Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among men in Canada, and it may be devastating. If you are one of the numerous men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you may be concerned about your ability to obtain life insurance. 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, but the good news is that it is one of the most curable cancers and has an exceptionally high survival rate. In this article, we will provide an answer to questions on how to obtain life insurance after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Undoubtedly, being diagnosed with prostate cancer is life changing. As such, many men are worried about the uncertainties this diagnosis comes with. One worry is how will they be able to protect their family financially in the event that they need time off work for treatment or even if they pass away. Many seem to think that because of this diagnosis they won’t qualify for life insurance. A common question we get is, “can I get life insurance if I’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer or are a prostate cancer survivor?”
Yes! You can get life insurance even if you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer or are a prostate cancer survivor. While obtaining life insurance after prostate cancer is possible, you can anticipate paying more than you would without this diagnosis.
Overview of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is cancer of the prostate gland. In males, a tiny gland in the shape of a walnut generates the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. Cancer of the prostate is one of the most prevalent types of cancer. Numerous prostate cancers are slow-growing and are restricted to the prostate gland, where they may not be harmful. However, while some types of prostate cancer develop slowly and may require minimum or no therapy, others are aggressive and can rapidly spread.
Signs and Symptoms
- Difficulty urinating (starting or continuing)
- Persistent pain in the back, hips, or pelvis
- Urinating frequently, particularly at night
- Having blood in the urine or sperm
- Having issues getting an erection (erectile dysfunction or ED)
- Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, as well as loss of bladder or bowel control, may result from spinal cord compression caused by cancer.
- Age: As you age, your risk of developing prostate cancer increases. It is prevalent after age 50.
- Family history: If a parent, sibling, or kid in your immediate family has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, your risk may be enhanced. Additionally, if you have a family history of genes that raise the risk of breast cancer (BRCA1 or BRCA2) or a strong family history of breast cancer, your risk of prostate cancer may be increased.
- Race/ethnicity: African Americans and Caribbean men of African descent are more likely to get prostate cancer than men of other races. And when it does occur, these men are typically younger. Asian Americans and Hispanics/Latinos have a lower incidence of prostate cancer than non-Hispanic whites. It is unclear why these racial and ethnic distinctions exist.
- Gene alterations: Several inherited gene changes (mutations) appear to increase the risk of prostate cancer, but they likely account for a small proportion of all occurrences. For example:
- In some families, inherited mutations of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, which are associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers, can also raise the risk of prostate cancer in men.
- Lynch syndrome a disorder caused by inherited gene mutations, increases the risk for a variety of malignancies, including prostate cancer, in men.
What Impact Will Prostate Cancer Have on My Life Insurance?
Most high-risk life insurers will accept you for a policy if you are in remission or receiving successful treatment for cancer, but you will likely be charged a fee until you are cancer-free. In rare instances, under ideal conditions, you may be eligible for a standard rate.
Although the majority of prostate cancer patients assume they are ineligible for standard life insurance rates, many have discovered that, due to the effectiveness of new treatments, life insurance underwriters are more lenient and are providing policies with standard ratings.
Prostate Cancer and the Underwriting Process in Life Insurance
When applying for prostate cancer life insurance after a diagnosis the type of therapy, tumour stage, and tumour grade will determine if coverage is granted. The following characteristics will be considered by life insurance underwriters when establishing your eligibility for coverage:
- What was your age of diagnosis?
- Management (Radiation, Brachytherapy, Prostatectomy)
- Current PSA levels
- Gleason Score
The Gleason System assigns a score between 2 and 10 to the aggressiveness of a tumour. The higher the Gleason score, the greater the likelihood that a tumour may move beyond the gland to other organs. A Gleason score between 2 and 4 is deemed non-aggressive, but a Gleason score between 8 and 10 is deemed aggressive.
How Will Each Cancer Stage Affect My Eligibility for Life Insurance?
- If your diagnostics indicate stage 1 or 2, and your overall health is strong, you may qualify for preferred rates.
- In stage 3, you may still be eligible for life insurance, but you may have to wait longer following treatment.
- If you have stage 4 cancer, it will be difficult or impossible to obtain regular life insurance, and you may need to purchase a guaranteed issue life insurance policy from an insurance company.
What Age Were You When You Were Diagnosed?
If you were diagnosed with cancer before the age of 50, it is more aggressive. This signifies that the cancer has a greater potential to spread and can eventually be fatal. If you were diagnosed in your 40s, it would be considered an issue for the insurance underwriter, as a younger person with an illness that predominantly affects the elderly indicates that your overall health may be at risk.
Even if you overcome cancer, you may be obliged to wait longer before qualifying for standard coverage. If you are 50 or older, you may be required to wait one year. If you are younger than 50, you must wait five years.
What is the Gleason Score?
