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Buying Life Insurance After Cancer
While it is extremely common for cancer patients to survive for at least five years after a diagnosis, it is also common for them to have trouble acquiring life insurance. Obtaining reasonable quotes for life insurance following a cancer diagnosis is difficult, but not impossible. Depending on the grade, type, stage and treatment method of the cancer, your odds of finding a policy that fits your needs can vary.
Some insurance companies look at several factors when you apply for a policy, such as how much time has passed since your last treatment, the results of said treatment and when your most recent follow-up was.
The majority of insurance providers employ standards set by the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database. This system contains information on roughly three million patients who have suffered from cancer. Doctors and researchers from all over the country provide information for the database, where patients remain nameless and are assigned a number instead. The insurance companies can view data that includes tumor locations, morphology, diagnosis stages, demographics, treatment methods and follow-up care.
This information helps insurance providers know how far along the cancer is. Policies are often deferred for a time because the highest risk of mortality is typically in the first couple of years after treatment. However, patients who are expected to survive may be eligible for insurance in as little as one year.
Providers will usually look at your medical records and doctors' reports again after seven years have passed from the time of your last treatment. If you still show a positive prognosis, you'll likely become eligible for better rates on your life insurance premium.
The amount that you'll have to pay for your life insurance also depend on how treatable your particular form of cancer is. For example, providers consider many non-melanoma skin cancers to be of little risk, so a history of such cancers are unlikely to affect the cost of your premium.
It is highly uncommon for insurance companies to cover people who are still receiving cancer treatments. Also, the company may require an additional charge known as a temporary flat extra. Some companies will require that you pay this fee for anywhere between two to five years depending on your type of cancer and the treatment methods used.
Insurance Risk Categories
When you purchase life insurance, there are usually a standard set of classes that will determine how much you pay:
- Super Preferred
Under optimal circumstances, people with cancer of the testicle, breast, thyroid or prostate are likely to be rated as standard. People with colon cancer or leukemia are often rated as substandard, and people with spreading cancers may not be eligible for life insurance at all. Cancer that is detected sooner often has a better prognosis, which means that you stand a higher chance of obtaining life insurance. If you're unable to get a life insurance policy by yourself, it is possible to obtain it from your employer's group insurance policy.
Although any life insurance broker will be able to search the market and find a provider who will sell you a policy, there are some who specialize in helping people who are considered high-risk find what they need.
Getting the Best Possible Deal
There are a number of ways to make sure you get the optimal policy for your needs.
You should obtain copies of all your pertinent medical records before applying for any policies. These will be things like treatment histories and pathology reports. This helps to give the insurance companies a better idea of your cancer history and overall health. By having your medical records readily available, you can make the application process go faster because they will be one of the first pieces of information that companies request. The less the company knows about you and your medical status, the more likely it will be that they will write you off as a risky case.
Diligence in Treatment
It's a good idea to follow your treatment plan as closely and accurately as possible. No life insurance company will sell you a policy without seeing the results. Furthermore, when you receive treatment will depend on how long it takes for the insurer to consider your application. For example, if you're scheduled for a follow-up appointment with your doctor in May and you applied for insurance in March, it is likely that the company will wait until you provide them with the results of that appointment.
In some cases, you may not be able to find life insurance on your own. If you're in this situation, you may still qualify for life insurance under you employer's group plan.
You might want to consider applying for a graded policy, which means that the potential benefits increase the longer you live. For the first two or three years, your provider will cover the premiums and a portion of the policy's face value if you die from a pre-existing condition. If you die after the grading-in period, the company will cover the policy's entire value.
Like with most large purchases, it's best to shop around and gather quotes from as many life insurance providers as possible. The costs of premiums can vary widely between them.