The various skins cancers and the way in which they are viewed by life insurance underwriters continues to evolve. The three primary skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.
Not even five years ago it was a given that basal cell carcinoma just didn’t affect your life insurance quote at all. It was considered insignificant from a mortality standpoint, simply because no one dies from basal cell carcinoma. Squamous cell, while more serious than basal cell, in most cases doesn’t carry any real significant mortality risk. Both of these skin cancers are also called “non melanoma” skin cancer.
On the other end of the skin cancer spectrum is melanoma, a cancer known for its’ tendency to spread quickly and metastasize throughout the body. Definitely a mortality issue.
Now, to complicate the underwriting issue, comes a study that shows that people who have multiple basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas, have a higher than average chance of having a melanoma. This has caused many companies to take a new look at their old underwriting. As I mentioned earlier, the general rule of thumb was that basal cell carcinoma was a non issue in underwriting. With most companies, five years ago, a person could expect the best rate class even with multiple instances of basal cell.
New thinking from underwriters is that multiple instances should now incur some rate change due to a higher risk of melanoma. Not all companies are on board with that, but the trend is in that direction. This is where an independent agent is a good idea. The more companies you have to choose from the better the likelihood you can still get the best rates.
My personal opinion on this is that the companies that have freaked out over the study are forgetting something very important. Undiagnosed melanoma is generally the killer. Someone has never had a skin cancer problem and they kind of ignore it and then, by the time they think they should have it checked out, it’s too late. If someone has had basal or squamous cell carcinoma and especially someone who has had more than one, they are likely to get regular checkups from a dermatologist. The likelihood of a melanoma sneaking up on them and doing any real damage is actually pretty slim.
Bottom line. If you’ve had skin cancer and are shopping for life insurance, bring all the facts and even the pathology reports to your insurance agent. The more information they have the more likely they are to be able to find good rates.
This post is somewhat dated. Life insurance underwriting is changing and evolving continually. For more updated information check out some of the key word links. If you have a specific question or topic you need information for do a search. If you don’t find the answers you need contact me and we’ll make sure you get the information that is important to you.