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Life Insurance After Breast Cancer

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Several hundred thousand new cases of breast cancer are discovered every single year all across America. While technology is advancing and awareness is expanding faster than ever, this is still an extremely significant disease where not all battles are won.

Fortunately, when comparing breast cancer to other types of cancer, survival rates are much improved.

One topic which arises when any person is faced with a potentially life threatening disease is one of protecting themselves and their families financially. Its not an easy discussion, but there is good news. Today we’re discussing the topic how women can protect their families by accessing affordable life insurance after breast cancer.

How To Get Affordable Life Insurance After Breast Cancer

The harshest reality for consumers to face when they suddenly see am immediate need for life insurance is how much more difficult the path before them just became. Barely more than half the population has coverage, even though only two thirds ever even reach retirement age.

For those who had breast cancer, the priority of owning life insurance is now much more apparent, but companies are obviously now less inclined to make an offer due to the long term risks.

In fact, even if you haven’t had breast cancer before, you can still be at a disadvantage if it runs in your family already.

When you apply to any insurance company, they’re assessing the level of risk you pose to them, both now and in the future. The higher the risk, the higher the premium. Even though breast cancer has becoming significantly less lethal than year’s previous, not all women survive the first fight, and many face cancer more than once. These are the risks underwriters are looking for.

The Process

If you need life insurance and breast cancer is on your medical history, you can already expect a more rigorous process to purchasing life insurance. While you may have found coverage through work, a club or organization, or other entity, you may either be paying too much or not have portability (meaning if you left your job, you lose your insurance).

To get a policy you can keep, no matter what your circumstances are, at the cheapest rates, you’ll need an independent agent. This is an agent who works with tens of carriers, not just one. Your local car or homeowner’s insurance agent is likely not your best choice.

The first step is discovery. The agent is your field underwriter, meaning they are going to be able to give you a good idea of exactly what you can get even before you apply. For this to be accurate, you’ll need to accurately disclose several elements of your breast cancer history. Here are a few questions you’ll need to answer up front:

  • What is the original date of your diagnosis, and how old were you at the time?
  • What stage was the cancer (in-situ, I, II, III, IV) at your diagnosis? Did it worsen?
  • Was there evidence of lymph node involvement at the time of your diagnosis, or did it develop?
  • How was the cancer treated/removed:
    – Excisional Biopsy?
    – Lumpectomy/Wide excision?
    – Mastectomy?
    – Radiation?
    – Chemotherapy?
    – Hormonal therapy?
  • What medications were taken, or are being currently used?
  • What was the last date treatment was advised?
  • Were there any recurring incidences? If so, how many?

Once you’ve supplied the agent with these bits of information, they should be able to offer you insight into what type of policy you may be eligible for, as well as what range of premiums you might expect. At this point, they may not be completely accurate just yet, however, the agent should be able to get more precise answers from the insurance company’s underwriters in the next 48 hours.

Other factors which could influence your rating are your family history with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or kidney disease, your height and weight (BMI), any other health conditions you have dealt with, both physically and mentally. Even your driving record and previous criminal record could play a role.

If there is a good chance of success, you could go ahead and apply. The application can be taken over the phone and signed using an e-signature, and your medical exam date should be scheduled as soon as possible.

The medical exam involves a third party nurse coming to your residence or work to measure height, weight, and blood pressure, as well as taking both blood and urine samples to have sent for laboratory testing. In some instances, EKG could be required, but is reserved for older applicants or those applying for larger policies.

In the meantime, the underwriter’s will be accessing your prescription history, driving record, criminal record, and more. When all information is obtained from you, your doctor’s and specialists, the underwriter can begin making a determination.

Possible Ratings You Can Expect

The first and most major determination of your rating is the stage of your cancer. Obviously all other details much be taken into account, but the stage of your cancer will have very defining impacts immediately.


If your case of breast cancer was localized and had not spread (also called ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS), you’ll be eligible for a traditionally underwritten life insurance policy as high as a Standard rating. You may have a wide range of carriers to choose from, however you’ll need to be, at minimum, a year apart from your last date of treatment and resolve.

Stage I

Stage I, as far as life insurance is concerned, is still very mild. The size of your tumor, if applicable, cannot exceed 2 cm and should not have advanced past breast tissue. This can still result in a traditional life insurance policy as high as Standard rates, though the time frame from last treatment may be pushed to 2 years or more.

If, however, you also have minor spread to lymph nodes, which is considered Stage IB, you will probably see your first level of Sub-Standard risk levels, meaning you’ll pay more per thousand on a percentage basis. (see, Table Ratings)

Stage II

Stage II is the final stage you may be eligible for a traditional life insurance policy inside of 10 years from the date of your last treatment. Inside this time frame, carriers will postpone or decline, and you’ll need to seek out a graded or guaranteed policy.

Tumors cannot exceed 5 cm if there is no spread to lymph nodes, and a maximum of 2 cm if the spread to axillary or breastbone lymph nodes. You can expect a Sub-Standard policy, at best, with ratings falling up to several levels below Standard. In some cases, flat extra fees can be applied due to severity, time frame, or even secondary health risks.

Stage III

Stage III breast cancer usually bumps most applicants beyond traditional term or permanent insurance, meaning you’ll need to seek graded or guaranteed life insurance coverage regardless of time frame. If your original diagnosis or its progression reached Stage III, speak to an agent about your options before attempting any policy type.

If the breast cancer exceeded tumors of 5cm, cancer cells had grouped in several lymph nodes, and exterior signs such as inflammation and redness are present, your application could be declined.

Stage IV

Stage IV, known as metastic, patients will only be eligible for guaranteed policies. These are policies where there is no underwriting and coverage is guaranteed as long as you meet basic requirements, such as age and ability to pay. This type of policy is the least affordable, per thousand, but can help with final expenses.

Final Thoughts

It can be a long road to getting accepted for life insurance after breast cancer, so be prepared to wait.

While guaranteed policies are issued in days, traditional term life or permanent life can takes weeks to several months. This is largely due to the insurance company needing records from several sources; you can speed up the process by letting your doctors know they can expect a call from the carrier.

If you have further questions, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help. Higher risk policies are our specialty, and, chances are, we’ve helped someone just like you.


Jason Fisher

Jason Fisher is the founder and CEO of, LLC. and a multi-state licensed life insurance agent who has helped over a million Americans seek out affordable coverage, compare quotes, or get their family and businesses covered.