You can get life insurance if you have cancer.  We help our clients obtain valuable policies every day when they have cancer or any number of other serious diseases.  The caveat is that the process is a bit more involved than the standard way.  It will take a little more time to shop policies, the underwriting is more comprehensive in some cases, and the policy is often a little different or a little more complicated than a normal life insurance policy.  It takes patience from an agent, knowledge and experience, and the desire to help make a lasting difference in their client’s lives.  We take great pride in this at Life Ant.

Cancer is an awful disease affecting a staggering amount of people.  In the United States, 14,738,719 people are estimated to be living with cancer, and 38.5% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes.  If you have cancer, you are far from alone.

If you have cancer, you also need life insurance more than ever.  Depending upon the severity of the disease, your survival may not be guaranteed.  There is a lot of hope today, because 67% of people who are diagnosed with cancer will survive at least 5 years.  Even with the odds in your favor, you need to be prepared for the worst.  If you have loved ones including children, grandchildren, a husband or a wife, they may depend upon your income for their own well being.  You want to know that they are taken care of if you are no longer around.  Life insurance can help put your mind to ease about the financial future of those you care most about, so that you can concentrate on getting better.

What are your Options

You may be surprised to learn that you actually have multiple options when it comes to getting life insurance when you have cancer.  An important differentiation made by life insurance companies that will affect your options, is whether or not your cancer is currently in remission and whether or not your treatments are ongoing.  Depending upon your type of cancer, its progression and what stage it is in, and how you responded to treatment, here are the options available to you.

Relax- you do have options. Sit down with a warm cup of tea or coffee and learn more about what you can do today.

Apply for Standard Underwriting

If you have certain types of cancer which are easily treatable such as skin cancer, types of thyroid cancer, or any cancer with a very high survival rate and favorable prognosis, you can actually apply for a regular policy at a big company through standard underwriting procedures.  Life insurance companies group people into different “risk ratings” or risk categories, that depend upon the health of the person getting insured.  The longer the perceived life expectancy of the insured person, the better the rating assigned and the lower the premiums will be.  You may be able to obtain a “standard” rating, or perhaps even a “substandard”, which still may have affordable premiums and may still be worth the price.

Of course life insurance companies approach to assigning risk ratings is entirely data driven.  Companies use mortality tables and statistics from various sources to quantify the risk of death for insured people.  For people with cancer, most companies use a database from the National Cancer Institute called “SEER”, or the “Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program”.  SEER keeps data on millions of cancer cases in order to track outcomes and how they are changing over time.

If the life insurance company determines through a very thorough investigation into your health that you qualify, this type of policy will probably allow you to buy the most insurance coverage for the best price.  The underwriting process will be fairly involved, and some understanding and patience is needed from all parties to work through the process.  Typically, the insurance company will want to see the following types of information before making a conclusion.

  • Your full medical records.
  • Your type of cancer.
  • The stage your cancer reached.
  • Whether your cancer metastasized or not.
  • Analysis of tissue samples of cancer.
  • Your treatment, and how you responded.

They may ask for much more information as well, and ultimately what they request depends upon the individual case.  If your cancer metastasized or reached a later stage, you are much more likely to face a decline from the company.

Even if you have cancer, a standard policy is still a good option to try for.  If you are declined it doesn’t cost you anything, and it probably represents your best bet to get the most amount of life insurance for the cheapest price.  Remember that life insurance underwriting practices vary between companies, and you may want to apply to more than one company simultaneously so that you give yourself the best chance for an approval.

Apply with a Broker who Specializes in High Risk Policies

Some smaller life insurance companies may have an appetite for taking on some higher risk class policies, for the right price of course.  If you are not able to get a policy through standard underwriting with a large provider, you may want to find an agent that specializes in high risk cases.  Depending upon your health issue, these agents know the companies to go to to give you the best shot at being issued a policy.  Some may even work with underwriters who they can speak with on the front end, so that you don’t need to go through the long application process without knowing that there is a decent chance of the policy being issued.

These are sometimes referred to as “special risk” policies within the industry, and they usually come with additional restrictions and covenants written around them, in addition to carrying a higher price tag.  Usually there is a maximum dollar amount that the company is willing to insure, such as $250,000.  Still, some life insurance may be better than none, even if it is expensive.

Get Life Insurance Through Work

Group life insurance policies do not require any underwriting.  They are usually inexpensive, easy to sign up for, and they are offered by a lot of employers.  Ask your employer about their specific qualifications and requirements, but you usually don’t need to disclose to the insurance company that you even have a pre-existing condition.

These policies are usually limited to a comparatively small dollar amount, usually between 1x your annual salary and 3x your annual salary, but this can still be a big benefit.  Even if you are going to pursue other options for buying life insurance coverage, you should sign up for any group policies that you are eligible for.  This will probably be the least expensive life insurance you can buy, and you can usually get coverage immediately without underwriting.

Apply for a No Underwriting Policy

Life insurance companies no offer a product called a “no underwriting policy” or a “guaranteed issue life insurance policy” or sometimes a “limited underwriting policy”.  A true guaranteed issue policy will not deny you no matter what type of cancer you have, where you are in your treatments, or what your health is.

There is still a catch, usually there is no death benefit paid out if the insured person dies within the first 2 years of the policy (though they will return premiums paid plus interest).  The premium payments are also usually very high.  This type of policy is really a last resort.  If the insured person lives more than about 10 years, usually the premiums paid will be more than the death benefit.  So each person buying guaranteed issue life insurance needs to evaluate whether or not it is worth it given the price and restrictions.  It is important to understand that the life insurance company will not pay out any death benefit until the insured person outlives the beginning period.

You can actually get term and whole life policies that are guaranteed issue, and whole life policies may pay dividends and make it a more cost effective policy long term than a term policy.  Because there is no underwriting, there are no health ratings assigned to the policies and if you recover from your cancer, you may want to try to replace the policy with a standard underwriting policy.

You Are not Alone

Many people have cancer, and many people with cancer are issued life insurance policies.  The good thing for people with cancer is that they do have options, and Life Ant is here to help.  We have helped clients time and again find a policy that fits their needs, even if they have special cases.  If you would like a quote, contact us today and we can help you get the most coverage for the best price.


  1. I’m in late stage if colon cancer and I don’t have much longer ..I’m tryin to get my affairs in order and one most important one is life insurn that wil take affect immedidly and pay out death benefits the amount I apply for rather it’s 25;000 or higher be paid to my person I choice not the premiums I pay out with interest .. can you help me find a insurance company that will help me get a policy the way I want it thank you

    1. Doug, you should contact us regarding your options. It can be difficult or impossible to obtain coverage in late-stage cancer and may not be worth it for you.

  2. My wife has lung cancer looking for life insurance for burial when she passes

    1. Andrew @ LifeAnt

      Hi Stephen,
      There are life insurance companies that you might be able to buy that are guaranteed issue without a medical exam, which can help pay for your wife’s burial. These policies cost a lot but it’s because there is no medical so the company is going to pay out the benefit, but you still should be able to get one. You can start by filling out the form at the top of this page for a quote.

  3. Brittany Bailey

    I am trying to purchase life insurance for my spouse he has cancer

    1. Please fill out our quote form, or give us a call!

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