The lowest score is 1, which indicates that the tumour has limited growth probability. Additionally, the doctor may use numerous approaches to determine the score. It may be necessary to collect data in a modified manner to demonstrate the aggressiveness of the cancer if they collect a big number of cancer cells with a high grade.
The sample will be taken from the two sites where cancer is most prevalent. If the tissue appears relatively normal, they will assign a score of 1. If anomalous, they will receive a score of 5. If the tissue seems average, they will receive a score between 2 and 4.
The Gleason score is another key factor that the underwriter will consider. Derived from the pathology report, the Gleason score is a grading system. It helps the physician decide on a course of treatment and forecast a prognosis.
This grading method classifies malignant cells into five distinct patterns ranging from 1 to 5, with 1 representing low-grade tumour cells and 5 representing high-grade cells.
How High Was Your PSA Before Starting Therapy, and How Is It Now?
PSA, or prostate-specific antigen, is a protein secreted by prostate gland cells. A blood test can detect PSA, which is present in both normal and cancerous cells. If the PSA levels are too high, a biopsy may be necessary, and the doctor might base his or her treatment recommendation on those results.
A PSA level of 4.0 ng/mL or less is considered normal by most medical professionals. Life insurance premiums tend to correlate with PSA levels.
A current PSA below 0.1 is typically required by insurance companies. A recurrence of prostate cancer is often diagnosed if the PSA score is a certain threshold over zero.
Life Insurance for Prostate Cancer Patients/Survivors
If you have prostate cancer and are currently treating it, or you’ve recovered and are a survivor, you can still get find affordable life insurance as there are still options available to you, no matter the circumstance.
Term Life Insurance
If you qualify for term life insurance, it is typically the cheapest way to purchase coverage. You will likely be required to take a medical test for life insurance, so be prepared to answer questions about your cancer diagnosis and treatment history. With term life insurance, you lock in your premiums for a specific time period, such as 10 or 20 years.
Guaranteed Life Insurance
A guaranteed issue policy is life insurance that is not contingent on the applicant’s health and doesn’t require a medical exam. This means that you will be eligible to obtain life insurance even if you have previously been denied coverage. However, there are several disadvantages to consider before purchasing this sort of policy.
Numerous insurers that provide guaranteed issue life insurance have a maximum death benefit. Depending on your age, this ranges between $25,000 and $50,000 on average. If you pass away due to natural causes, your family will have to wait two or three years for the entire death benefit. However, the majority of insurance firms will pay a reward equal to the total premiums paid plus 5 to 10 percent.
Since the insurer cannot determine your health status, they will charge you a higher premium for life insurance. Although guaranteed issue life insurance has significant drawbacks, it is still preferable than asking your loved ones to cover your final needs.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Life Insurance with Prostate Cancer
It is possible to get life insurance if you have prostate cancer. However, the price and availability of life insurance may differ depending on the company.
Even if your life insurance application was turned down by an insurer, you could still acquire a guaranteed issue policy.
Life insurance companies look mainly at the following two factors:
- If the cancer is contained to the prostate, it is surgically removed, and the patient has been cancer-free for at least one year with a low Gleason score.
- If the cancer is restricted to the prostate, eradicated by radiation therapy, and the survivor has been cancer-free for at least one year with a low Gleason score.
Many insurers will not consider you for term life insurance until a few years have passed since your diagnosis or last treatment. There are solutions available, although some are more expensive than others, depending on your diagnosis, current health condition, and treatment history.
If you’ve been following your treatment plan and coming to the doctor for frequent checkups, your chances of obtaining coverage will increase. Before approving you for coverage, the majority of insurers will require that you have been cancer-free for at least five years, however the decision of each insurance company will depend on your specific situation.
If you have had cancer in the past, there are two primary types of life insurance policies accessible to you: term life and permanent life insurance. Term life insurance is the most common choice since it is simple, only lasts as long as you need it, and is less expensive than other coverage alternatives, such as permanent insurance.
In most cases, it is easier to obtain coverage after five years in remission, particularly if you have early-stage cancer. After five years, it is feasible to qualify for average rates if there are no other significant health issues.
Finding the right life insurance for you
If you have a prior medical issue such as prostate cancer and wish to purchase life insurance at the lowest possible rate, you will require the assistance of a professional, who can assist you in obtaining coverage so that your application is not denied. Protect Your Wealth will help you identify and find the coverage you need to create financial stability for you and your family should you require time off work or pass away.
If you’re not sure of what’s the best insurance plan or company for you, working with a life insurance specialist can help you find the best solution to fit your particular situation. At Protect Your Wealth, we’ve been providing expert advice for all types of life insurance since 2007. As your trusted Life Insurance broker and financial planner, we work with you to create a plan for your family or business that covers and meets your needs.
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 Markham, Kamloops, and Lethbridge.