I have cancer, what type of life insurance can I get and why?

Purchasing life insurance for cancer-afflicted patients is complicated since it depends on several factors considered by insurance companies. These insurability factors include:

  1. The type and location of the cancer
  2. The stage of cancer
  3. The curability of cancer

Insurance companies consider the type of cancer, its location and its stage to determine whether a policy will be issued. Usually, when you apply for life insurance, the insurance company will ask for medical reports from your doctor to find out all about his/her diagnosis for your condition. The insurer may also request a medical checkup before deciding to give you coverage. However, you will be denied life insurance coverage if you are already undergoing cancer treatment, so it is best to get a policy as quickly as possible.

Typically, insurance companies are hesitant to insure individuals who have recently recovered from cancer, fearing that the cancerous tumor may return. Some insurance companies may decide to give you life insurance with an added surcharge (also known as temporary flat extras) for two to five years, depending on the individual’s cancer and the treatment. After the surcharge period is over, normal rates will apply. However, even if you are accepted, the life insurer will charge higher premiums to compensate for the elevated amount of risks associated with cancer.

Often, applicants with treatable forms of cancer such as testicular, prostate, thyroid and breast may be able to obtain standard rated coverage under the best conditions. In contrast, individuals having a history of colon cancer or leukemia fall in the substandard or even high substandard categories which may result in denied coverage. When cancer cells metastasize, i.e. spread to other parts of the body, the applicant stands no chance in getting a policy.

If you cannot get life insurance with full death benefits, you can consider a graded policy where the death benefits increase as you grow older. Upon death due to cancer or any such listed pre-existing medical illness in the first few years of a graded policy, the life insurer will pay only the premiums and part of the face value amount. However, if the insured dies after the specific grading-in period is over, the company is liable to pay the full face value of the policy. Whatever policy you decide to take, go through the full description of the policy carefully to make sure you understand the benefits and policy limitations.

Insurance agents can help you shop around for companies that sell policies specifically for people in this scenario, but there are also brokers who focus on finding life insurance options for people suffering from all other terminal illnesses or diseases. If you cannot afford life insurance on your own, you might also want to try to get group life insurance through your employer if this is available for you.

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