Life Insurance for Breast Cancer Survivors In 2024

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Written by
Bob Phillips
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Breast cancer survivors might wonder what their options are for life insurance. If this is you, we’re here to help. The insurance world can be a confusing place, full of unfamiliar terms and medical jargon. We understand this and have compiled research and data on the subject of life insurance for breast cancer survivors that should make navigating your way through all of the red tape a little easier.

We’ve spent a lot of hours researching life insurance and how it affects various health conditions, including breast cancer survivors.

The life insurance landscape for breast cancer survivors has been much improved by medical advancements and a better understanding of breast cancer survivors, along with the treatments for breast cancer.

We’ll begin by examining your coverage details, life insurance options, qualifying for life insurance and more along those lines, that should assist you in securing a policy that fits your individual needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Life insurance rates are usually higher for breast cancer survivors

  • The life insurance underwriting process for breast cancer survivors might be lengthier, and more complex

  • Life insurance for breast cancer survivors is available

Can Breast Cancer Survivors Get Life Insurance?

Yes, they can. Breast cancer survivors can get life insurance. This wasn’t the case back in the days before advancements in medicine plus a better understanding of breast cancer changed the insurance industry’s viewpoint over time. Many leading insurance providers offer whole life as well as term life insurance for breast cancer providers.

It’s encouraging to know that life insurance options exist for breast cancer survivors, but bear in mind that not every life insurance provider offers this coverage. However, you shouldn’t get discouraged, because there are plenty of insurance companies that do offer coverage for breast cancer survivors, so you can purchase life insurance if you want or need it. Your rates might be a bit higher, but nothing outlandish.

Important: Life insurance for breast cancer survivors is available, though the coverage might be limited and potentially more expensive.

Is Life Insurance Eligible For Breast Cancer Survivors?

Standard life insurance coverage might not be available to breast cancer survivors, but there are insurance carriers offering special coverage. These insurers offer standard life insurance coverage for breast cancer survivors, especially if they are managing their condition well. In addition, those with breast cancer survivors may meet the requirements for group life insurance, or guaranteed issue, as well.

Breast cancer survivors researching to learn more about what to look for when trying to find life insurance coverage will find it a valuable use of their time. This research may be challenging, but the financial protection you’ll gain from a life insurance policy is invaluable.

One thing to note: If you’re diagnosed with breast cancer after you have taken out a life insurance policy, the company can’t cancel your policy due to your diagnosis. There are only two reasons a life insurance company can cancel your policy:

  • Fraudulent statements made on an application for insurance
  • Failure to pay premiums for insurance

An insurance company cannot up your premiums if you are diagnosed with breast cancer after purchasing coverage, either.

Important: A life insurance policy can’t be rescinded or have the rates raised if you’re diagnosed with breast cancer survivors after the policy has been issued.

Life Insurance Underwriting Process For Breast Cancer Survivors

Breast cancer survivors, it will help you a lot to have at least a working knowledge of the underwriting process involved in getting life insurance. Below are 10 key pieces of information you will need to supply in the underwriting process for applicants who are breast cancer survivors and want to get life insurance:

  1. The stage
  2. Type of treatment
  3. Family medical history
  4. How long has passed since last treatment
  5. The date of diagnosis
  6. Your age at the time of diagnosis
  7. Was your cancer invasive or non-invasive?
  8. Smoking or non-smoking
  9. Alcohol use
  10. Drug Use

What Do Life Insurance Companies Consider With Breast Cancer Survivors?

When breast cancer survivors apply for life insurance, they should understand that insurance providers will pay close attention to the information provided.

Be aware that a key point taken into consideration by an insurance carrier is how breast cancer survivors are managing their condition. They’ll usually request complete access to your medical history in order to thoroughly scrutinize your records.

If they see that you take an active part in managing your health, it might gain you a goodly savings on the price of your life insurance, if you’re approved. Lifestyle is also an important component in whether you’re issued coverage, or not.

Here are some things that will play an important role in an insurance provider’s decision as to whether or not to issue a life insurance policy to breast cancer survivors:

  • What type and stage of cancer you had
  • What medications you’re taking to treat the breast cancer
  • When you were first diagnosed with breast cancer
  • What other health conditions you have, if any

Best Type Of Life Insurance For People With breast cancer survivors

Breast cancer survivors have quite a few options available for life insurance. Each of these options comes with pros and cons. You will have to look them over and then decide which seems like the choice for you.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance provides coverage for a specified length of time, 10-25 years in most cases. Term life insurance costs less than whole life insurance. Term life might be a better selection for breast cancer survivors. This is especially true if you need a large amount of coverage at budget rates.

