they began, and when they ended
  • Your cancer’s location, size, and whether or not it had spread to your lymph nodes
  • If you have any family history of cancer
  • The type and stage of cancer you had and whether it metastasized
  • The treatments you underwent, when they began and your last treatment date
  • Any medications you’re currently taking
  • If you’ve had any relapses
  • Whether you’re in remission and, if so, for how long

How important is the amount of time that has passed since a cancer diagnosis?

Before considering to insure you, life insurance companies typically want to see that you’ve been cancer-free for a certain number of years. The length of time depends on the type of cancer. This also depends on the severity of the cancer. Less severe cancers have a general waiting period of 1-3 years. 

A history of cancer might make life insurance more expensive. It is essential to take advantage of the waiting period by making some health related adjustments such as removing bad habits such as smoking, and exercising to stay healthy. These can lower your rates when applying for life insurance. 

How can a cancer survivor acquire life insurance?

Cancer survivors are certainly still eligible for life insurance. The first is a fully underwritten traditional plan. With this sort of application, the underwriter examines your information and assesses if you will qualify for a basic policy or if you will be rejected.

You can also conduct a preliminary inquiry, though not all brokers would do so. It’s a casual question in which they ask the underwriter if you’re likely to be accepted, if you’ll get a rating, or if you’ll be turned down. You will probably not want to submit an application if it appears that you will be rejected or highly rated. Instead, you should consider a no medical policy, such as a simplified issue policy or a guaranteed issue policy.

Simplified issue plans do not require medical testing and instead, only ask a series of health questions; the more questions you can answer no to, the better.

Guaranteed issue policies don’t require any medical exams or a series of health questions, so you know you’ll be approved; nevertheless, the premiums are usually more and the coverage is less extensive. A two-year waiting period is always included with these insurance policies.

Even if you have battled cancer or another serious illness in the past, there is still a chance that you will be approved for life insurance in the future. At Protect Your Wealth, we can help you research several policies and choose which one offers the greatest number of advantages suited to your circumstances.

Using life insurance to pay for cancer treatment and costs

Cancer patients who already have an insurance policy may be able to use it to pay for medical bills or supplement their family’s income while they are still alive. If you can, it depends on the type of policy you have, your health, and if you added riders to your policy when you bought it.

  • You have the ability to access the cash value of a cash value life insurance policy, such as a whole life or universal life insurance policy, by either taking out a policy loan or surrendering the policy. If you surrender your life insurance policy, it is the same as canceling it in that you will no longer be covered by the policy and will no longer be required to pay premiums. In exchange, you will get the total cash value of the policy, minus any surrender fees that may be applicable.
  • If you’re terminally ill or in bad health, you might want to consider cashing in your life insurance policy. When you pass, the buyer assumes responsibility for paying your premiums in exchange for receiving the death benefit from your insurance. The majority of life insurance settlements are for permanent life insurance plans, but if you can show that you’re going to pass soon, you might be able to sell a term life insurance policy.
    Because the buyer pays a price between your policy’s cash value and its death benefit, life insurance settlements give a higher payoff while you’re still living than a policy loan or surrender. The amount of money you get in excess of the policy’s cash value, however, is determined by your health. For example, if you have terminal cancer and your doctor predicts that you’ll die within the year, you’ll get a higher price because the buyer is only likely to pay premiums for a limited time.
  • You may be able to use “living benefits” riders or policy add-ons on your life insurance policy to pay for medical expenses while you’re still alive. Every policy has its unique set of riders, so double-check your policy’s details, but an accelerated death benefit rider is one of the most frequent. If you’re terminally ill, or even if you’re chronically ill, you can use these to get the death benefit. However, the terms vary by insurer, so check to see if your cancer has progressed to the point where you can use any of your riders.

Best life insurance policies if you have cancer

Most term and whole life insurance policies are not available to cancer patients, and if you apply for coverage, you will be denied. Instead, you should either buy a limited-term guaranteed whole life insurance policy or group life insurance, which can be a guaranteed issue.

While both options are available to terminally ill cancer patients, it may be better to consider guaranteed issue life insurance policies with no waiting period, such as group life insurance. During the first two to three years of coverage, policies with a waiting period will not pay the death benefit to your beneficiaries. Your premiums may be wasted if you do not expect to live that long. Unfortunately, no-waiting-period guaranteed issue life insurance policies are not available to everyone. If you are unable to obtain coverage through your employer or an association, you may be unable to purchase a policy.

