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Can You Buy Life Insurance After Breast Cancer?

Written By Doug Mitchell

Doug Mitchell, CLU holds a BA degree in Finance from Auburn University as well as having obtained a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation from The American College in Bryn Mahr, PA.  Doug has spent close to 30 years in the insurance and financial planning industry and has held licenses to sell securities, long-term care insurance, health.  Doug is also a financial blogger addressing the topics of life insurance, annuities and retirement income planning.

Holly Mitchell  &

Holly Mitchell’s background in life insurance insurance goes back to 1985 when she worked for her father who was a New York Life agent. Holly has a marketing degree from Auburn University and has had a life insurance license since 2008. In addition to advising life insurance for customers all around the country, Holly is our website fact checker.

Rob Pinner   &

Rob Pinner is the founder and CEO of Pinner Financial Services servicing all 50 states. Rob started his insurance career in 2002.

Louis LaBash

Results-driven and innovative life insurance professional with 30 plus years of life insurance industry sales and marketing experience. Recognized as a pioneer in the field, leveraging phone and internet channels to exceed personal sales of over $100 million during the first decade of the 21st century. Creator of a highly effective intuitive IUL life insurance sales software that facilitated the sale of millions of dollars of indexed universal policies by numerous life insurance agents. Proven track record as a Managing General Agent (MGA), Life Agent, IUL Life Insurance Sales Software developer, and leading-edge creator of insurance marketing tools, educational content, and delivery systems.

Table of Contents

In the past, breast cancer survivors weren’t able to qualify for life insurance at all. In part because of better treatment options and higher survival rates. However, many life insurance companies are revising their policies to offer coverage to breast cancer survivors.

According to, one in eight women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. At the same time, the death rate from breast cancer has been decreasing since 1989.

Qualifying for life insurance after surviving breast cancer is complicated, but it can be done.

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how you can go about doing it.

Is Life Insurance Out of Reach for Breast Cancer Survivors?

You may have heard stories of people getting denied for life insurance after they disclose they have had breast cancer.

Unfortunately, these stories are all too common.

There used to be a time when there was no possibility for coverage, unless you were already under an existing policy.

Fortunately, insurance companies have changed their way of dealing with cancer survivors. Many life insurance carriers offer policies to those recovering from breast cancer, but not all.

You have to do a lot of research to find which companies do provide coverage, and what types of restrictions each one has for breast cancer.

An experienced insurance broker (like myself) that is not tied down to one company can conduct this research for you. The important thing to know is that there is coverage available if you look for it.

Breast Cancer Coverage Restrictions

After you have found a company that offers insurance, the next hurdle is finding out where you sit on their eligibility scale. Underwriters are going to want to know a lot of details about your particular cancer.

This is where it all boils down to how much risk are they willing to take on to insure you.

They are going to analyze things such as family history, stage of cancer, diagnosis, tumor size, treatment and where you are in your recovery. Other considerations are statistical rate of recurrence and your individual long-term prognosis for survival.

Policy issuers approach these situations on a case-by-case basis, so there is no way to know your odds of acceptance. However, if your cancer was diagnosed between stages 0 and 3, you have a pretty good chance of being approved.

If you are healthy and in remission over five years, your chances of getting standard rates for life insurance is high.

If you are or were at stage 4 cancer, it is much more difficult to get accepted. Most people in this group are declined. Underwriters are more likely to give coverage only after a ten-year survival period.

However, there may be one company that is open-minded and willing to grant you a policy. Never give up looking.

People with recurring cancer are often excluded from coverage.

Find a Good Insurance Agent

Understanding which life insurance policy is the best fit can be overwhelming. Even without adding in the extra amount of detail that needs to be considered when looking at specific policies for breast cancer survivors.

A good insurance agent will spend time learning about your specific situation. They will get to know your health, age, and what your family needs from the life insurance policy.

He or she will also help you understand the ins and outs of each insurance policy for which you qualify. We can answer your questions.

Meet with several agents before settling with someone. Choose someone who specializes in life insurance. And if that person has experience with other breast cancer survivors, that’s even better.

An agent who sells many different types of insurance may not have as much information as an agent who specializes. And you want someone who is knowledgeable and willing to do more research on your behalf.

A good agent will understand your budget and will get to know your specific health situation. Because these two things are essential to finding the right life insurance policy.

The kind of agent with whom you want to work will ask a lot of questions, will be able to give you a quote, and will learn the ins and outs of your case.

Prepare Your Health Records

Insurance companies that offer term life insurance to breast cancer survivors need a lot of information before they can make a decision about coverage.

Your insurance agent will be able to help you get all the necessary paperwork together. But you can prepare a lot of the information yourself before you start looking at specific policies. Gather the following:

Your Health Information

Insurance companies will want to know your age at diagnosis, your menopausal status, and your family health history. Also, they’ll need to know whether you are or were a tobacco, drug, or alcohol user; and whether you have any other major health problems.

