Life Insurance for Cancer Patients & Survivors

There are life insurance options whether you currently are a cancer patient or survivor. You can receive approval the same day. Talk to our agents today.
Author: Brian Greenberg CEO of True Blue Life Insurance
Last updated April 13, 2021

Cancer is a devastating disease, both physically and mentally. While many know someone who has or has had cancer, we like to believe it will never happen to us. Studies conducted by the American Cancer Society show that the number of new cancer cases has increased for decades.

But, there’s also good news. While new cases have been increasing, death due to cancer has been declining. This is especially true for certain types of cancer, like breast cancer. The survival rate for invasive breast cancer is 91%, and if the cancer is only located in the breast, it is 99% as of 2020.

Graph of new cancer cases vs cancer deaths for 2014 – 2020

Cancer cases vs cancer deaths for duration of 2014 - 2020

Can you get life insurance if you have cancer?

The short answer is, yes you can. What type depends on what stage of cancer you are in, active or remission, and if remission, how long.

StageLife Insurance Options
You currently have cancerGuaranteed Issue
You are in remission (within waiting period)Guaranteed Issue
You are cancer-free (past waiting period)Whole life or term life insurance (dependent upon the type of cancer in some cases)

Life insurance for cancer patients

If you are diagnosed with cancer, or you are receiving treatment, you will only be eligible for a guaranteed issue policy. Guaranteed issue policies are an option for most people, regardless of their health. But, they are the most expensive type of life insurance.

The policy also may have a graded period. This means that the insurer will only pay the full benefit (coverage amount) if you outlive a specific term, usually 2 years. If you die during this term, your beneficiaries will not receive your coverage amount. Instead, they will receive any paid premiums + 10% (depending on the policy and insurer).

Guaranteed issue policies aren’t as flexible as term life insurance policies. The most common purpose for this type of policy is to cover funeral expenses. As a result, you can get between $2,500 and $40,000 of coverage. On the other hand, there is no medical exam required, and approval is guaranteed. That is as long as you meet the age requirements for the company you are applying with. This age requirement is typically 50-85, while some companies go as low as 45.

Life insurance for cancer survivors

Even if you have recently finished treatment, the only life insurance option available to you is a guaranteed issue policy. How long you need to be in remission to qualify for other products depends on the type and stage of cancer. For example, breast cancer may only require 1 to 5 years, depending on the stage. Meanwhile, bone cancer requires a remission length of at least 5 years. See a list of types of cancers and typical waiting periods here.

Most doctors and insurers will label you as “cancer-free” after 5 years of remission for most types of cancer. At this stage, you will have more and better life insurance options available to you. Such as term life insurance, which offers the lowest rates for a pre-specified term like 20 years.

But again, this depends on the type and stage of cancer. It is for this reason we recommend that you contact us before you apply for life insurance. We work with the best life insurance providers. Each has its guidelines, and some are more lenient than others. We can help you find the best company and policy, based on your personal situation

Our service is at no cost and no obligation. If you do not like the life insurance solution our agents provide, you are not obligated to apply for it.

Shopping for life insurance with a history of cancer

If you have the option to take out a life insurance policy with your employer while you are still working, you should take advantage of this. However, if you leave your job, you lose the policy. So it’s always best to purchase an individual policy on your own. We can help with that.

The insurer will want a lot of information, though, and full disclosure is key, says Scholz. “Disclosing cancer but glossing over other ailments wastes everyone’s time. Large amounts of coverage are going to be expensive. However, a well-informed agent with the right experience will help. A True Blue agent can provide you with the lowest cost options because they know what company to apply with.”

Unlike other brokers, we are not married to one insurance provider. Instead, we work with dozens of top-rated providers, and some of them are more lenient to individuals with a history of cancer.

