Life Insurance

Securing Life Insurance for Cancer Patients: Essential Insights

Ethos Life | Jun 17, 2024
life insurance for cancer patients

The information and content provided herein is for informational purposes only, and it is not to be considered legal, tax, investment, or financial advice, recommendation, or endorsement. You should consult with an attorney or other professional to determine what may be best for your individual needs.

Life insurance can help offer peace of mind and financial security for your loved ones in the event of your passing. For cancer patients who have a higher risk of death at a younger age, securing life insurance can be particularly challenging. The good news is that it’s not impossible.

Understanding the available options, potential challenges, and additional measures for financial protection as a cancer patient can help you make informed decisions during a difficult time.

Here’s what you need to know about cancer and life insurance.

If you have cancer can you get life insurance?

Yes, it is possible to obtain life insurance if you have cancer, but the process can be more complex compared to those without a pre-existing condition. The availability of life insurance and the terms of coverage depend on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, your overall health, and the specific policies of the insurance company.

Coverage Options for Cancer Patients

Simplified Issue Life Insurance

Perhaps the best route to go if you have cancer is a no medical exam life insurance policy, sometimes called simplified issue life insurance. This option involves a brief health questionnaire but no medical exam. It may offer higher coverage limits than guaranteed issue policies (more on that below). Acceptance may not be guaranteed depending on the insurance carrier, however, especially for those with advanced cancer.

Still, no medical exam life insurance can be a viable option for many cancer patients. Whether it is the best choice for you depends on your individual circumstances. Here's a detailed look at the pros and cons to help you decide if this type of policy is right for you:

Pros of no medical exam life insurance

  1. Accessibility: For cancer patients, no medical exam life insurance is often more accessible than traditional life insurance policies that require a detailed medical evaluation. This is especially beneficial for those currently undergoing treatment or who have received a recent diagnosis.
  2. Quick approval: These policies typically have a faster approval process since there is no need to wait for medical exam results. This can be crucial for individuals seeking immediate coverage.
  3. Guaranteed acceptance: Some no-medical exam policies offer guaranteed acceptance regardless of health status. This ensures that individuals with cancer can secure some form of coverage.

Cons of No Medical Exam Life Insurance

  1. Higher premiums: No medical exam policies usually come with higher premiums compared to traditional policies. This is because insurers assume greater risk when there is no medical evaluation.
  2. Lower coverage limits: The death benefit offered by no medical exam policies is often lower than that of traditional policies. This might not provide sufficient financial protection for your beneficiaries, although a lower coverage amount is still better than no coverage at all.
  3. Graded death benefits: Some policies may include graded death benefits. This means if the policyholder dies within a certain period (typically two to three years) from a non-accidental cause, the beneficiaries receive only a portion of the death benefit or a return of premiums paid, rather than the full amount.
  4. Limited options: The variety of no-medical exam policies may be limited, restricting your choices in terms of policy type and additional features or riders.

Other life insurance for those with cancer

Guaranteed issue life insurance: This type of policy does not require a medical exam or health questionnaire, making it accessible to individuals with serious health conditions, including cancer. However, it often comes with higher premiums and lower coverage limits.

Group life insurance: Some employers offer group life insurance as part of their benefits package, which may not require medical underwriting. If available, this can be a viable option for cancer patients.

Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance: This type of coverage pays out benefits in the event of accidental death or serious injury. While it does not cover death due to cancer, it can provide an additional layer of protection should a premature death happen for other reasons.

Term life insurance: For cancer patients in remission or those with a good prognosis, term life insurance might be an option. Insurers may offer coverage after a certain period of remission, typically ranging from two to 10 years.

Challenges in securing life insurance for people with cancer

If you’re going through cancer treatment, you’re already under a lot of stress, so you don’t want to add financial worries on top of it. Being able to open a life insurance policy can help you keep the focus on getting well. That said, life insurance for cancer sufferers may require jumping through a couple of additional hoops.

Because cancer patients are considered high-risk by insurers, it may mean having to pay significantly higher premiums compared to individuals without health issues. Coverage options may also be limited in terms of the benefit amount and policy type. And with some types of policies, particularly guaranteed issue life insurance, there is typically a waiting period (usually two years) during which the full death benefit is not paid out if the insured passes away due to natural causes, including cancer.

