Let’s be clear right from the start: qualifying for life insurance after liver cancer is often a difficult and time-consuming process.
Liver cancer is a more serious pre-existing medical condition for an underwriter to look at. It often has serious symptoms, a poor prognosis, and cannot be fully cured.
Insurance writers judge these factors harshly. If you do qualify for traditional coverage, it will almost certainly be at a lower rating class than normal.
However, there are certain ways to increase your chances of qualifying, and receiving a much better value. There are also a number of life insurance alternatives for those who are denied from traditional coverage.
Below, we look at everything you need to know about applying, and ultimately qualifying, for life insurance after liver cancer.
What is Liver Cancer?
As the name implies, liver cancer is cancer of the liver organ, or its immediate tissues.
The growth of cancer begins in the liver, but can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated.
According to Cancer.org, diagnosing liver cancer in its early stages is difficult because it’s often without early symptoms.
Symptoms tend to only develop later on when the cancer is already more severe.
The most common of these later symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Pain in the stomach
- Vomiting and nausea
- Yellow skin and eyes
Other symptoms include an enlarged liver or spleen, itching, and feeling very full after not eating very much.
Because liver cancer is often diagnosed later rather than early, treatment tends to start once the cancer is already quite severe.
Not only does this make the disease more difficult to treat, but it also means liver cancer is judged more harshly than some other cancers by life insurance underwriters.
The treatments used vary from patient to patient and doctor to doctor but tend to include chemotherapy, radiation, and even liver transplant. Some cases will require a surgical procedure to remove part of the liver.
Another reason liver cancer is judged so harshly by life insurance companies is the liver is such an important organ.
A damaged, sick, or improperly functioning liver can lead to a wide range of other problems throughout the body.
However, it’s essential to note the specifics of your case, including when you were diagnosed, the severity of your symptoms, and the success of your treatments, dictate whether or not you will qualify for life insurance.
In fact, the biggest factor most providers will take into consideration is what “stage” your liver cancer was at when treatment began.
The earlier your liver cancer was diagnosed and treatment began, the better the chance you’ll qualify for traditional coverage.
Who Gets Liver Cancer?
Certain people are at a much greater risk for liver cancer than others.
If you fall into one of these groups, it’s important to visit a doctor on a regular basis so you catch any developing cancer early on before it becomes severe.
Of course, just because you’re at a greater risk for liver cancer than other people doesn’t necessarily meant you’ll ever develop it – you’re just at a greater risk.
According to The Mayo Clinic, the top risk factors for liver cancer include:
They go on to state the greatest risk factor is excessive alcohol consumption. In addition to causing diseases like cirrhosis, alcohol itself damages the liver and increases your risk of developing liver cancer.
This is why it’s so important to avoid alcohol if you have liver problems. Moderation is okay, but abstinence is by far your best bet.
Another top tip to help manage liver problems, as well as increase your appeal with life insurance providers, is to maintain a healthy weight with a good diet and regular exercise.
Questions You’ll Be Asked
Applying for life insurance, with or without a history of liver cancer, starts with filling out the application.
Though some companies now provide expedited electronic applications, you’ll more than likely be required to apply the old-fashioned way if you have liver cancer.
This means you can expect to wait 4 to 6 weeks before receiving an answer. An underwriter will review your application during this time.
They will then come to a decision on whether or not their company should offer you life insurance coverage, and, if so, at what level.
The most basic questions asked on the application are questions about your overall health and lifestyle, including whether or not you smoke.
After you note you’ve had a history of liver cancer, you’ll be asked a string of more thorough questions.
You can expect to answer questions such as:
- When was your liver cancer diagnosed?
- What stage was the cancer at diagnosis?
- What were your initial symptoms and what are they now?
- What treatments and medications did you take?
- What is your current prognosis?
Remember, it’s essential to be completely honest and upfront with your answers. Because a medical exam is required, there’s no point in fudging your answers.
The Approval and Application Process
The application process for life insurance isn’t complicated.
Despite the need to take a medical exam and fill out the application, it’s simple and straightforward.
As mentioned above, the approval step of the application process is the most time-consuming and lengthy.
You can expect to wait between 4 and 6 weeks for approval depending on the specific life insurance company you applied to.
Your Life Insurance Options
The vast majority of those with liver cancer will be denied from traditional life insurance coverage.
The big exception is those diagnosed with “stage one” liver cancer. This is when the cancer is diagnosed and treated early on.
Despite being able to qualify for traditional coverage, most of those with “stage one” liver cancer will only qualify for a Standard, or normal rate.
Those who have been diagnosed with “stage two” liver cancer will have a much more difficult time qualifying for traditional coverage.
Most life insurance providers will require those with “stage two” liver cancer to wait at least 7 to 10 years after their diagnosis before offering coverage – and this is only if symptoms have been successfully treated during that time.
Unfortunately, those with “stage three” or “stage four” cancer will not qualify for traditional life insurance coverage.
However, other options are available, such as life insurance alternatives like guaranteed life insurance.
Find the Best Life Insurance After Liver Cancer
Don’t lose hope about qualifying for life insurance after liver cancer.
Depending on the specifics of your situation, you still might qualify for affordable rates for traditional coverage.
The key is to apply anyways, to several companies, and see what happens. You just might find one who is willing to extend a decent premium your way.
And if you don’t qualify for traditional coverage, there are still several life insurance alternatives which are well worth looking into.