Here’s what you’ll likely be asked:

  • What type of cancer did you have?
    Your ability to get coverage will likely depend on the type of cancer you had, its location and stage, and the curability of the type. (See the X chart below for typical waiting periods.)
  • Are you in remission?
    Insurers will want to know that you have been told you’re currently cancer-free.
  • How long has it been since your last treatment?
    Depending upon the type of cancer, the insurer could require a waiting period from a few months to ten years.
  • Are you in good health?
    Other than the cancer diagnosis, do you have any other preexisting medical conditions that could affect your approval? (Think high cholesterol, obesity, high blood pressure, etc…)
  • Can you provide medical records?
    Because of your diagnosis and treatment, the insurer will ask for copies of your medical records for verification. Make sure to have contact information for any doctor you’ve visited.
  • Have you kept current on all follow-up doctor visits, and have you seen all recommended specialists?
    An insurance underwriter will follow up on all notes made in a medical file, so if your physician has recommended your see, say, a cardiologist – or any other specialist – make the appointment and follow through.

Life insurance waiting period for different cancer types

Type of CancerLikely Waiting PeriodOther Factors
Breast1 to 5 yearsDependent upon stage
Lung3 to 5 yearsWith Stage 1 consideration can be three years from the end of treatment; Stage 2 is typically 5 years
Colorectal1 to 6 yearsStage 1, 2, and 3 have different waits
Uterine2 to 5 yearsStage 0 or 1 may qualify after 2 years, but rates will be high. After 4 to 5 years rates may be better. Beyond Stage 2, applicants will likely be denied
Hodgkins and Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma3 to 10 yearsTime period is for Stages 1 & 2 only; others will likely be denied
Prostate6 months to 2 yearsStages 1&2, A, B can be as short as 6 months; Stage 3, C is likely 2 years
Bladder1 to 3 years or greater1 to 2 for Stage A; 3 or greater for Stage B
Melanoma1 to 5 years1 year for early detection; 2 to 5 years for deeper lesions; not at all for metastatic cancer
Testicular6 months to 2 years6 months for cancer that has not spread; 2 years for most others
Leukemia5 to 10 yearsDependent upon type; some are not insurable
Kidney1 to 5 yearsT0 & T1 wait is 1 to 2 years; T2 & T3 can be up to 5 years
Pancreatic2 yearsThe waiting period only applies when cancer is detected in early stages; others will be declined
Cervical0 to 1 yearFor Stage 1 or in-situ cancer
Esophageal3 yearsDependent upon stage
Larynx1 yearDependent upon stage
Ovarian1 to 5 years or moreDependent upon the stage and whether or not cancer has metastasized
Bone5 years or moreDependent upon type; some are not insurable
Basal Cell Carcinoma0 to 3 monthsThis type may have no waiting period if cancer has not spread

Does life insurance pay if you die of cancer?

The short answer is yes. Both term and whole life policies will pay the death benefit if the cause of death is cancer-related.

The only reasons an insurer will not pay the death benefit if cancer is the cause of death is:

  • If you were untruthful about your health history during your life insurance application.
  • You pass away during the graded period. A graded period is typically in effect for the first two years of guaranteed issue policies.

Summary: Should you get life insurance while you have cancer?

While this is a simple question, there’s no simple answer. It boils down to your personal situation, as well as your age and the type of cancer.

Here are a few examples of getting life insurance as a cancer patient or cancer survivor:

Current cancer patient, or in the first years of remission:
The only life insurance option available to you is guaranteed issue life insurance. This type of life insurance is quite expensive. It provides up to $40,000 in life insurance and typically has a graded death benefit of 2 years. During this time, your beneficiaries will not receive the full death benefit. Instead, they will receive any paid premiums + 10%, depending on the insurance provider.

If your life expectancy is less than 2 years:
Chances are slim your beneficiaries would even receive your death benefit. If your life expectancy is 2-5 years, a guaranteed issue policy does make sense since the graded period will be over, and your beneficiaries will receive the full death benefit.