Whole Life Insurance

Whole life insurance gives you exactly what it sounds like: life insurance for your whole life. It builds a cash value that increases over time. Coverage for whole life insurance won’t ever expire as term life insurance does after a set length of time, and an added perk is that your death benefits are guaranteed.

You can safely assume you’ll be paying higher premiums if you decide to go with whole life instead of term life insurance.

Group Life Insurance

Group life insurance is usually obtained through your employer, union or another type of group or organization. Breast cancer survivors are eligible for group life insurance and should consider it if it’s available to them. There isn’t an intensive questionnaire to be filled out or a physical exam when applying for group life insurance.

Since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), nobody can be declined for coverage due to a pre-existing condition with group life insurance. So underwriting won’t be a problem for breast cancer survivors.

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance is literally guaranteed. It offers coverage to almost anybody, with any health condition. For breast cancer survivors, this life insurance might be an acceptable option. Guaranteed Issue life insurance almost always has higher rates with less coverage than some other types.

Final Expense Life Insurance

Final Expense Life Insurance takes care of costs such as burial or funeral costs, end of life expenses, and more. Final Expense policies typically have fairly lenient underwriting compared to other types of life insurance. For breast cancer survivors, this could be an attractive feature if you’re having trouble qualifying for traditional life insurance.

Important: Living benefit riders can also be a lifeline for individuals living with breast cancer survivors. These optional additions to your policy can allow you to access a portion of your death benefit while still alive to help cover treatment expenses.

Breast Cancer Survivors: How To Buy Life Insurance

Follow these four handy tips to expedite purchasing life insurance for breast cancer survivors.

Research Your Options

Your initial step should be the research of life insurance companies providing coverage to breast cancer survivors. Many insurers provide term as well as whole life insurance, so you need to know the differences between the types, along with which type fits your particular needs.


Understand the Underwriting Process

The majority of life insurance applications will have questions that divulge your health records and medical history. So, the underwriting is likely to be more in-depth and could also mean higher rates.


Consider Employer or Group Coverage

If you have the opportunity to obtain life insurance through your work place…do it. Group life insurance policies provide coverage no matter your health conditions, which is great for breast cancer survivors. Rates are considerably lower than private insurance policies.


Apply for Coverage

Once you have selected a life insurance provider with the coverage you need, it’s time to submit an application. This could involve answering health questions, as well as a required medical exam.


How Much Does Life Insurance Cost For Breast Cancer Survivors?

Breast cancer survivors may have to furnish a treatment plan ordered by a doctor in order to get the best rates available. Other companies don’t require this, depending on several factors such as type of cancer, length of time with no recurrence and other pertinent data.

For example, a 40 year old female who was diagnosed five years ago, undergone radiation and chemotherapy, and had no recurrence of the cancer during this time would probably get a much better rate for life insurance than someone recently diagnosed. The data below might be useful to you:

The breast cancer staging system is called TNM:

  • (T) The size of the tumor
  • (N) Whether or not the cancer is in the lymph nodes
  • (M) Has cancer spread to other parts of the body

Breast cancer has five stages:

  • Stage 0
  • Stage I
  • Stage II
  • Stage III
  • Stage IV

You may be wondering what rate class breast cancer survivors qualify for. Here are the stages of breast cancer used in underwriting or issuance of life insurance policies:

  • Stage 0: Low grade and estrogen receptor (ER) positive. Estrogen, not progesterone, caused the cancer. Stage 0 with a minimum of 2 years since the last treatment gets you a standard rate.
  • Stage 1: Low grade, ER positive, and diagnosis at 40 years or younger, with tumor size 1.1-10mm. This low grade with two years since your last treatment qualifies for a standard rate.
  • Stage 2: Tumor size 2.1 to 5cm with zero positive nodes. You can qualify for Table B rates (50% more than standard cost) after a five year waiting period. If one to three nodes were positive, you’ll have to wait ten years before making an application .
  • Stage 3 and 4: You’ll have to wait at least 15 years before any life insurance company will consider your application for coverage.