Your Cancer Information

Include what stage your cancer was in, whether it metastasized, what size the tumors were, whether your lymph nodes were involved, and any recurrences. This information can be found in your medical documents. Or, you can retrieve it from your doctor. Also include the names, addresses, and contact information for each doctor who treated you.

Your Treatment Information

Also include what kind of treatment you underwent (such as chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation). Tell the insurance company how long you underwent treatment, whether you adhered to treatment guidelines, how often treatment happened (for example, how often you received chemotherapy), and the date of your last treatment.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of every detail that you may want to provide potential insurance providers.

However, it will help you begin to gather your records. Specific companies may want certain information. Just be sure that you provide them with everything they need so you get an accurate quote.

Understand the Waiting Periods

If you are a very recent breast cancer survivor, you may not be able to get life insurance right away. That does not mean that the door to life insurance is closed to you forever. But understanding when to apply will help you through the process.

Different insurance companies will have specific policies on the matter. But the general rule is that if you’ve been cancer-free for three to five years after surviving stage 2 or 3 breast cancer, you likely will qualify for a policy.

If you had stage 4, most companies need you to be cancer-free for 10 years or more. Unfortunately, cancer recurrences make your chances of qualifying for life insurance significantly less.

Watch the Underwriting Guidelines

Breast cancer survivors used to have to wait longer than they do now to get insurance coverage. Before that, most cancer survivors did not qualify for life insurance. Since the time limit has decreased in the past, it may change again.

Perhaps your specific cancer diagnosis currently requires you to be in remission for five years before you qualify for term life insurance.

However, two years from now, policies may change. Don’t give up on getting a life insurance policy just because of the waiting periods. Stay on top of the latest changes. Because life insurance isn’t set in stone, and a policy change may benefit you.

Take Care of Yourself

Perhaps it may seem redundant. But continuing to take care of yourself even after you’ve survived breast cancer is essential when it comes to qualifying for life insurance.

Don’t miss any appointments with your doctor, and make sure that your medical records are completely up-to-date. Especially as they relate to any lasting cancer treatments or medications.

Plus, regular doctor’s visits will help you amass the details that insurance companies want to see. Establishing your current health condition, especially any improvements, is key in finding life insurance.

If the insurance company wants to know how long you’ve been in remission, for example, the more details that you and your doctor can provide, the better.

If you haven’t followed up with your doctor as much as is recommended (or at all), then insurance providers have no way of knowing the information about recurrence that they need to determine coverage.

Policies for cancer survivors are more expensive, but consider the peace of mind that you’ll get knowing your family is protected and taken care of.

Ultimately, the most important thing is that you and your family have already won an immeasurable battle, and you deserve the sense of security that a life insurance policy can provide.

If you’re looking for insurance to cover final expenses, we can help with this as well. Let us help you get the coverage you deserve.

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Final Expense Insurance

For those who cannot otherwise qualify for a policy, final expense insurance is a way to secure a small amount of coverage, guaranteed. One cannot be denied or turned down, for any reason.

However, because of this, there are some restrictions on the policies themselves, as well as how they will end up paying out.

For example, most final expense insurance policies are limited to a maximum death benefit no greater than $25,000. While a simple way to combat this would be buying a policy from more than one company, this brings up the second point.

These policies are very expensive; when you compare them dollar-to-dollar to any other type of life insurance, they are the most costly when broken down by the rate they are charged per $1,000.

Lastly, they don’t pay out the same way a fully underwritten policy does. Because they are guaranteeing coverage, the life insurance company has to build in some downside protection for those who are in the worst of health.

To do this, they limit the percentage of death benefit which will be offered in the first two or three years (depends on company). They may offer a small percentage after the first year, a greater percentage after the next, and, finally, after the third year, pay the full benefit.

Call us today for a quote at 1-800-712-8519.

Doug Mitchell, CLU

Doug Mitchell, CLU

Doug Mitchell, CLU holds a BA degree in Finance from Auburn University as well as having obtained a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation from The American College in Bryn Mahr, PA. Doug has spent close to 30 years in the life insurance and financial planning industry and has held licenses to sell securities, long-term care insurance, health. Some other notable items about Doug: Top of the Table Million Dollar Round Table member (MDRT). (MDRT is a global, independent association of the world’s leading life insurance advisors) | Premier Partner with Lincoln Financial and Cabinet Member | Served two years as President of the Auburn/Opelika Association of Financial Advisors | Life Millionaire status at Horace Mann Insurance Company and was awarded the Life Agent of the Year Award | New York Life, Executive Council Member | Currently serves as President of Ogletree Financial, a life insurance General Agency. | Doug is also a financial blogger addressing the topics of life insurance, annuities and retirement income planning.

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