Trying to purchase a life insurance policy with a history of cancer can prove challenging, even if the cancer has been effectively treated and eliminated. Insurance companies price their life insurance based on a set of risk classifications, which are used to designate life expectancy. As an example, someone qualifying for a standard risk class would have a normal life expectancy, while someone who only qualifies for a substandard rate (also known as a table rating and designated with letters A-J or 1-10) has a shorter than normal life expectancy. Since the life expectancy is shorter for someone with a history of cancer, a table rating may be assigned and a higher premium charged.
Every life insurance company has different underwriting and some may be more favorable than others based on the same exact medical profile. There are several key items that insurance companies will look at to determine the risk rating assigned. Some of those items include:
1. Type of cancer – colon cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, melanoma, ovarian cancer, skin cancer, or other internal cancers.
2. Stage of cancer – Stage 0, Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, or Stage 4. Stage 0 is carcinoma in situ and means the cancer likely has not spread to other organs. Stages 1, 2, and 3 indicate more extensive disease with larger tumors or spreading. In Stage 4, the cancer has spread to other organs and life expectancy is usually very short.
3. If there was melanoma only, the “Clark Level” would be considered the same way the above stages are
4. Course of treatment – was chemotherapy or radiation involved? Surgery only (such as prostate removal)? Immunotherapy? Bone marrow transplant?
5. How long since the last date of treatment – cancer that was found and treated 5-10 years ago will be seen more favorably than cancer diagnosed only one year ago.
6. Any other health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, abnormal lab test results, etc.
I’ve had cancer, but my doctor says I’m in great health. Why can’t I get Preferred rates?
While your physician may feel that you are currently in excellent health and have made a strong recovery from cancer, insurance companies will still consider the cancer history as presenting a greater risk of future disease. When you look for life insurance quotes online or see them advertised on TV, the low rates quoted are usually the Preferred or Preferred Plus risk categories, which are unavailable to most people with any form of cancer history (with a few exceptions). Depending on the answers to the questions above, the “standard” risk class would be a starting point, and those rates may be adjusted based on the “table rating” assigned.
Shouldn’t I just apply to a few insurance companies that advertise the best rates and see what happens?
NO! If you were in absolute perfect health, applying for the company that advertises the lowest rates may be a good idea. With a history of cancer, you can throw the advertised rates out the window. What you need to find out is what is the REAL rate you would realistically expect to pay if the policy was approved.
If you have been declined by one or more life insurance companies, you are greatly damaging your prospects for being approved by another one at some point. The more companies that decline you, the more likely it is that you will look like a bad risk to any underwriter. Think about it from the underwriter’s point of view – if two or three other people have already rejected this person, why were they rejected so many times? You don’t want to throw mud on the mall just to see what sticks.
So how can I found out which companies will accept me for life insurance?
The best way to obtain life insurance is with the help of an independent agent that represents many of the top insurance companies. They will be able to shop your full medical history for the best possible offer BEFORE you ever apply for anything. That way, you know what the most likely outcome will be before ever starting the process of filling out formal paperwork. Not only that, but there is no charges or fees for using the help of an agent (agents are paid by the companies). The insurance cost is exactly the same as if purchasing directly from the company. By law, the insurance company cannot charge you less for applying directly.
Where can I find honest, accurate quotes for life insurance with a cancer history?
There are thousands of internet web sites that will offer you a “free” quote. As with most things in life, nothing is truly free. Many of them will sell your information to other websites that will have your phone ringing off the hook for days. TermInsuranceBrokers.com will NEVER sell your information to anyone else. We have over 30 years experience and specialize in high risk life insurance cases. Just click on the “Get an Instant Life Insurance Quote Now” button at the bottom of the page to get started, or you can give us a call toll-free at 1-888-972-0024 and we can answer any questions you might have. You can also CLICK HERE to e-mail us 24 hours a day.