One of the brightest gems in the new cancer life insurance underwriting that was unveiled this week is the possibility to get all the way back to preferred rates with the right cancer, the right outcome and, of course, the right agent and the right company.
For as long as I can remember the best post cancer treatment life insurance offers, dependent on the type of cancer, has been that time when the insurance companies will finally let you have a standard rate. For a few cancers this could be as soon as a year post treatment, but for most cancer it was 5, 10 or even 20 years out from the successful treatment.
The overriding underwriting fear is, of course, recurrence or relapse. What happens when they let their guard down and give you a better rate and the cancer comes back and stomps you in a mud puddle? And for those of us over 50 or probably even over 40, it’s not too big a stretch to remember when cancer, almost any kind of cancer, would kill you. If not the first time around, it would hang out until the doctors thought they had it whipped and then recur and kill you. Two things played into this scary scenario. First, early detection was pretty unheard of. So many people were diagnosed in the hospital and never left. There was no PSA screening or genetic testing or (avert your eyes) breast self examination or digital prostate examination. The second part of the horror story was that the treatment was brutal. If the cancer didn’t kill you, the treatment so compromised your immune system that you were simply a walking illness magnet. Not that chemotherapy is a cakewalk today, far from it. But compared to 30 years ago when they were throwing everything they could think of at out of control cancer, it is at least a little more scientific.
So, fast forward 30 years to a time when it is far less common for people to be diagnosed with cancer that is so advanced as to be an almost immediate death sentence. Doctors and patients both know warning signs and engage in proactive screening and generally get the idea that if someone isn’t feeling good, there can be significant underlying reasons. Cancer overall is being detected and treated at much earlier stages and there is nothing that lends itself to successful treatment quite as much as early intervention.
And treatment itself is no longer an attempt to overwhelm the body with cell killing poison. Treatment has become very specific and focused, has less side effects, utilizes stem cell technology and is just over all a kinder, gentler approach to getting rid of cancer. And in the process it is also much more effective. Take at look, for example, at prostate cancer watchful waiting. A bold, but not uneducated step by the medical community to admit that some things are better off left alone.
All of this is to say it is about time a life insurance stepped forward and acknowledged that the medical advances of the last 30 years deserve some recognition on the mortality charts. Where the best a cancer survivor could ever expect from a life insurance underwriter is, at some point, standard, guidelines released this week allow for preferred rates as little as 5 years post treatment for early detected and successfully treated uterine, thyroid and testicular cancer. The same guidelines allow preferred rates for several cancers 10 years after treatment.
Bottom line. I remember early on in my life insurance career how indignant I became when the best I could find a client 20 years out from cancer treatment was a standard rate. They had cancer, had it treated and 20 years later it had not reared its’ ugly head again and their otherwise perfect health didn’t get any better than standard. It is refreshing to see that our industry may finally be willing to grow beyond that kind of underwriting. If you have any questions or would like to have you situation reviewed, please call or email me directly. Let’s talk.