Can you get life insurance after cancer?

Yes, it's possible to get life insurance after suffering from cancer.

If you've had cancer in the past an insurer is likely to regard the illness as a pre-existing medical condition.

With over 200 types of cancer now prevalent in society, it’s predicted that one in two people will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime[1].

This highlights the growing need for life insurance to protect your loved ones financially should the worst happen, but many question whether they’ll be able to secure cover after a cancer diagnosis.

Thankfully, there are a number of insurers which offer policies to those who’ve previously had cancer.

However, if the type of cancer was of a certain severity or resulted in further medical complications, there’s the possibility you may be denied life insurance altogether.

Keep reading this in-depth guide to find out how a cancer diagnosis is likely to affect your ability to secure life cover…

Using an insurance broker with specialised staff, such as our impaired life insurance team, could help you to get covered.

Do I need to tell insurers about my cancer?

Yes, you’ll need to disclose a current or previous cancer diagnosis during the application process.

Failure to provide this information is known as non-disclosure and it can prevent a pay out from being made to your loved ones when the time comes.

The exception to this is an over 50s plan as you won’t be obligated to disclose any medical information with this type of cover.

If you already have life cover in place and are diagnosed with cancer during the term, you aren’t obligated to inform your insurer.

As long as all the information provided at the point of application was correct, your new diagnosis won’t have an impact on your current policy.

How long after cancer can you get life insurance?

Most insurers won't approve an application until a specified recovery period has passed. This is usually 2-3 years but can be as much as 5-10 years.

This means, if you apply for life insurance during this period, it's likely that you'll be denied, or at least the application will be postponed until the desired recovery period has been reached.

The length of the desired recovery period differs between insurers, so it's essential to shop around and find the cover which best suits you.

How much is life insurance after cancer?

The cost of life insurance premiums after cancer can be affected by a number of factors.

As well as standard information, such as:

  • Your age
  • Smoking status
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Policy details

You’ll also be required to provide information about your diagnosis, including:

  • Time since recovery
  • Type of cancer and grading, (if this is unknown, your insurer can obtain the information from your GP)
  • What type of treatment you had, how long you underwent it and whether it was successful
  • Full medical examination

The sooner you apply for life insurance after recovery, the higher your monthly life insurance premium is likely to be.

This is because the chance of recurrence becomes less as time goes on and therefore, you become less of a risk to the insurer over time.

The type and stage of your cancer, as well as the treatment you've received, also has a significant effect on the cost of your premium. This is to account for the likelihood of cancer returning.

It's highly likely that your insurer will want to obtain information from your consultant, as well as have you undergo a medical, prior to calculating your premium.

How much life insurance do you need?

Enter your financial commitments to understand the level of cover you require.

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£121,687 is the estimated average outstanding mortgage per household in the UK.

Our property is generally the largest financial commitment any of us will make.

Your life insurance should cover this significant debt should you no longer be around.

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According to Money Advice Service, full-time childcare in the UK now costs £242 a week.

The loss of a parent could result in the need for additional childcare whilst the surviving parent increases their hours to account for lost income.

Your life insurance cover should factor in this additional required outgoing.

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The average level of debt (minus a mortgage) in the UK is £15,385.

Factoring in any outstanding debts in your name when arranging life insurance ensures this burden is not passed to loved ones.

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You may wish to leave your loved ones an inheritance or lump sum gift upon your passing.

Factoring in the gift amount when arranging your cover will ensure the pay out amount will be sufficient to provide your loved ones with this selfless gesture.

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According to SunLife, the average cost of a UK funeral is now £4,417, whilst the total cost of dying is £9,493.

This is a 130% increase over the past 16 years and shows no signs of slowing down.

A significant cost which should be factored into the amount of life insurance you secure.

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If you are one of the 65% of the UK who are lucky enough to have savings, this could be used as protection if you were to pass away.

Any pay outs from existing life insurance policies and investments can also be used as financial protection for your loved ones if you were no longer around.

Factor this into your required cover amount.

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Your total cover estimate

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Let us find your best quote.

Life insurance policy options after cancer

Due to the level of risk involved, some policy options may be more attainable than others when securing life insurance after cancer.

This is because some policies will require you to provide medical information during the application process.

This isn’t to say that’s it’s impossible to secure these types of cover, but you may be required to undergo additional questioning, have a medical exam or have your policy written via manual underwriting.

The most common forms of life insurance include:

Let’s find out how these policy types work and how they’re likely to be impacted by a cancer diagnosis…

Term based life insurance

Term based life insurance provides cover for a specified period of time, often this can be up to 40 years, and comes with either a level or decreasing sum assured (pay out amount).

Level term life insurance provides a fixed sum assured whereas a decreasing term policy has a sum assured that reduces over time.