When you are past the remission time for your type of cancer:
It may be best to wait until you are completely cancer-free to buy a term or whole life policy, as these policies offer better benefits at a much lower cost. Depending on your age, term life insurance is most popular for individuals under age 55. For those over 55, a final expense policy can provide up to $50,000 of coverage, without having to worry about a lapsing term.

We can help you, even with a history of cancer

At True Blue, we’re all about helping you find the right policy. When it comes to life insurance, there isn’t a “one product suits all” policy. We work with dozens of top-rated insurance providers to help you find the ideal one.

And if life insurance doesn’t make sense in your situation, we’ll tell you.

To get assistance with life insurance specifically for cancer patients and survivors, please fill out the form below:

  • Personal Information

  • Cancer History

Get the most accurate rates in 2 minutes or less

Making a financial decision doesn’t have to be stressful.
See what you qualify for by answering some health questions.

48 replies
  1. Dee
    Dee says:

    Was diagnosed with Stage 4 Nasopharyngeal Cancer in late 2013. Been in remission since June of 2015. Do I qualify for final expense life insurance and will it be for a reasonable rate being that I have limited income?

    Reply
    • Brian Greenberg
      Brian Greenberg says:

      If you have been in remission for more than 2 years, you can qualify for a graded final expense policy. After 5 years you can qualify for a level whole life policy with the full benefit available to beneficiaries on day 1.

      Reply
    • Bella
      Bella says:

      Do I qualify to get life insurance or health insurance if I was thyroid cancer-free and had history of cancer in our family (my grandfather had colon cancer) and my mom had mild stroke i think 7 yrs ago.

      Reply
      • Ben
        Ben says:

        Hello Bella

        Most insurance providers have different qualifications for different products. A cancer history in your family is something many insurers can disqualify you for. Your best option may be guaranteed issue life insurance.

        You can always call us at 1-866-816-2100 to talk to a licensed agent that can answer your questions and help you find the best policy!

  2. Cindy
    Cindy says:

    Diagnosed with bladder cancer in July 2019, turbit to move tumor twice chemo wash once can i get life insurance?

    Reply
  3. Mike
    Mike says:

    I had stage 1 Esophageal cancer in 2011. I had surgery to remove the esophagus in 2011 and did not need radiation or chemotherapy. I have completed all of the semi annual check ups and was released as being cancer free in 2017. I have a term policy now that terminates soon. Would like to get a term policy for a 67 year old, non-smoker male. What are my options?

    Reply
    • Brian Greenberg
      Brian Greenberg says:

      This is good news. The best course is to send out “quick quotes” to several insurance companies. We can do this for you. We would need to collect as much info as possible regarding the cancer diagnosis and treatment. Then we send this info to the underwriters as several companies to see what they can offer you.
      Insurance companies have very different guidelines in terms of types of cancer and exclusion periods.
      We would send to American National, AIG, Protective, Banner, Prudential, Foresters, Mutual of Omaha, and Transamerica. Possibly John Hancock and Lincoln financial. It sometimes simply depends on what underwriter we talk to.

      Reply
  4. Andy
    Andy says:

    A friend had breast cancer and was cancer free for about 15 years, then had a recurrence about 4 years ago. The recurrence was caught very early and was a very small (pea sized) tumor. She had it removed, had radiation and has twice yearly checkups and has been cancer free since. What would the typical waiting period be since her last occurrence and would she be able to qualify for term life insurance?

    Reply
    • Brian Greenberg
      Brian Greenberg says:

      I do think she could get a term insurance policy. This is one of the cases that we shop around among all the carriers to see who will provide the best rate. Most insurance companies look back 5 years, though some also give consideration looking back 2 – 5 years ago. We placed a similar case with Mutual of Omaha recently.

      Reply
  5. Abby
    Abby says:

    I was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer on 2/25/19 and currently being treated. I was interested in the Guaranteed Life Insurance to cover the costs of funeral expenses should something happen. Would I be eligible?

