Life insurance for cancer patients

If you have recently been diagnosed with cancer, your life insurance options may be limited, but you may be able to find some coverage.

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Does life insurance cover cancer?

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and you already have coverage, nothing will change. A life insurance policy can’t be canceled if you have cancer. As long as you continue to pay the premiums, your policy will stay in effect, and your loved ones will receive the death benefit.

But if you’re looking to buy a new life insurance policy and have been diagnosed with cancer, either recently or in the past, you will likely run into some obstacles.


How life insurance works for people with cancer

Once you have life insurance in place, it will continue as long as you pay your premiums. Your life insurance policy will provide a generally tax-free benefit to the beneficiaries you choose after you pass away. The type of life insurance policy, the amount of coverage, your age, and your overall health will affect the premium amount. Life insurance is an important tool to ensure that your loved ones have what they need to cover funeral costs, pay off debts, and replace some of the income that would be lost in the event of your death.


What if you purchased life insurance before cancer was diagnosed?

If you already have a life insurance policy and are diagnosed with cancer, your coverage won't be affected. Your existing policy will remain in effect as long as premiums are paid, so it's crucial to stay on top of your payments.


Can you get life insurance if you have cancer?

You may not qualify for as much coverage as you’d like, and your premiums are likely to be higher than they would have been before your diagnosis. But it’s still possible to get some protection for your family. Be completely honest about your health when applying for life insurance, or you’ll run the risk of your family being denied the death benefit. Most insurance companies will assess your condition based on several factors:

  • Type and stage of cancer: This will greatly influence your eligibility for coverage. Some types of cancer are lower risk than others.
  • Treatment and medical history: Insurance providers will want to know about your treatment plan, your response to treatment, and your overall medical history.
  • Time since diagnosis: Some insurers require a cancer survivor to be in remission for a certain length of time before they offer coverage.
  • Age and other health factors: Other health factors and your age could impact your options.


Life insurance for cancer patients in remission

If you're a cancer survivor in remission, you can typically find life insurance options. Insurance companies often require a certain period of remission, usually ranging from one to five years, before they consider offering you coverage. They want to see that your cancer has not returned and that your overall health is stable.

You’ll need to provide detailed medical records and reports to the insurer, showcasing your remission period and your oncologist's assessments. The longer you've been in remission, the better your chances of securing affordable coverage.


Life insurance with preexisting cancer

If you're currently undergoing treatment or have a preexisting cancer diagnosis, obtaining life insurance will be more challenging. It's not impossible, however.


Life insurance for stage 4 cancer patients

For individuals with terminal or stage 4 cancer, obtaining traditional life insurance will be extremely difficult. You may be limited to small guaranteed-issue policies like final expense insurance, and your premiums may be nearly equal to the death benefit.


Current cancer patient life insurance options

No matter what stage of cancer and recovery you are in, there are different types of life insurance policies that could fit your needs. Not all of them will apply to your situation, but understanding your options will help you identify the right policy for you.


Term and whole life insurance

Traditional term and whole life policies are typically for people in good health. If you have an active cancer diagnosis, these types of policies may be prohibitively expensive—if you can get coverage at all. Once your cancer has been in remission for a certain amount of time, many insurers will reconsider your case, and you may be able to find options.


Life insurance without a medical exam for people with cancer

There are a couple of different no-exam life insurance options that will not require you to take a medical exam. But they often come with lower coverage amounts and potentially higher premiums. Cancer patients who can’t qualify for traditional policies may be satisfied with this trade-off.


Life insurance riders for cancer patients

If you already have life insurance, you might want to check if you have a rider that can help with cancer-related expenses. Common riders include critical illness riders or accelerated death benefit riders. These can be valuable for individuals with cancer, as they provide financial support for medical costs and/or living expenses during a critical illness.


Final expense life insurance

Final expense insurance, also known as burial insurance, is a type of whole life insurance designed to cover end-of-life expenses, such as funeral costs and medical bills. Those expenses can often cost more than $10,000, so a small policy can really help your family during a difficult time. It's easier to qualify for this insurance, making it an option for those with preexisting conditions.


Life insurance and cancer FAQs

No. If you already have a policy in place and pay your premiums when they are due, your coverage will continue.

It's very difficult, but it’s not impossible. There are options to secure coverage without a medical exam or to purchase a modest policy for final expenses.

You can get life insurance even while you are in treatment, although your options could be limited. For traditional policies, you may have to wait until you’re in remission. The length of the remission period depends on the insurance company, the type of cancer, and other factors. Often, it’s somewhere between one and five years after you become cancer-free.


Discuss your life insurance options with a financial professional.

We can answer all your questions and help determine the best way to get you the coverage you and your family deserve.

New York Life Insurance Company (NY, NY)