For this reason, a decreasing term life insurance policy is ideal for protecting a repayment mortgage and a level term life insurance policy is well suited to an interest-only mortgage (as well as other large debts).

You’ll need to provide medical information at the point of application so insurers can calculate your premium.

When disclosing your cancer diagnosis you may be asked some additional questions regarding your condition.

It’s still possible to secure term life insurance after cancer but it’s likely you may pay inflated premiums or your application may be postponed until a specified recovery period has been reached.


Whole of life insurance

Whole of life insurance is a form of life assurance, as you’ll be covered for the rest of your life and your loved ones will be guaranteed a pay out.

As with term life insurance, you’ll need to disclose medical information during the application process.

For this reason, whole of life insurance can be a costly option for those securing cover after cancer, as you’ll likely be paying inflated premiums for the remainder of your life.

If looking for lifetime cover (if you fit within the age bracket), an over 50s plan may be a more affordable way of guaranteeing your loved ones a pay out.


Over 50s plan

An over 50s plan offers guaranteed acceptance to UK residents aged 50 - 85 with no need to provide medical information.

Instead, your premium will be calculated using your age, level of cover and (sometimes) your smoking status.

This means any cancer diagnosis won’t affect your ability to secure cover.

However, most over 50s plans include a waiting period, which is typically the first 12 - 24 months of the policy.

If you pass away due to natural causes during this time, no pay out will be made to your loved ones, but any premiums you’ve paid will be refunded to them.

Due to the unknown risk you pose, over 50s plans also offer a lower sum assured, often with a maximum of £25,000.


Critical illness cover

Critical illness cover can be added to a life insurance policy for an additional cost.

It provides an additional layer of protection by allowing you to make an early claim if you are diagnosed with a life-changing, but not terminal, illness. One of which is usually cancer.

However, if you’ve previously had cancer but wish to include critical illness cover in your policy, then the insurer may have it written into the agreement that the previous illness be excluded from a claim.

Alternatively, in some instances, as opposed to the exclusion taking place the premiums are increased to account for the risk of possible recurrence.

On the rare occasion, you could still be declined for a policy.

Always ask the question though, as there’s usually an option available.


Terminal illness cover

Some policies contain terminal illness cover.

If you already have an existing life insurance policy and are then diagnosed with terminal cancer, it's worth reviewing your policy to determine whether or not it includes terminal illness cover.

If you're expected to live less than 12 months and your policy includes a terminal illness element, it's possible to benefit from an early pay out.

This could fund necessary adaptations to your home, pay for a live-in carer or pay off outstanding debts.

If any exclusions for cancer have been written into your life insurance policy, these will likely be the same for terminal illness cover.

Life insurance for breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among woman, affecting 2.1 million women each year. Accounting for 15% of all cancer deaths in women[2].

Obtaining life insurance after breast cancer is still possible.

But, as discussed above, you may experience loaded premiums due to the risk you’ll pose or your application may be postponed until a recovery period has been reached.

Just like any form of cancer, insurers will need to know certain details about your condition. Such as:

  • What treatment you’ve had (and how long for)
  • When you were diagnosed
  • When you last had treatment
  • What stage your cancer was

It’s also highly likely that there will be an exclusion for breast cancer written into your policy, meaning your loved ones won’t be able to make a claim if you pass away as a result of breast cancer.

Life insurance for prostate cancer

In the UK, 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer within their lifetime. With the risk of being diagnosed increasing with age[3].

This highlights the need to have adequate life insurance in place in case the worst were to happen.

Obtaining life insurance as a prostate cancer survivor is also possible. However, underwriting processes will vary between insurers so it’s important to compare quotes.

You’ll need to provide medical information (detailed above) so that insurers can assess the level of risk you pose and your premiums will be calculated accordingly.

It’s likely that you will experience higher premiums or a postponed application.

Life insurance after skin cancer

Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, with around 15,400 people being diagnosed with the condition each year. As with many other cancers, the risk of being diagnosed with skin cancer increases as you get older[4].

It’s still possible to secure life insurance if you’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer.

If you’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer prior to securing life insurance, insurers will need to know certain information about your condition.

This includes when you were diagnosed, what stage the cancer was at, what treatment you received and when you last had treatment.

Premiums may be increased due to the higher risk you pose to the insurer, or your application may be postponed until a specified recovery period has been reached.

Insurers may also want to contact your GP or consultant or may ask you to undergo a medical exam to get a better understanding of your condition.

What if my cancer is terminal?

Unfortunately, if diagnosed with terminal cancer, you'll be unable to secure conventional term-based life insurance as your risk is too high and the cost of your pay out can't be offset by that of your premium.

However, even with terminal cancer, you still have life insurance options.

If you're aged between 50-85, an over 50s plan offers guaranteed life insurance with no medical. Meaning you have no obligation to disclose your cancer.