    Reply
    • Luke Kinton
      Luke Kinton says:

      Hi Abby!

      It may be possible to get coverage, but the coverage limit will be extremely low and these policies have a 2 year “graded benefit” which means there is no coverage for death due to health reasons (accidents are covered at 100%). Instead, you would be refunded the premiums paid.

      I recommend you give us a call and see what one of our agents can do for you.

      Hope this helps!

      -Luke

      Reply
  6. Rebeca Calvillo
    Rebeca Calvillo says:

    My boyfriend was diagnosed with follicular lymphoma in his spine over 6 years ago. He went through chemo and surgery but they were not able to get all of it out. He was told by doctors that he will have the cancer for the rest of his life and will likely die with it but not from it. They also said that it’s a slow growing cancer. Would he be able to get life insurance since he is not cancer free?

    Reply
    • Luke Kinton
      Luke Kinton says:

      Hi Rebecca!

      At this point, most likely not. Even if he was able to, the premiums would be high and the payout would be lower. I would recommend looking at an AD&D policy to at least have coverage for accidental death and take it from there.

      Hope this helped a little.

      Reply
  7. Nick V
    Nick V says:

    Hi my best friends wife is 50 and was just diagnosed with brain cancer in September had surgery, chemo, and radiation found out the cancer came back can she get insurance?

    Reply
    • Luke Kinton
      Luke Kinton says:

      Hi Nick!

      I am sorry to hear about your friend. Sadly, at this point, almost every company would consider her too much of a risk and opt to not provide coverage. Once she is recovered and clear for about 5 years, she may have some companies willing to insure her, but current state she would be considered uninsurable.

      Reply
  8. Jody
    Jody says:

    I was diagnosed with stage 2 astrocytoma last year.I have finished treatment and everything has looked good so far. What are my options for insurance.

    Reply
    • Luke Kinton
      Luke Kinton says:

      Hi Jody!

      At this point, there may be only two options: Accidental Death & Dismemberment and possibly Guaranteed Issue. AD&D will be the cheaper of the two, but only covers if death is due to an accident.

      What you would want to do is get one of these plans and after 5 years or so of being in remission, then apply for a standard term life product. In this situation, you may be rated lower on the health scale but you may be able to get full coverage at a lower rate than a Guaranteed Issue. After 10 years in remission, more company options open up and the possibility for lower rates also improve.

      Run some quotes on our engines and see what looks good for you. From there, request to talk to an agent. One of our agents can best strategize the best next steps and which companies will work best for you given your situation.

      Hope this helps.

      -Luke

      Reply
  9. Christina
    Christina says:

    Hi There,

    My dad had stage 3 stomach cancer. Had chemo, radiation and surgery. Was cancer free for 1.5 years and unfortunately his cancer returned and is now stage 4. He is only doing chemo as the doctors have decided we must control the growth/ spread of the cancer from progressing. He will not have an estimate on his life expectancy until his next CAT Scan which will be in about a month or so. He will be 56 next month and is working full time through all of this. He is a very jolly man and hopefully he will continue to live that way for many years to come. Please help me find some life insurance for him and my mother.

    My mother is 58 years old and has been free of thyroid cancer for about 3 years now. She also has lymphadema and works full time.

    Looking forward to speaking with someone soon.

    Christina

    Reply
  10. Valerie
    Valerie says:

    My fiancé was diagnosed in March 2016 with Brain Cancer and a large golf ball size tumor was removed. It was determined to be a Stage 2 PXA tumor. He was setup for monitoring with MRI’s every 2 months.

    He has recently been diagnosed with another tumor the size of a Pea next to the original resection site. He is 34 years old and otherwise is very healthy other than this diagnosis. What options does he have for life insurance?

    Reply
    • Luke Kinton
      Luke Kinton says:

      Valerie,

      I’m so sorry to hear about this! It is best that this be discussed with one of our agents to be sure we are exhausting all available options, but chances are we are looking at a guaranteed issued type of policy. If you would email me at [email protected], I will personally ensure your information gets into an agent’s hands who is licensed in your state.