Guaranteed Life Insurance

These plans don’t ask any questions and don’t require any medical exams. Guaranteed issue insurance is type of permanent life insurance that is intended for people with serious health problems or who are older and do not qualify for traditional or simplified insurance. Many insurers will also offer a 24-month deferral period for guaranteed life acceptance insurance. Because it is also a type of permanent life insurance, guaranteed issue insurance coverage generally has a maximum of $50,000, with some insurers covering less, and has the highest premium of the three.

Group life insurance

Millions of Canadians are insured through their employer with group disability insurance or group life insurance policies. Thousands more opt to take coverage through their association plans, such as the Ontario Medical Insurance (OMA insurance) or Lawyers Financial (previously known as The Canadian Bar Insurance Association or CBIA).

If your employer or your spouse’s employer offers group life insurance policies, you may be able to purchase cancer coverage, as these are often guaranteed issue up to a certain amount of coverage. Higher levels of coverage, on the other hand, will require medical underwriting, so read the plan’s terms carefully.

Group life insurance quotes are higher than standard term life insurance quotes. Because premiums are primarily determined by your age rather than your health, cancer would not raise your rates with guaranteed issue coverage. If you leave your job later, such policies are usually convertible to permanent life insurance, so you won’t have to give up your coverage.

Traditional life insurance 

Traditional life insurance may still be an option if you’ve been in remission for more than five years. Term life insurance, which provides affordable coverage for 10 to 30 years. A medical exam may be required to help determine your rates for term life insurance. If you’d like to skip the medical exam, you should consider no medical life insurance

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Life Insurance for Cancer Patients and Survivors

Yes, even if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you can still apply for life insurance. Getting insurance can assist in protecting the financial well-being of both you and your family, despite the fact that you might not have as many options available to you. The longer the waiting period, the better rates you would be able to obtain.

There isn’t a specific sort of life insurance for cancer patients. Instead, many regular life insurance carriers will sell coverage to cancer patients, but getting accepted for life insurance is far more difficult owing to their health concerns. Patients are frequently restricted in the kind of life insurance they are eligible for and the quantity of coverage they can get.

Although getting life insurance after you’ve been diagnosed with cancer is certainly possible, it can still be challenging to find an insurer who will cover you and your condition. However, certain insurance companies will offer guaranteed issue life insurance polices for guaranteed approval, no matter the medical condition. 

After five years in remission, a cancer patient is usually called a cancer survivor. Most life insurance companies will approve any coverage with few limits once you have been treated. Survivors can buy life insurance from any insurer, but keep in mind that because cancer is considered a pre-existing condition, you will still pay a higher premium.

Because cancer patients are deemed high-risk, life insurance for them is frequently expensive. Patients with cancer may live shorter lives, increasing the risk that their insurance company may be required to pay a claim. The cost of life insurance for cancer patients varies depending on a number of variables, including age, gender, cancer type, prognosis, policy type, and coverage limit.

Life insurance companies normally pay out for death caused by any form of illness, including cancer, as long as your policy is active and you fulfill your policy rules. This is tax-free income that your family can spend on whatever they want. If you have a critical illness policy and you have been diagnosed with cancer, your insurer will provide the benefit, given that you survive their given survival period.

Based on the type of insurance policy you purchase, a previous cancer diagnosis in the family could affect your premiums with traditional life insurance, which asks you to disclose your family medical history.

The insurance provider may still ask health questions if you have a simplified issue, but it’s much less likely to affect your rate or eligibility. Guaranteed issue means that you will not be questioned, and as a result, you will be able to obtain coverage regardless of the medical history of your family.

Even if you get turned down, you still have options. The following are some options that are available to you:

  • Obtain estimates for life insurance from various insurance providers.
  • Think about getting other kinds of insurance, including guaranteed life or group life through your job or a professional organization. Both of these can be more affordable options.
  • Wait until the results of your remission tests, or until a sufficient amount of time has passed after your treatment. Several insurance companies require their policyholders to wait for a certain amount of time.

Contact us today! We can guide you through the application process and help you evaluate your available choices.

Finding the right life insurance policy for you

Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer or are a survivor of cancer you can still find affordable life insurance for any situation you may have. Working with a life insurance advisor can help you build the right life insurance plan and package for your needs and lifestyle.

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’ve been providing expert life insurance solutions since 2007, including no medical life 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 Windsor, Coquitlam, Kamloops, and Grande Prairie

Talk to an advisor today.

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