With almost all life insurance underwriting in relation to someone with a history of cancer there will be a waiting period after the completion of treatment before a company will approve a policy. The only exception to that rule that I can think of would be the two most common skin cancers, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin.

From there in general it would jump to a one year waiting period after treatment primarily to see if there is any quick recurrence, which would suggest either a more aggressive cancer than was thought or possibly some cancer cells that were missed with the treatment. The one year waiting period would most likely be used in the instance of low stage/low grade cancers such as in situ breast cancer, a grade 6 or lower prostate cancer and in general any cancer that is considered to be a stage 0, fully encapsulated tumor or cyst. We were recently able to get standard plus rates about 9 months out from a very low stage and grade Melanoma.

My wife recently had a large ovarian tumor that was taken out with a total hysterectomy. Pathology showed it was a stage 0 Brenner tumor, cancerous yes, likely to spread or recur no. If she needed more life insurance we would likely be looking at a year before we could get standard rates.

It’s not uncommon with cancers that are more aggressive or are more prone to recurrence for companies to postpone consideration of coverage for 5 years or even as much as 10, or rather than postpone, approve the policy but with an extra charge per thousand dollars worth of coverage per year until that 5 or 10 year point is reached. When we place a policy like that we continue to shop it every six months or so just in case someone has changed their stance on the waiting period or extra charge. Companies don’t set their guidelines in stone and never review them so the possibility for improvement is always out there.

Bottom line. The key to success is to find an independent agent who understands the different company stances on cancer and provide them with the pathology report, post surgical or whichever report is their final conclusion. Understand that coverage won’t be available if you are still being treated and just because your oncologist says you are cancer free, insurance companies aren’t going to be treating it as if it never happened.