Life insurance after cancer – what you need to know

cancer diagnosis
By Bob Atoo
June 2, 2015

Without question or hesitation, being diagnosed with cancer will be one of the most difficult, traumatic and challenging realisations that anyone will ever have to face – and attempt to come to terms with – in their lives. That is a given. And naturally enough one of the last things on anyone’s mind after receiving a diagnosis of this gravity will be the subject of life insurance.

However, at some juncture in the aftermath of receiving such emotionally distressing and tumultuous news, thoughts will inevitably turn to life insurance and just how an existing or any future policy will be potentially impinged by declaring that you are battling cancer at the proposal or renewal stage.

Thankfully the good news is that there are plenty of options available and no door is ever slammed shut in the face of cancer patients seeking to arrange new or perpetuate existing life insurance policies.

It’s simply a matter of tailoring future policy agreements to the individual, largely based on the type of cancer from which they are/have been suffering from, the stage at which it’s currently at, and how it might affect them in the medium to long term.

After requesting the patient’s permission, insurance providers will normally approach the consultant/hospital dealing with the patient to ascertain the staging classification in direct relation to the cancer and ask for access to the patient’s medical records – which is a widely acknowledged and accepted level of protocol.

Essentially the insurers are duty-bound to base their assessment on both factual and relevant information as gathered from a reliable source.

It’s also common practice to request that the cancer patient undergoes a medical examination prior to any life insurance policy being drawn up.

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Life insurance providers historically deal with cancer patients with a strong sense of empathy

When it comes to arranging new life insurance policies for cancer patients – and with regards to the majority of cancer types – insurance providers rarely agree to issue a new policy until a generally-accepted period of 2 – 3 years have passed, amounting to the average time required to determine whether the patient is still considered to be in remission or has staged a full recovery according to medical experts.

Understandably, when patients are afforded the green light in terms of a life insurance policy being issued, patients should expect the initial premiums to be high; due to the insurers being of the statistically-supported opinion that the immediate passage of time following the receiving of an all-clear for cancer survivors is also seen as the period still posing the greatest risk.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the longer time pans out in the direct aftermath of beating cancer, the lower the perceived risk of the cancer returning in not just the eyes of the medical profession but those parties in a position to offer life insurance too.

Again, we would always advise speaking with life insurance provider (or a selection of potential life insurers) to discuss your individual case and requirements who are best placed to explain just how all policy elements and conditions could affect the would-be policyholder.

Incidentally, we’d like to draw your attention to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) which covers in detail and upholds the best interests of current cancer patients as well as those who’ve made a full recovery, in terms of their consumer rights as well as ethical ones.

Life insurance premiums will temporarily increase after cancer diagnosis

Concluding on the topic of seeing out the term of an existing life insurance agreement and/or the renewing of a pre-determined one if in the intervening 12 months you have been diagnosed with cancer, and your present insurance provider should continue to honour the agreement without condition; providing you were honest and upfront about your medical history prior to the policy being activated.

Having said that, you may find it problematic if you were to attempt to increase the value of your policy for some years thereafter admitting a cancer status. However for the most part it’s typically more straight-forward and hassle-free to maintain an existing life insurance policy than try and instigate a new one post-cancer diagnosis.

Elsewhere, and ‘special event options’ are made available by some life insurance providers, which effectively allows the cancer patient or recovered cancer patient to increase the cover with no additional underwriting, subject to certain life events occurring such as the birth of a child, marriage or moving house.

Other optional extras cancer patients seeking life insurance should be made aware of are additional features included in some life insurance policies which pay out a lump sum, if for example the policyholder contracts one of the illnesses which is mentioned in the policy from the outset. For those who acknowledge that cancer runs in a family this could prove to be invaluable information.

Again, it’s imperative that you speak with life insurance experts who will furnish you with all the key information concerning your personal requirements and the level of underwriting best for the individual.

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