      Look forward to hearing from you,

      Luke Kinton

      Reply
    • Luke Kinton
      Luke Kinton says:

      Hi Robert!

      We’d love to answer any questions you may have! Give us a call at (866) 816-2100 and we can talk more in-depth about any questions you may have regarding getting the coverage you need for your father.

      Reply
  11. Johanna
    Johanna says:

    I just turned 60. Had Stage 1 grade 2 ovarian cancer 12 years ago. Treated with surgery only, no chemo or radiation. Cancer free ever since. Height 5’2″ weight 148. Non-smoker for ten years. Vegetarian. No high blood pressure or cholesterol. Only occassional drinker (maybe one glass of wine a month or a margarita). Fairly active (work out three times a week or more in the pool), no high risk activities, good driving history. Hospitalized 5 years ago for jaw infection (root canal gone bad). Other than that, no major disease or illness. Family history…no immediate family history of heart disease. Both parents had strokes in their senior years.
    Does the cancer have much effect on the health class rate at that stage and the years I have been cancer free (it never recurred and now I only go to the oncologist every year or two)?

    Also my husbsnd is 59. He was diagnosed seven years ago with COPD after having very bad case of pneumonia. He used to smoke but never smoked ever again since the pneumonia. We are actually going to get a second opinion on the COPD diagnosis because over the last seven years his symptoms dramatically went away as did most of his various medications. Since usually the hope of someone with COPD is to maintain the level they had when diagnosed and not get worse (COPD has no cure and does not actually improve although symptoms can get slightly better), we are starting to believe that his pulmonologist was a bit quick to pull that diagnosis out of the hat…he saw pneumonia, smoker, and went straight for it. Anyway, if he can get that diagnosis changed what health class for him? He is very slim, 5’10 160 pounds. Drinks wine on regular basis. High HDL (the good cholesterol, I think that’s the one) No other issues. No high risk activities. Good driving record.
    Also what class would he be in if the COPD diagnosis can’t be changed in spite of his lack of symptoms?

    I want to add as much insurance as I can because everything we have now is tied to his job. My dad didn’t plan well and left my mother struggling. I don’t want that to happen to either of us and you never know what will happen in life. I do not wish to be a burden on my daughter ever.

    And what about long term care policies. Are they rated the same way as term or whole life policies as far as health class goes?
    Thanks for your time!

    Reply
    • Brian Greenberg
      Brian Greenberg says:

      Thank you for your question.
      For 12 years cancer free from overian cancer, I would estimate a Standard/Regular health class rating.
      For COPD we are looking at about a Table 4 rating. This is typically 100% more (double) than the premium of the Standard health class.
      Term policies are still inexpensive at these health classes.

      Long term care policies have similar underwriting.
      We have some term life policies that have included riders for living benefits that offer similar benefits of a long term care policy.

      I commend you for doing your best to plan ahead.

      Reply
  12. Peter
    Peter says:

    Have you ever managed to get someone insured who had eye cancer (uveal melanoma, ocular melanoma or choroidal melanoma, none are skin cancer), especially after 5 years or more of no spreading fro eye to rest of body?

    Reply
    • Brian Greenberg
      Brian Greenberg says:

      After 5 years of remission you can absolutely get a policy. The companies will request reports from your doctors to confirm treatment and current status of the cancer. In this situation we like to get as much information from you as possible, and then shop your situation informally to several insurance companies before officially applying. We may even be able to pay for your medical records to provide to the insurance carriers, so we can know exactly what company will make you the best offer.

