Can you still get life insurance after a cancer diagnosis?

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, the thought of getting life insurance might seem impossible. 1 in 2 of us will get cancer in our lifetime, so it’s important that people know the facts when it comes to life insurance after a cancer diagnosis.

It’s not always easy

When it comes to obtaining life insurance after a cancer diagnosis, you may face difficulties. But it very much depends on the type of cancer and stage that it is at. Whilst it isn’t always an easy feat, it may be worth exploring your options, so you and your family can be protected.

There is an increasing number of people living with cancer in the UK. Without life insurance, this can put a significant number of people at risk. There are currently more than 200 different types of cancer. Therefore, it can be difficult to judge how an insurance company would treat someone with a cancer diagnosis.

But it’s not impossible

Getting life insurance after you’ve had cancer can be difficult, but it’s not completely impossible. Therefore, don’t be disheartened if you are applying for a life insurance policy with a history of cancer.

Some people don’t look into getting life insurance for fear of being declined and others that have been declined before don’t look into other possibilities.

If you do get declined or have been previously turned down for life insurance, don’t worry. It may not be forever

In fact, some providers will defer or postpone a policy for a few years after treatment, to make sure that no re-occurrence happens. After which you are able to get yourself protected with a policy.

Explore your options – there are providers that will insure you

Where one provider will decline you for life insurance after a cancer diagnosis, another provider may be more lenient. Therefore, it’s always worth hunting around to see what your options are.

Insurance brokers and advisers can help you to do this and save you some time and effort. They’ll have insider knowledge about life insurance with cancer because it’s actually quite common in the industry. They’ll know which insurance providers to approach and try to find you the best deal. 

Life insurance through work

If you’re lucky enough to get life insurance through work, you may already be covered. Some insurance policies are transferable too, so you may be able to move the policy over to a personal policy if you’re thinking of moving jobs or taking some time off.

Alternatively, some employers offer group life schemes, which often don’t require an in-depth medical check. Check out your benefits options and ask your manager at work to see if this may be an option for you.

Be aware of the cost

Unfortunately, if you have been diagnosed with cancer at any stage, you’re unlikely to be charged a standard premium. However, this does very much depend on how aggressive the cancer is, what stage it is caught at, the type of cancer and if it has affected the lymph nodes or spread.

The price will be more expensive, the more serious the cancer was because there is a higher risk. For example, skin cancer is normally seen as a lower risk and will be cheaper than if someone was diagnosed with prostate cancer. In order to assess this, it will require your insurance provider to contact your doctor or get a medical examination before it goes into underwriting.

Be aware of time periods

If your insurance provider requires a medical check and GP report it may take a bit longer to get your policy in place. This can be down to the time it takes for your GP to return the report, for appointments to be made and for results to come back.

If new evidence is found that hasn’t been declared previously, it’s likely that you’ll have to start the process again. New prices will emerge, and it may take even longer to get your policy set up.

Therefore, it’s really important that you are upfront about any medical conditions in the first instance. Even if it’s unrelated to your cancer. The quicker you can get to your appointments will also help so you can be covered sooner.

If you’ve been deferred

Some providers will give you a defer period if you’ve been declined for a policy. This can be anywhere from 1 to 5 years, depending on the severity of your condition. This is so insurance providers can determine if any re-occurrence has occurred and properly examine the risk.

Again, each insurer may have different criteria when it comes to this, so it’s worth asking (or getting your insurance adviser to do so). It is unlikely that you’ll receive cover immediately after you’ve been diagnosed. However, if the condition can be managed you are likely to get cover around 2 to 3 years afterwards.

The more time goes on, the risk becomes lower and the price becomes cheaper. Whilst it’s not recommended to go without cover at all, it is always possible to review your cover later down the line. That way you can see if you can get a cheaper premium.

What will they need to know?

Insurance providers typically ask about your health and lifestyle including medical conditions, smoking status, alcohol consumption, age, BMI and family history.

When it comes to your cancer, it will be worth explaining as much detail as possible your condition. The insurance provider will normally need to know the date when treatment was last received, the date of diagnosis, the stage of cancer, type of cancer and any further details including treatment and future checkups.


 It’s important to be aware that whilst you may be offered life cover, you may have exclusions on your policy. This may be that they won’t pay out if you pass away because of a cancer-related-condition. Particularly, if it runs in the family.

Whilst this is rare if sufficient time has passed, it may still be possible. They will also take into account other factors when it comes to exclusions so it’s always worth checking the policy conditions before accepting.

Improve your prospects

The best way to improve your prospects is to be prepared. Gather medical records and GP reports before you apply. That way, it can help the underwriters to determine the risk quicker.

It’s also worth finding a qualified insurance adviser through a brokerage so that they can compare policies and prices. It’s their bread and butter, so they will know which insurance providers to approach when it comes to life insurance after a cancer diagnosis.

What about critical illness cover?

Where there is a family history of cancer, critical illness may be possible. But this will depend on the type of cancer and the probability of you getting it. For less severe cancers, it may still be possible to get a critical illness policy. But for more aggressive or recent cases of cancer, it is unlikely that critical illness cover will be a route you can go down.

Terminal cancer

With terminal cancer, the risk is too high, and you will be unable to secure cover. However, there may be options such as a group work scheme or an over 50s life insurance policy that could help if it’s available to you. These policies don’t generally require a medical or need further information.

These policies do, however, require you to live for a minimum of 1 to 2 years.

Getting life insurance with cancer isn’t impossible, but it is understandable why so many people can be disheartened. That’s why at a lot of insurance brokers and providers will emphasise getting yourself cover whilst your fit and healthy. That way, if you are diagnosed with a condition you can have peace of mind that you’re covered.

For more advice on life insurance with cancer or obtaining a personal life insurance policy, get in touch today or request a quote.

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