Finally, some insurers may require detailed medical information and may deny coverage based on the severity and type of cancer.

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What you need to know about life insurance for cancer sufferers

As you research life insurance for people with cancer, you’ll want to be diligent and make sure you get all the facts before you choose the best option.

  • Pay special attention to policy terms and conditions. This is true for anyone looking at life insurance options, but it’s especially important for people with conditions like cancer. In particular, look carefully at exclusions, waiting periods, and benefit amounts.
  • Compare quotes from multiple insurers. This can help you find the most favorable terms and premiums.
  • Consult with a financial advisor. Speak to someone who specializes in life insurance for high-risk individuals. They can provide valuable guidance and help you navigate the complexities of securing coverage.
  • Put your insurance needs in context with long-term plans.  Think about the long-term financial needs of your beneficiaries and how different policy options align with these needs.

Additional financial protection strategies

In addition to life insurance for people with cancer, there are some other products and strategies that help safeguard your finances in the midst of a chronic health issue.

  • Critical illness insurance: This type of policy provides a lump-sum payment upon diagnosis of a serious illness, including cancer. It can help cover medical expenses and provide financial support during treatment.
  • Disability insurance: If your ability to work is affected by cancer, disability insurance can provide income replacement, helping to maintain your financial stability.
  • Estate planning: Creating a comprehensive estate plan, including a will and possibly a trust, ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and can provide financial security for your loved ones.
  • Savings and investments: Building an emergency fund and investing in long-term financial instruments can offer additional security and support for your family.
  • Medical expense planning: Understanding your health insurance coverage and planning for out-of-pocket medical expenses can prevent financial strain.

Still young and healthy? It’s the perfect time to seek life insurance 

If you’re fortunate to be young and healthy, then it’s the perfect time to seek out life insurance. Many types of policies set insurance rates based on age, health, and other factors. You can easily get a $500,000 life insurance policy for an affordable rate if you set it up in your younger years. Here are some key reasons why securing life insurance early is advantageous:

  1. Lower premiums: Insurance premiums are largely determined by the risk you pose to the insurer. When you are young and healthy, you represent a lower risk, resulting in significantly lower premiums. By securing a policy when you're young, you can lock in these lower rates for the duration of the policy, potentially saving a substantial amount of money over time.

  2. Better insurability: At a younger age, you are less likely to have developed health conditions that could make it difficult or more expensive to get coverage. As you age, the likelihood of developing such conditions increases. That’s why younger individuals often face a simpler and faster approval process, with fewer medical examinations and less detailed health questionnaires.

  3. Financial security for dependents. If you plan to start a family, having life insurance in place helps to ensure financial security for your dependents in case of your untimely death. This can help cover expenses like childcare, education, and daily living costs. Life insurance can also help cover any outstanding debts, such as student loans, mortgages, or car loans, ensuring that your loved ones are not burdened financially.

  4. Investment and savings benefits: Certain types of life insurance policies, like whole life or universal life, accumulate cash value over time. Starting these policies young maximizes the growth potential of the cash value component, which can be borrowed against or withdrawn later in life. The cash value in a life insurance policy grows tax-deferred, providing a tax-efficient savings vehicle that can complement your retirement planning.

  5. Peace of mind: Knowing that you have a safety net in place between life insurance and social security can provide peace of mind. This financial protection can be a critical aspect of your overall financial plan, providing stability and security for you and your loved ones, regardless of what life may throw your way.

  6. Flexibility for future needs: Many term life insurance policies offer the option to convert to a permanent policy without a medical exam at a later date, giving you flexibility as your life circumstances change. Securing life insurance early may also allow you to add beneficial riders, such as disability income riders or critical illness riders, which can provide additional layers of financial protection.

  7. Avoiding future uncertainty: Health can change unexpectedly – just ask any cancer patient. By getting life insurance while you're healthy, you mitigate the risk of being unable to obtain coverage due to future health issues. Similarly, relying solely on employer-provided life insurance can be risky, as coverage is often not portable if you change jobs. Having your own policy ensures continuous coverage.

Cancer and life insurance are not mutually exclusive

While obtaining life insurance as a cancer patient poses challenges, it is feasible with the right approach and understanding of your options. By exploring various types of policies, comparing insurers, and considering additional financial protection strategies, you can provide financial security for your loved ones despite the difficulties posed by a cancer diagnosis.

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