The only condition to take into consideration is that you're required to live a minimum of 1 or 2 years from the start of the policy. This is known as the waiting or qualifying period.

As a result, your life expectancy diagnosis will determine whether or not this option is appropriate.

If you have life cover already in place when being diagnosed with terminal cancer, check your policy details to see if it includes terminal illness cover.

This will allow you to make an early claim on your policy and receive an early pay out, which can help you fund medical treatment and get your financial affairs in order.

What if someone else in my family has had cancer?

You’ll still be able to secure life insurance if someone in your family has been diagnosed with cancer.

However, your family history can affect the cost of your monthly premiums and policy options.

Certain forms of cancer can be hereditary. Therefore, if a close relative (mother, father, sister or brother) has previously been diagnosed before the age of 65, it's highly likely to increase the cost of your premium.

It's important to not let this deter you from disclosing all information about your family’s medical history during the application.

This can be detrimental in the long run as non-disclosure can lead to the denial of a pay out when the time comes.

What if I get cancer during the term of my policy?

Your policy won't be affected as long as you're honest during the application.

As long as you’ve fully disclosed all the required information about your medical wellbeing during the application process, your existing life insurance won’t be affected and the pay out will be honoured by the insurer.


Certain cover options will provide you with a pay out if you're diagnosed with cancer during the term of your policy. Typically this in the form of:

Critical illness cover - this form of cover can be added onto a life insurance policy for an additional fee. It will allow you to make a claim if you’re diagnosed with a serious illness (that’s listed within the policy). Often, this includes some forms of cancer.

Terminal illness cover - typically comes included with a term-based life insurance policy for no extra cost. This type of cover will allow you to make an early claim and receive an early pay out if you’re diagnosed with a life threatening illness, such as terminal cancer, and predicted to pass away within 12 months.


Being diagnosed with cancer doesn't affect your special event option

A special event option allows you to increase your level of cover without the need for additional underwriting. It is included in some, but not all, policies, or it may be added as an optional benefit which incurs an additional cost.

If your policy includes the special event option, it can be used for life changing events such as having a baby, moving house or getting married.

Even if you're diagnosed with cancer, you still have this option available to you and are able to increase your level of cover in the instance of a specified special event occurring.

Smoking as we know can increase the risk of getting certain types of cancer. Read our page on life insurance for smokers for more information »

Can I take out life insurance pre-diagnosis?

When a doctor questions cancer, it's normal for people to think about the future of their loved ones and how it'll be affected.

Therefore, when suspecting a diagnosis of cancer, many people will question whether or not they can take out life insurance as a precaution for the worst.

Unfortunately, once you’ve had this discussion with your GP, it must be disclosed during the application process to ensure your policy is valid.

In this instance, it's likely that your application will be postponed until the results have been obtained and a diagnosis has been made.

Will life insurance pay out for cancer?

A life insurance pay out for a cancer sufferer can vary depending on whether you were diagnosed before or after your application.

As stated, being diagnosed when your life insurance is already in place doesn't affect the terms of your policy.

Therefore, when you pass away, a pay out will be made to your loved ones as it would with any other cause of death.

However, if you had been diagnosed prior to your life insurance application, there's the possibility that death from cancer may have been written into your policy as an exclusion.

If this is the case and your cause of death is as a result of your cancer, the policy will be deemed invalid and your loved ones won't receive a pay out.

For this reason, it's always essential to read the terms of your policy to determine exactly what causes of death are covered.

The majority of term-based policies now have terminal illness cover included. Therefore, if you're diagnosed with terminal cancer once your cover is already in place (and given less than 12 months to live), you can receive an early pay out.

Finally, if you already have additional critical illness cover and are diagnosed with cancer during the policy, you can receive a pay out.

Cancer help and support

If you're affected by cancer, the following websites could provide you with valuable support:

Cancer life insurance quotes

Whether you’re a cancer survivor or have a family history of cancer, be reassured that there are options available.

Why not get in touch with an FCA-regulated life insurance broker, like Reassured, to discuss your policy options.

Remember, always be open and honest.

Whether you’re applying for a new policy, renewing your old one or discussing an existing one, this will avoid denial of payment through non-disclosure and ensure your loved ones are protected.

If you’re looking for a new policy the best way to ensure you get the right cover for the best price is to compare multiple quotes.

You can undertake this research yourself, or you could save time and money and get Reassured to do it for you.

The best bit is you can use our award-winning service to compare quotes completely free of charge.

Sources:

[1] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cancer/

[2] https://www.boltonft.nhs.uk/services/breast-unit/information/breast-screening-services/39797-2/

[3] https://prostatecanceruk.org/prostate-information/about-prostate-cancer

[4] https://www.royalmarsden.nhs.uk/information-gps/gp-resources/skin-cancer/skin-cancer-incidence-and-risk-factors

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