Life Insurance - Being a Breast Cancer Survivor

Life Insurance

Can you get life insurance if you are a breast cancer survivor? After heart disease, breast cancer is the second highest cause of death among women.[1] One of eight American-born women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) was founded in 1985 as a partnership of the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries (now part of AstraZeneca, producer of several anti-breast cancer drugs). The aim of the NBCAM from the start has been to promote mammography as the most effective weapon in the fight against breast cancer.

The key to surviving breast cancer is early detection with yearly mammograms, starting at age 40. That is why it is so important to have adequate insurance, especially in the form of individual and group health, disability insurance to help you if or when you cannot work or when you need critical care Another important piece of the plan is life insurance, just to ensure that you can provide financially for your family.

The most important factor a life insurance company will want to know is whether you are in full remission. The life insurance carrier will ask you questions such as the date you were first diagnosed, the type of treatment you received, how regularly you’ve been tested, and how long you’ve been cancer free. The longer that you’ve been cancer free, the better your chances of getting approved for post-cancer life insurance.

What will the life insurance company want to know about your cancer history?

  • The date you were first diagnosed with cancer
  • The type of cancer that was diagnosed
  • Manner of treatment
  • How long you have been cancer-free

Additional questions life insurance companies could ask you include:

  • What was the stage and grade of the cancer?
  • What size were the tumor(s)?
  • Were lymph nodes involved?
  • Did the cancer metastasize?
  • The start and completion dates of your treatment
  • When was the last date of treatment?
  • Have you had any relapses?
  • What kind of medications are you taking?

Attempting to get life insurance as a cancer patient will most likely not be successful, and most cancers have a waiting period post treatment. So, I would suggest you wait until you have completed your treatment and waiting period to apply for a policy. Most breast cancer waiting periods are a minimum of 2 years after treatment is completed. Early stage breast cancer may be eligible for Standard rating class, whereas some other forms of breast cancer may result in flat extra charge on top of the premium for a short period of time. The flat extra is like a surcharge on to the premium. The insurance company needs to justify the higher risk of insuring the cancer survivor. Generally speaking, breast cancer survivors as well as most cancer survivors, cannot qualify for life insurance carriers’ preferred rating classes. To enhance your eligibility you should gather all medical records beforehand including your first pathology report, your medical records and the treatment plan you followed.

Don’t be discouraged if you previously applied for life insurance and were declined by a life insurance company, as each carrier will view breast cancer survivors differently.

[1] US Department of Health and Human Services

About the author:  Ken Buccico holds a LUTC designation and has been in the life insurance business for 39 years. His wealth of experience empowers clients to make best possible decision regarding a life insurance policy. To explore the best life insurance option, contact Ken at 1-800-651-1953 or