Here are some standard term life insurance rates for breast cancer survivors:

40 Year Old Female Non-Smoker 20 Year Term Life Insurance

Health Class $100,000.00 $250,000.00 $500,000.00
Standard Plus $14.30 $25.76 $51.87
Standard $16.20 $28.92 $53.83
Table B $20.36 $34.66 $62.52
Table D $25.38 $44.05 $81.26

How To Qualify For Life Insurance: Breast Cancer Survivors

Breast cancer survivors who want to qualify for life insurance should be aware that it might not be easy. When it comes to insurance underwriting, risk assessment is everything. There are several factors that will go into an insurance provider’s risk assessment of your health when it comes to issuing a life insurance policy.

One of the most important elements is your last date of treatment. The underwriter will look at things like how invasive your breast cancer was, as well as the stage, and how long it has been since your last treatment. These factors are the foundation your rates and application acceptance are built on.

Here are some key points that will be covered in the underwriting process:

  • Last date of treatment
  • Date of diagnosis
  • Stage of breast cancer
  • Type of breast cancer
  • Size of tumor
  • Medications you’re on
  • Treatment you were given
  • Date of recurrence, if any

To boost your chances of having your application for coverage approved, and to make sure you get the best rates possible, gather all of the information you have or can get about your breast cancer diagnosis, your treatment, and your prognosis. The more information an underwriter has regarding your medical history, the more accurately he/she can assess your risk.

Can Insurance Companies Deny Coverage For Breast Cancer Survivors?

Yes, they can. However, with more effective treatments and earlier diagnosis than in the past, breast cancer isn’t the death sentence it once was. The survival rate now is much higher than it used to be, and many life insurance providers are willing to issue coverage to breast cancer survivors.

Keep in mind, however, that the rates for breast cancer survivors may be higher than average.

What Will Insurers Ask About Your Condition?

Breast cancer survivors applying for life insurance will be asked to undergo an intensive underwriting process. Here are some questions breast cancer survivors might be asked if making an application for life insurance:

  • Are you currently free from cancer?
  • What stage was your breast cancer?
  • Are you in remission, if so for how long have you been in remission?
  • Are you undergoing treatment now?
  • If you aren’t currently receiving treatment, when was your last treatment?
  • Have you observed all of your doctor’s treatment guidelines?
  • Do you have records to confirm your diagnosis and treatment?
  • Do you have other illnesses or risk factors?

Your answers to these questions will decide if you are accepted for life insurance coverage and if you are, your rate and premiums.

Breast Cancer Survivors: Life Insurance Options If You Are Denied Coverage

If you are one of the breast cancer survivors who have been denied life insurance coverage, you still have options. A guaranteed issue policy might be a solution. You won’t need to have a physical examination or even questions about your health in some cases. This type of life insurance will have higher premiums with less coverage than traditional life insurance, but it’s better than nothing.

Another alternative if you are declined for traditional life insurance is a graded death benefit. This type of coverage raises payouts over time, so the longer you have it, the more payout it will accrue.

One of your best options if you have been denied life insurance is group life insurance. This type is usually through your workplace, an organization, group, or even a club of some sort. Group policies usually have coverage available regardless of pre-existing health conditions, including breast cancer survivors.

Services such as Insuranceopedia can help you search out insurers that offer coverage for breast cancer survivors, and to get quotes from different providers, too.

Important: Guaranteed issue policies are an excellent option if other companies have denied your application for whole, universal, or term life insurance policies.

Tips for choosing the right policy

Here Are 3 Simple Tips That Can Shorten Your Search:

  1. Know Your Needs: Sit down with your calculator and figure how much life insurance you should have in place. Expenses like how much debt you would leave that would have to be repaid, how much money will be needed to replace all or most of your income, plus such expenses as college or school tuition for your children, ongoing medical expenses not covered by health insurance.
  2. Explore Policy Types: A graded death benefit policy, or a guaranteed issue insurance might be good options if you have been denied traditional coverage. These policies were intended for people with critical illnesses, like breast cancer survivors. Another option is group life insurance that often covers you regardless of your health conditions.
  3. Use Specialized Services: Services such as Insuranceopedia, that provides quotes from insurance providers to help you compare rates, are a great way to find just the life insurance that fits your needs.

