Can I Get Life Insurance If I’ve Had Cancer?

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Life Insurance and Cancer

If you have had cancer in the past it does not mean that you will be automatically declined for Life Insurance.

However, it may be more difficult to obtain Life Insurance after cancer diagnosis, and your ability to do so will largely depend on:

  • The type of cancer
  • Staging (including any lymph node involvement)
  • Treatment (e.g. surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy)
  • Family history of the disease
  • Smoker status
  • Length of time since diagnosis and length of time in remission.

Life Insurance providers will all assess the individual risk you present to them (i.e. the chances of you passing away during the life of the policy). Obviously, this is something your medical history will have a part in.

Each insurer will have different underwriting criteria and different rates so it is always worth speaking to an independent adviser. Such an expert has access to the whole market so can look at each and every insurer to find the one most favourable for you given your medical history (assuming cover is possible).

Based on a medical history of cancer and depending on the criteria in the bullet points above, an insurer is likely to:

  • Potentially offer cover on standard terms
    This could especially be the case if you’ve been in remission for many years, had early stage, low-grade cancer and present no other risk factors, such as smoking
  • Offer cover with a loading
    To reflect the increased risk you present, the insurer may load (increase) your premiums
  • Decline cover
    If you are still undergoing treatment, have only recently been given the ‘all clear’ or there are other risk factors present, the insurer may decline to offer you cover at all.

In many cases, and again depending on the criteria above, the more time that elapses the lower the risk of the cancer coming back and the premiums will tend to decrease accordingly.

The insurer will want to be armed with all the facts before making a decision so will likely contact your GP, oncologist or other hospital consultant for a medical report. They may also ask the you to undergo a medical examination at their expense.

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Including Critical illness cover

People sometimes take out Critical Illness Cover alongside Life Insurance. This is designed to pay out a lump sum if you suffer one of the critical illnesses listed on the policy.

Unsurprisingly, one of the largest claims on such policies is for cancer.

Most types of cancer are covered by such policies, although you’ll have to meet the insurer’s specific definition of cancer to receive the full payout. This may include the cancer being invasive, for instance, which often rules out most low-grade skin cancers.

If you’ve had cancer in the past, the insurer may look to exclude cancer from the list of illnesses you can claim for. This may be a full body cancer exclusion or a specific exclusion for the type of cancer you’ve already suffered from.

The terms you’re offered will depend on the insurer, so it pays to have an expert fighting your corner to be sure you’re getting the fairest terms possible given your medical history.

If You Already Have Life Insurance and Get Cancer…

If you took out Life Insurance before being diagnosed with cancer, the policy remains valid.

This is because the policy represents a ‘snapshot’ of your health at the time you took it out, when you were presumably cancer-free.

That means if you are unfortunately pass away from cancer, the insurance policy will provide a payout to your loved ones.

Most Life Insurance policies these days have Terminal Illness Cover built in, which offers an early payout on the policy if you’re diagnosed with less than 12 months to live. This can be an incredibly valuable benefit.

Fortunately, if you find yourself unable to work due to cancer, many policies have ‘waiver of premium’ built in. This will keep up with your monthly payments while you’re off work recovering. Ask your adviser if this is included in your policy.

Life Insurance With a Family History of Cancer

For certain types of cancer – such as breast, ovarian, bowel or colon cancer – the insurer will ask if any close relatives have a history of the disease occurring before the age of 65. This is because these cancers have a high genetic inheritability.

The close relatives they consider are mother, father, brother or sister. If any of these relatives have suffered one of these types of cancer before the age of 65, the insurer may look to increase your premium to reflect the heightened risk of you contracting the disease.

This could especially be the case if you’ve been advised to have screening for the disease and found, for example in the case of breast and ovarian cancer, that you have the mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes that can increase your predisposition to these cancers.

Advice on Cancer and Life Insurance

If you are taking out protection insurance, it is best that you gather as much information as possible about your medical history and the insurance policies on the market.

Cancer Research UK suggest speaking to your doctor in advance so that you can find out what information will be passed to the insurer regarding your medical condition and medical history.

This will allow you to make informal enquiries with the insurers before submitting an application. The best way to do this is through an independent broker, such as ourselves.

Why Speak to Us…

We started Drewberry because we were tired of being treated like a number and not getting the service we all deserve when it comes to things as important as protecting our health and our finances. Below are just a few reasons why it makes sense to let us help.

  • There is no fee for our service
  • We are independent and impartial
    Drewberry isn’t tied to any insurance company, so we can provide completely impartial advice to make sure you get the most appropriate policy based solely on your needs.
  • We’ve got bargaining power on our side
    This allows us to negotiate better premiums for you than you going direct yourself.
  • You’ll speak to a dedicated expert from start to finish
    You will speak to a named expert with a direct telephone and email. No more automated machines and no more being sent from pillar to post – you’ll have someone to speak to who knows you.
  • Benefit from our 5-star service
    We pride ourselves on providing a 5-star service, as can be seen from our 2754 and growing independent client reviews rating us at 4.92 / 5.
  • Gain the protection of regulated advice
    You are protected. Where we provide a regulated advice service we are responsible for the policy we set-up for you. Doing it yourself or going direct to an insurer won’t provide this protection, so you won’t benefit from these securities.
  • Claims support when you need it the most
    You have support should you need to make a claim. The most important thing when it comes to insurance is that claims are paid and quickly. We are here to support you during the claims process and make sure it’s as smooth and stress free as possible.
samatha haffenden-angear, independent protection expert at drewberry

At Drewberry, we have access to the whole of the market and our advisers can speak to the insurance companies to find out what terms they are willing to offer on your behalf, saving you a lot of legwork.

Please do not hesitate to pop us a call on 02084327333 or email us at

Samantha Haffenden-Angear
Independent Protection Expert at Drewberry

Great service assisting me obtain the right product. Would happily recommend Drewberry following their professional and efficient way of working.

Jonathan Chadwick
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Or call us on 0208 432 7333

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