      Reply
    • Brian Greenberg
      Brian Greenberg says:

      She is eligible for Guaranteed Acceptance life insurance. Most insurers require cancer to be in remission for at least 2 years before they would consider either a term or whole life policy.
      A Guaranteed Acceptance policy is a whole life policy in that it can never be cancelled, and the rates can never go up. Guaranteed Acceptance policies can be expensive and offer coverage amounts from 5,000 – 25,000. Some companies offer up to $40,000 in coverage.
      The last thing to be aware of is these policies have either a 2 or 3 year exclusion period in which they do not pay the full benefit amount if death occurs within this exclusion period due to health conditions (accidents are covered).
      If this happens all the premiums paid are returned, plus 10% typically. So if you paid $1000 in premiums, you will receive $1100 back from the insurance company.

      Reply
  13. Theresa
    Theresa says:

    I was dianosed with Cervical cancer stage 2 in Jan 2014 Been giving the NED every since. Since its been 2 years and 3 months not sure on what insurance plan is best for me.
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Brian Greenberg
      Brian Greenberg says:

      A cancer diagnosis can be tricky. Most companies require remission for 3 years. Some require 5 years of remission. If you need coverage quickly we have guaranteed acceptance life policies… we would like to do a more thorough search for a lower cost policy after you have 3 years of remission.
      An accidental policy may make sense as well to offer your family additional coverage. This is a policy that covers accidental death (not health related).

      Reply
      • Reggo
        Reggo says:

        My brother has been diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer and given 6 months to live is there any coverage out there for him

      • Brian Greenberg
        Brian Greenberg says:

        Very sorry to hear about your brother. We do not have any type of life insurance to offer your brother at this time. The Guaranteed Acceptance policies have a 2 year exclusion period in which they do not pay the full benefit if the insured dies do to any health related cause. They simply refund all the premium paid in, plus 10%.

  14. kimberly
    kimberly says:

    My brother just found out a 2 weeks ago he has stage 4 colon cancer than has spread to his liver and a tumor that is cancerous. They have removed his colon because it qas not repairable. They are waiting for about two more weeks to start chemo treatment. What are his opinions for life insurance?

    Reply
    • Brian Greenberg
      Brian Greenberg says:

      Sorry to hear about your brother. The only options we have are guaranteed issue policies. You can run quotes to see the pricing here https://www.truebluelifeinsurance.com/guaranteed-issue-life-insurance/ . The thing to be aware of is that the guaranteed acceptance policies have a graded benefit period of at least 2 years. What this mean is if the insured passes from a health related condition in the first 2 years, they do not pay the full death benefit. What they typically do is refund all the premium payments you made into the policy, plus 10%.

      Reply
  15. Tam
    Tam says:

    My brother was exposed to an unknown chemical, doctors aren’t sure if they can find and fix it, and the situation looks grim. He is 55, slender of build, nonsmoker, non drinker, no drugs. His wife is also a nonsmoker, nondrinker, no drugs, so no second hand exposure. I am looking for final expense I think-in case the doctors cannot find/treat the exposure. Please contact me as soon as possible. He lives in Alaska.

    Reply
  16. william king
    william king says:

    My sister just found out she have brest cancel I want to know can she buy life insurance , if so I would like a quote

    Reply
  17. tiffany phillips
    tiffany phillips says:

    My sister just found out see has breast cancer and I will like to get some life insurance for her she 33 years old.

    Reply
  18. Shoneeka Cross
    Shoneeka Cross says:

    Hi,

    I would like to speak to someone regarding my father, he had throat cancer and finished Chemotherapy.

    Please contact me via phone 206-724-9652.

    Thanks in advance

    Reply
  19. evan
    evan says:

    I was diagnosed with cancer in 2013 after surgery radiation n chemo im doing fairly well. I’m looking for a company that i can purchase life insurance with. I currently have a policy that will expire in a few years. Is there a company that will issue another term life policy?

    Reply
  20. margarita
    margarita says:

    my fiancee has cancer . i currently insurance for $25k w gerber adult and would like to combine and obtain more whole life insurances for him…please contact me thanks…margarita

    Reply

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