What You Can Expect To Be Asked
First off, be forthcoming with a potential carrier. Any misrepresentation of your medical history could result in the nullification of your policy and a rejected claim down the road. Don’t waste money on premiums only later to have a claim denied by the discovery that there was an omission in your history.
Some questions you can anticipate:
1. What was the date of you first treatment?
An insurance company will be interested in the initial date of your treatment because certain treatments last for months while others might continue for years.
2. Type of cancer?
According to the National Cancer Institute, there are more than 100 types of cancer and your type will be weighed according to risk, despite how harsh that sounds. Obviously, higher risk will result in a higher cost or possible rejection.
3. Current stage of cancer?
If you have cancer or you’ve survived cancer, you are well-aware of the various stages of cancer. The likelihood of attaining a policy and the cost of your premium will be dictated by the stage of your cancer, rated in Roman Alphanumerical sequence: Stage 0 (carcinoma in situ, meaning there is no cancer and no lymph node involvement, only localized abnormal cells with the potential to become cancer) through Stage IV (cancer has spread, or metastasized, to other areas or organs of the body. Also referred to as metastatic cancer). Again, the higher the stage, the higher the risk, and it becomes increasingly more difficult to acquire traditional or term life insurance. There are still options, however, with guaranteed issue life insurance with no exam options.
4. What type of treatment have you undergone?
If you have completed treatment, it is far more likely you will qualify for term life insurance. However, if you are currently undergoing treatment, you may be limited to a guaranteed issue policy.
5. Date of your last treatment?
This is important and will require some patience on your part because the date of your last treatment will determine how long you will need to wait to be considered for insurance. Here are some examples:
6. What is your remission status?
If you are in remission, when did you go into remission and what is your prognosis?
7. Have you experienced any recurrences?
If you’ve had a recurrence, a carrier will want to know all the details about your recurrence and the prognosis. Any recurrence will generally lead to a decline so you want to also look at accidental coverage or guaranteed issue final expense coverage.
How To Find Coverage As A Cancer Survivor
You’ve survived cancer much to the delight of you and your family and while this is a huge relief, you still want your family cared for with life insurance. There are certain policies designed specifically for cancer survivors however, you will need to meet certain criteria:
- You have been in remission and time has passed since your last treatment. As outlined above, the amount of time you can expect to wait varies based on the type of cancer you’ve survived. Insurers want to be sure the cancer is behind you and you continue down the road to good health. As a general rule of thumb, carriers want you to be at least 1 year past any cancer treatment to qualify for fully underwritten coverage.
- Be in good health, as is the requirement for all life insurance applicants but this is especially necessary for cancer survivors. Follow up regularly as recommended with your doctor. Carriers want to know you’re taking care of yourself and additional health issues will only adversely affect your application for coverage and definitely affect your premiums.
Make sure you get quotes from some of the best life insurance carriers and always get more than one quote. Be prepared when you apply. Make sure all your medical records are in order which will speed the application process and give the carrier a detailed profile of who you are and your medical history. If you have trouble landing an affordable policy, inquire with your employer about group life insurance.
You might also consider a graded policy which allows for graded benefits during the first few years of coverage. The company pays the premiums and only partial benefits of the policy if the individual dies from a preexisting condition like cancer. Once you’re graded in, based on a predetermined amount of time, you’ll receive full policy benefits.
A guaranteed issue final expense policy works in a similar way. It is graded for the first 3 years, meaning if you pass during that time your beneficiary only receives the premiums paid in to the policy to date, plus 5-10% interest depending on the carrier.
How To Find Coverage Living With Cancer
The type of life insurance coverage for which you’ll qualify will be wholly dependent upon the curability and stage of your cancer. If you are in Stage III or Stage IV and the cancer has metastasized, it’s likely that the only plan available to you will be a guaranteed issue life insurance policy, also referred to as the graded death benefits plan. Unfortunately, this tends to be an expensive policy yet you will not be required to submit your medical records or to do an exam. These policies tend to be relatively small (with maximum benefits between $25,000 and $50,000) and intended to cover final expenses if you pass.
If you are terminal and don’t expect to live more than two or three years, avoid guaranteed issue life insurance policies that have a waiting period. A death benefit will not be paid to beneficiaries during a waiting period, the carrier would only return the premiums plus interest. Look for alternatives such as group life or accidental death benefit policies.
For far less severe forms of cancer such as non-melanoma skin cancer, considered very low risk by insurers, premiums may not be affected at all. Again, your type of cancer and its severity will be the determining factor. Your carrier may add a surcharge or a temporary “flat extra” which will be removed after a determined period of time.
Surviving cancer and living with cancer are monumental life events. Attaining the proper life insurance coverage can be complicated and frustrating. If you have any questions or wish to discuss your options, give Leap Life’s life insurance team a call at (844) 755-5327.