What Is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer begins when cells in your breast grow out-of-control and then form a tumor. This tumor may or may not be seen on an X-ray or felt as a lump in your breast. The tumor is considered malignant, or cancerous, if the cells are able spread to other parts of your body.

The second most common cancer that affects women in the US is breast cancer. Skin cancer holds the number one place. The chance of a woman in the United States to have breast cancer is 12%, or one in eight. Some people are surprised to learn that fewer than 1% of all cases of breast cancer occur in men.

The two categories of breast cancer are: invasive and non-invasive. A pathologist, after a biopsy, will examine the tissue specimen pathologist will look at the tissue and then make a decision regarding whether the tumor is invasive or non-invasive breast cancer. From an insurance company’s underwriting viewpoint, you’ll have a better chance of getting your life insurance approved with the non-invasive type.

Non-Invasive Breast Cancer

Non-invasive breast cancer is also called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). In situ means “in place.” With this type of breast cancer, the abnormal cells have not spread to other parts of your body and are contained in the milk ducts of the breast.

Invasive Breast Cancer

With invasive breast cancer, abnormal cells spread from the original site of the cancer into other parts of tissue, or to other parts of your body. Below are the types of invasive breast cancer:

  • (IDC) Invasive ductal carcinoma
  • (ILC) Invasive lobular carcinoma
  • Tubular carcinoma
  • Mucinous (colloid) carcinoma
  • Carcinomas with medullary features
  • Invasive papillary carcinoma

Other Health Concerns That Can Affect Your Life Insurance

Insurance providers will evaluate your health condition and then calculate the risk if they decide to insure your life. This normally means filling out an application and having a medical exam. Below is a list of seventeen common health problems that can affect issuance or rates of life insurance:

  • Obesity: Being overweight, with a high BMI, or Body Mass Index, could mean your premium will be higher.
  • Heart Disease: Depending on severity, heart disease is a common problem and can cause you to pay higher rates or even denial of coverage.
  • Breast cancer survivors/AIDS: Progress in medical treatment means that many insurance carriers provide policies to breast cancer survivors.
  • Asthma: If asthma is severe, it could affect your life insurance rates..
  • Cancer: Depending on the type and stage of cancer, it can have a significant effect on insurability.
  • Diabetes: Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes usually cause increased premiums.
  • Breast cancer survivors: Your insurability will depend mainly on the type and stage of breast cancer and how long it has been since you received treatments for it.
  • High Cholesterol: You’ll have higher insurance premiums if your cholesterol isn’t controlled, or consistently over 200.
  • Alzheimer’s/Dementia: As both of these conditions can be accompanied by physical illness such as kidney failure, they can affect insurability for life insurance.
  • Kidney Disease: CKD, or Chronic Kidney Disease, could come with increased insurance premiums.
  • Depression: Mental health conditions such as depression may impact life insurance rates.
  • Lung Disease: Chronic conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, could cause you to pay high insurance premiums.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: Being a chronic autoimmune condition, Rheumatoid Arthritis could lead to more expensive premiums.
  • Stroke: A history of stroke may raise insurance rates.
  • Liver Disease: Cirrhosis of the liver or fatty liver might affect your life insurance cost.
  • Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea may cause an increase in your insurance premiums.
  • Substance Use Disorders: A history of drug and/or alcohol abuse may have an affect on your insurability and rates.


Do Breast Cancer Survivors Qualify For Life Insurance?

Some insurance companies will insure breast cancer survivors, and others won’t. Most will issue a policy provided you have been cancer free for at least 5 years. Chances are you’ll still have to pay a higher premium, but you should be able to get life insurance at a fairly reasonable rate if you’ve made it past that five year marker.

Another factor in issuance of a life insurance policy to breast cancer survivors is the stage of your cancer. Those with low grade cancer, Stage 0-1, have an almost 100% five year survival rate, making them low risk. Those with Stage 2 have a five year survival rate of about 93%, still low risk.

What Insurance Is Best For Breast Cancer Survivors?

If you have been denied coverage for traditional life insurance because you’re one of the many breast cancer survivors, you may want to think about a Guaranteed Issue policy. This type doesn’t require that you undergo a medical examination or answer any questions regarding your health.

Are Breast Cancer Survivors Classed As Having a Critical Illness In Insurance?

Yes. Breast cancer, although not as deadly as it used to be, is still considered a critical illness.


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