In some cases life insurance underwriting just hangs out and doesn’t change much over the years. That has been fairly true of prostate cancer life insurance since I wrote my first post on the subject back in 2007, until the last few months. What follows is an updated post I wrote in early 2007.
The good news from a life insurance standpoint is that prostate cancer in most cases is very insurable after, in 2007 a minimal post treatment waiting period and now, in some cases immediately after successful treatment. I say most cases and not all, because prostate cancer life insurance underwriting, like other insurable cancers, is all about stage and grade. If you meet the criteria outlined below and use an independent life insurance agent who understands the challenge, understands prostate cancer and the different treatment methods, your quotes for term insurance, universal life or whole life insurance should be a pleasant surprise.
There are three indicators that life insurance underwriters look at when determining the insurability of a prostate cancer survivor. The first is the PSA (prostate specific antigen) at the time of diagnosis. Prostate cancer is often detected because the PSA is above normal, above 4.0, or if the PSA is gradually elevating on subsequent exams. For the purpose of life insurance quotes, a PSA of 10 or less at the time of diagnosis is best. The lower the better. Higher is not a show stopper.
Once a troublesome PSA is observed, it is usually followed with a biopsy. At this point it is also assigned a stage of 1, 2, 3 or 4, depending on how much the cancer has spread. An encapsalated cancer for instance would likely be a stage 1. Cancer that has metastatized to the bone or other organs would probably be a 4. A Gleason score of 4 or less (on a scale to 10) would be considered a very non aggressive cancer. A Gleason of 5 or 6 would be only moderately aggressive. At a Gleason of 7, insurance becomes trickier, although still insurable. A Gleason of 8-10 is a tough sell for most underwriters. Don’t throw in the towel until your independent life insurance agent has thoroughly shopped it though!
Treatment options include everything from leaving it alone, called watchful waiting. Back in 2007 this was not an insurable treatment option. Companies were adamant that leaving cancer alone and keeping an eye on it wasn’t treatment. Today at least two companies will consider approval on low stage and grade prostate cancer in older men whose doctors have prescribed watchful waiting. If it is a moderate to higher grade cancer a radical prostatectomy (removal of the prostate). For risks in between there is brachytherapy, a form of radiation therapy.
To summarize, an independent insurance agent can generally get quotes and approvals of standard or better if their prostate cancer surviving client had a PSA of less than 10, a Gleason score of 6 or less and a stage of 1 or a low 2. The PSA after treatment has to be 0 if you had a prostatectomy or .5 or less if you used some other form of treatment. The PSA with watchful waiting would be on a case by case basis. Those criteria would qualify most prostate cancer survivors for better than standard rates.
Bottom line. The good news is that prostate cancer generally doesn’t mean the end to your ability to purchase affordable life insurance. If you are a prostate cancer survivor and have any questions or would like to find out what options are available to you, call or email me directly. Let’s talk.