Finding Stability

Buying Life Insurance After Cancer

Buying life insurance after cancer may help ease worries about your financial future.

A cancer diagnosis may leave you feeling financially vulnerable. Even when your cancer gets treated successfully, the what ifs of your financial future now feel more uncertain and immediate.

If you can afford it, getting a life insurance policy might put you at ease that your family and loved ones will be taken care of should your cancer come back. If you don’t already have life insurance, you may worry that you no longer qualify.

Unless your cancer has metastasized, buying life insurance after cancer isn’t impossible. The Insurance Information Institute (III) and the Amercian Council of Life Insurers offer general tips on buying life insurance. Here’s what else you need to know about buying life insurance after a cancer diagnosis.

Expect to Wait

Whether or not you’ll be able to buy life insurance after cancer depends on how long you’ve been cancer-free. Individual policy life insurance providers will expect you to be in remission and done with treatment before they will issue a policy.

Depending on the provider, and the type of cancer, stage and treatment, expect to wait several months to several years after receiving no evidence of active disease (NEAD). The earlier your cancer stage when diagnosed, the less of a wait time for an insurer to issue a policy post-NEAD. Some cancers, such as non-melanoma skin cancer, are considered low risk and may not impact your ability to purchase life insurance at all, according to Insure.com, which offers life insurance tips for cancer survivors.

Expect to Pay More

In most cases, providers will add a flat fee onto your monthly premiums to reflect your cancer medical history.

The good news, Insure.com notes, is that some carriers now offer standard-rate policies for some cancer diagnoses, including breast, prostate, testicular and thyroid cancer.

Tap the Right Resources

Life insurance brokers known as impaired-risk specialists can help locate the best life insurance options. Insure.com offers more information on how to work with an impaired-risk specialist.

If you’re not able to get life insurance on your own, employers or professional organizations sometimes offer group life insurance plans. Group plans may not require that you meet certain health requirements or that you submit a medical exam.

Keep Your Employer Group Policy

Cancer treatments may have you questioning whether you can still work. If you have life insurance through an employer group plan and leave your job, your group policy doesn’t come with you. But there’s a way to keep it.

According to III, your state may require your employer’s plan to allow you to convert your group policy into whole life insurance. You continue to pay the premiums and keep your coverage.

Mind the Details

If required to disclose your medical history, be upfront about your cancer. If a life insurance provider finds out you lied on an application, they can deny you coverage or contest a payout should you pass away during the policy term.

As with any financial investment, do your homework. Before purchasing a life insurance policy, check the provider’s financial strength through one of the five ratings agencies, listed by the III. You want to ensure the plan you chose can actually pay out.

Financial resources for cancer patients don't end once your treatment is over. If you have questions, a UVA financial coordinator can help.

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Rita Colorito