It’s no secret that with most types of cancer life insurance can be something of a hassle, if not impossible, to get even when a large amount of time has passed. When I say most things are sort of tilted in favor of that statement just because there are so many kinds of cancer and because the stage and grade of the cancer have so much to do with the prognosis and underwriting.
For example life insurance can be pretty easy on most any type of cancer that is a stage 0 like an insitu breast cancer. No matter the treatment chosen the cancer was fully encapsulated with no lymph nodes involved. Almost by it’s description and definition it is as harmless as it can be and because of that once the treatment is completed, life insurance can be underwritten at reasonable rates. The same would be true of a stage 0 or 1 melanoma. Melanoma can be a killer in later stages but life insurance underwriters know two things, 1. early stages excised should have a great prognosis and 2. the client is likely to have extraordinary follow up for the rest of their lives making the chances of recurrence even less likely. Life insurance can generally be written upon completion of treatment or worst case within six months at very reasonable rates. Prostate cancer, depending on the stage and Gleason grade being 6 or less, can be underwritten post treatment when the PSA has reached minimal levels, making life insurance available usually within a year of treatment.
Then there are cancers that life insurance underwriters may take their time considering. Let me be clear about anything that has involved the lymph nodes or any cancer with a high rate of recurrence like bladder cancer or liver cancer or lung cancer, it may be 10 years or never when it comes to approved life insurance. These cancers are almost always metastatic, they spread, and therefore the survival rate is something the underwriters just can’t accept.
But I started this post with thyroid cancer. Again, stage 0 or 1 thyroid cancer are within the comfort level of life insurance underwriters, maybe not right away but certainly not too far down the road to be helpful. Keeping in mind that stage 0 and stage 1 don’t involve the lymph systems, a thyroidectomy and possibly some radiation therapy just as a precaution, render the threat relatively benign. Underwriters may still err on the side of caution and in the case of stage 0 wait a few years and with stage 1, three to five years.
Bottom line. Cancer is not always a show stopper with life insurance post treatment and it’s always a good idea, armed with your pathology report, to check out what your options are with a good impaired risk agent. Let me emphasize that what I’ve said above won’t stick with most agents or most companies, just those trained in impaired risk and companies that understand and fairly underwrite risk in a clinical way. If you have questions or believe you may have been unfairly treated because of your cancer, call or email me directly. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s talk.