Claire Smith Last Updated On: June 27, 2023

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Can You Get Life Insurance with Cancer?

old woman with cancer is sitting wheelchair

Nobody ever wants to think about getting sick, especially with something as serious as cancer, but unfortunately, it happens. However, with all the advancements in medicine and an uptick in cancer survival rates, you can still get life insurance, even if you’re receiving cancer treatments. So if you never got around to getting that life insurance coverage you kept meaning to buy, there’s no need to panic; you’re still eligible for life insurance.

You can also get life insurance after cancer or tweak an existing policy.

However, when you’re shopping around for insurance, your options may be limited depending on your cancer prognosis. Some of the things your provider will want to know to determine which life insurance policies you qualify for are:

  • Family History of Cancer: If you’re predisposed to developing certain cancers.
  • Past History with Cancer: If your cancer comes back, your rating will drop, meaning you’ll likely only qualify for term insurance, not your whole life. If you’re in remission and can answer all your underwriter’s questions with ease, with proof of claims, then you’ll qualify for traditional life insurance for cancer patients.
  • Cancer Type and Stage: Certain cancers and your prognosis will determine how insurable you are. When cancer is caught in the early stages (1 or 2), it’s much easier to beat and, therefore, more insurable, so you’ll qualify for better term policies or whole life.
  • Medical History: Cancer aside, your underwriter will want a detailed account of your medical history to assess your overall health prior to your cancer diagnosis.

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Life Insurance Options for Cancer Patients

If you’re looking into buying life insurance as a cancer patient, there are policies available to you — so there’s no need to stress; we’ve got you covered. Before you begin exploring your options, understand that your options are limited and largely depend upon your prognosis. If you have advanced cancer, you’re policy options are:
  • Guaranteed Issue: Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance is an expensive option that will cover the duration of your life and is readily available to those with cancer. The downside is you’re entitled to fewer benefits. But, there are limitations to guaranteed issue coverage, such as:
    • Death Benefit Limits: Since the qualifications for guaranteed issue coverage are lower, the death benefit payout is usually considerably less — on average, between $25,000-$50,000.
    • Waiting Period: Depending on the type of cancer you have, there is a 1-5 year waiting period to process and activate your account. Therefore, this isn’t a good option for terminal patients. If you pass away from cancer during the wait, your family will be reimbursed the premiums you paid with interest. If your death is an accident, your policy will pay your family the death benefit amount.
  • Group Life Insurance: Usually, your employer or organization you’re affiliated with offers life insurance. These policies are typically guaranteed to a fixed amount, don’t require a medical examination, and the cost is determined by age (not health). The other great thing about these policies is if you leave your job, your insurance plan will become permanent coverage.
  • Instant Approval: Like term insurance, if you need speedy life insurance, all you need to do is call and answer a few questions: age, height, weight, medical history, lifestyle habits, and address. The underwriter punches this into an algorithm and out pops your rate — it’s that easy.
For cancer patients with a good prognosis, you have more options available to you. However, these options are dependent on whether you’re currently receiving treatment and how treatable your cancer is. An example of this would be minor skin cancers, this type of cancer won’t increase your rates, but late-stage cancers would limit your insurance options. Insurance companies use a rating system to figure out your premium. The quick rule of thumb is the lower the rating, the more expensive your premium.
  • Preferred Plus: This rating is for the healthiest individuals or cancer survivors that have recovered from minor cancers, like non-melanoma skin cancer. Preferred Plus will result in a lower annual cost.
  • Preferred: For people in good health or those who’ve survived certain cancers like prostate or uterine (depends on the provider).
  • Standard: Most people fall into the Standard rating. Certain cancer patients will qualify, like if you have lung or benign tumors.
  • Substandard: For individuals with life-threatening conditions.

The Cost of Life Insurance for Cancer Patients

Life insurance is most cost-effective if you’re young and in good health, so life insurance with a cancer diagnosis is generally more expensive. Depending on your individual health, type of cancer, whether or not you’re in remission (and for how long), and more will impact the insurance quotes you’ll receive.

Overall, you can expect to pay 2-4 times more than a healthy individual would pay, but the cost can also be as much as 10 times the cost of life insurance for a young and healthy individual. However, there are always ways to save on health insurance, and life insurance for cancer patients is no exception. Some tips include:

  • Get multiple quotes and compare coverage
  • Wait until you’ve been in remission for five years before reaching out for quotes
  • Lower your risk in other categories, such as quitting smoking, losing weight, choosing a low-risk profession and avoiding risky hobbies like skydiving and mountain climbing

At the end of the day, the coverage and cost of life insurance need to make sense for you. If the cost of life insurance is too high, it may not be worth it for your needs.

Key Points: Life Insurance for Cancer Patients

Cancer is not necessarily a death sentence, but life insurance is a good way to make sure your family is provided for in the event anything should happen to you—cancer-related or not. Remember, you’re not locked into your policy for life: when you beat cancer and want different coverage, all you have to do is call your provider and adjust your coverage.

Life insurance is a wise idea for many people, but it needs to make sense financially and emotionally for each person. Life insurance for cancer patients is possible, but it can be a little harder to obtain and cost more. The bottom line is that you should try to purchase life insurance at your healthiest, but if that’s not possible, aim to compare multiple quotes before making your decision.

Life insurance should give you and your loved one peace of mind while fitting comfortably into your finances, and life insurance for cancer patients is no exception. 


I have cancer and would like life insurance. How do I know which policies I’m eligible for?

Good question, well the best thing for you to do is to give us a call, and we’ll walk you through all the life insurance policies available to you.

I’m in remission; how do I update my life insurance policy?

First of all, congratulations! If you’d like to explore your policy options, your best bet is to give us a call, and we’ll update your medical history with the good news and find you a new policy that fits your wishes.

Claire Smith Claire is a creative entrepreneur with a variety of marketing and content creation skills, including blog and web copy writing, research, and strategy. She has a Masters in Cultural Studies from Queen's University and is known for thinking laterally about marketing, based on her deep knowledge of people and behavior.

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