Contrary to popular belief, life insurance after cancer is possible, and often at a more reasonable price than one would expect. Too many cancer survivors are living under the illusion that they’re uninsurable, so take the time to learn about your options.
We’re not delusional—there are of course certain challenges associated with finding a life insurance plan that are unique to cancer survivors. For instance, the length of time you’ve been in remission is important, so depending on the type of cancer you had, you may have to wait a few years to apply. But finding a suitable life insurance policy is not out of your reach, so follow these tips and keep searching.
GATHER ALL MEDICAL RECORDS IN ONE, ORGANIZED PLACE
Once it is time to apply, you’ll need to gather a detailed medical history for yourself to prove to insurance companies that you followed the correct treatment, and that you’re no longer a high-risk. Going in organized is key, because the longer it takes to find all of your medical records the more likely it is that you’ll just be dismissed as a high-risk case.
However, if you have everything from your initial pathology report to the results of follow-up appointments, you’ll have a much better chance of being considered because you can show insurance companies that your medical situation was not as serious as they otherwise might have assumed.
Be Familiar with the SEER Database
The National Cancer Institute’s SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) Database provides the information from which most insurance companies base their decisions. It has anonymous data on millions of cancer patients, so look for people with a similar diagnosis to your own and see what insurance companies will assume of you. In some cases, there’s still nothing you can do, but sometimes knowing what insurers are thinking can give you an advantage.
LOOK AT “GRADED” POLICIES
In a graded life insurance policy, the death benefits increase as you get older. This means that if the insured person died in the first few years of the plan, the insurance company would be responsible for much less—but if they insured person lives past the period specified in the policy, then the company must pay the full amount. Insurance companies are more likely to agree to this because if your cancer were to return in the next few years, it puts them at less of a risk. Of course no one wants to consider this possibility, and it seems rather morbid to even talk about, but it’s important to look at all of the available options without being clouded by emotions.
CONSIDER WHICH TYPE OF CANCER YOU FACED
Most skin cancers (other than melanoma) are considered relatively low risk by insurance companies after they’ve been treated, and you can probably expect a standard rate. This is also true for those with treatable forms of breast cancer, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, or thyroid cancer that were isolated to one location.
Leukemia, colon cancer, melanoma, or anything that has metastasized throughout the body presents a more challenging situation.
REMEMBER: YOUR PREMIUM CAN GO DOWN
Those who have recently recovered from cancer, or who suffered from a “riskier” type of cancer may find that the only insurance policies available to them have astoundingly high premiums. One strategy to avoid this is simply to wait until you’ve been in remission for a longer period of time—but if you want to get a life insurance policy now, know that your premiums can decrease as you continue to live cancer-free. Be sure to look into specific policy details concerning this.
Remember, don’t get discouraged. Even if you’ve been rejected in the past, most people who have been in remission for a few years can easily find a plan that works for them. The difficult part was making it through your cancer, not getting reasonable life insurance afterwards.