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Life Insurance After Lung Cancer

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If you have any type of adverse health condition, like cancer, it can often be more difficult to qualify for life insurance. Buying life insurance after lung cancer can multiply the challenge exponentially, depending on several different factors.

According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer is actually the most common type of cancer around the globe. There are approximately 1.8 million new cases of lung cancer diagnosed each year.

Unfortunately, the average survival rate for lung cancer is lower than many other types of cancer. For example, the five year survival rate for someone with lung cancer is 54% but only if the disease is detected early and still localized within the individual’s lungs.

Otherwise, for more than half of those who are diagnosed with lung cancer, death occurs within one year. This is why it can be quite difficult to obtain life insurance after a lung cancer diagnosis.

Underwriting For Life Insurance After Lung Cancer

As with all life insurance applicants, you will need to complete a basic life insurance application for coverage when applying for a policy. This will ask you for information regarding your age, gender, contact information, height and weight, the type and amount of coverage you’re applying for, and your family health history.

In addition to the basic information, if you have been diagnosed with lung cancer, the life insurance underwriters will want to know as much as possible about your condition, as well as any treatment you’ve received, so they can make the most informed decision possible regarding your insurance coverage. Greater risk means higher premiums, or even declines.

In addition to the information on the application for coverage, additional details the insurance company will want to know include:

  • The age you were initially diagnosed with lung cancer
  • The stage and grade of lung cancer you have
  • The size and location of the tumor
  • Whether or not there was any recurrence following your recovery
  • How you are treating your condition
  • How often you are following up with your doctor, and the results
  • What medication(s) you are taking (and the dosage), where applicable
  • Whether or not you are a tobacco user
  • Whether you have any additional health issues

The insurance company will also want to review your medical records. They will request this information from your primary care physician, your oncologist, other cancer specialists, or all of the above. In addition, you will also be required to take a medical examination which will include meeting with a paramedical professional and providing a blood and urine sample.

Possible Outcomes to Expect

First, there are several different stages of lung cancer, and each can present different outcomes. These stages include:

  1. Stage 0 (or In Situ) – In Stage 0, presence of abnormal cells are found in the lungs, but are very localized and can be dormant.
  2. Stage 1 – In Stage 1, the cancer is found only in the lung, and it has not yet spread into the lymph nodes or other areas of the body;
  3. Stage 2 – In Stage 2, the cancer is in the lung, and it has also begun to spread into the nearby lymph nodes;
  4. Stage 3 – In Stage 3, the cancer is in the lung and lymph nodes, and it is described as being “locally advanced”;
  5. Stage 4 – In Stage 4, the cancer is considered to be the most advanced. In this stage, it has spread to both of the person’s lungs, as well as to the fluid around the lungs, and / or to other areas of the individual’s body, such as the liver or other vital bodily organs.

After reviewing the information from the application, as well as any additional details from your medical professionals, the life insurance underwriters will be in a better position to make a decision about coverage. Your stage, both at diagnosis and at its worst, is the largest determining factor of what you’re eligible for.

The best chance of getting a good underwriting outcome will occur when lung cancer was diagnosed at an early stage, like In Situ or Stage I. (Note, it is probable you will receive an adverse rating if you apply too soon after completing cancer treatment. Applying while still receiving treatment will nearly always result in a postponement or decline, so it is best to wait for at least one year or more.)

While low stage diagnoses of lung cancer can result in as good as Standard rates, Stage II will likely lead to mild to moderate Sub-Standard rates. These are where the insurance company will offer coverage, but add Tables, or percentages of increase on the base premium. Each Table, up to Table 10, increases the base cost by 25%. In addition, Stage II will require several years from your last date of testing positive for cancer in the lungs, otherwise you’ll get postponed.

At Stage III and IV, you’re probably going to need to look into graded or guaranteed coverage, though even these can be difficult because of the mortality rates for patients of late stage lung cancer. Expect high premiums, delayed (usually 2-3 years) or partial payouts, and low death benefit availability.

Taking The Next Step

While lung cancer is a serious health issue, it doesn’t have to stop you from obtaining the life insurance coverage you need to provide your loved ones with financial protection. Having someone on your side who knows how to navigate the waters for high risk insurance can help you in finding your available options at more reasonable prices.

That’s what we do.

We can point you towards the right carrier in the early stage of the application process. We can also work with you in speeding up the application process, as we are well versed in knowing what to anticipate throughout the underwriting timeline.

If you’re ready to get started, just fill out the form on the sidebar to get started.


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.