When applying for life insurance, there are various aspects of the application process which can make qualifying for coverage a challenge. Having a serious health issue such as cancer is certainly one of them.
Anyone who is looking to buy a policy has a certain need they’re looking to cover, whether it’s for their dependents, their business, or even their estate. Buying life insurance after throat cancer, while more difficult, shouldn’t be an impossible hurdle so these same needs can be met.
Today we’re discussing what makes it more difficult to get covered after having throat cancer, and what you can do to prepare yourself for the greatest chance of approval.
Simplifying Life Insurance After Throat Cancer
Throat cancer is considered to be a type of cancer which affects an individual’s voice box, as well as their vocal cords and other parts of the throat, including the oropharynx and the tonsils. This particular type of cancer is actually grouped into two different categories. These include:
Pharyngeal Cancer – This type of cancer forms in an individual’s pharynx, which is the tube which runs behind the nose and down to the top of the windpipe.
Laryngeal Cancer – This type of cancer is formed in the larynx, which is otherwise known as the voice box.
In comparison to other types of cancer, throat cancer is not considered to be common. In fact, it has been estimated by the National Cancer Institute only about 1.1% of adults will be diagnosed with pharyngeal cancer, and less than .5% will have a diagnosis of laryngeal cancer in their lifetime.
As with many other types of cancer, throat cancer has several different stages. These include the following:
- Stage 0 – In Stage 0, the tumor has only invaded the tissue in the individual’s throat and has not moved beyond the localized area.
- Stage 1 – In Stage 1, while the tumor is not more than 7 cm, it is limited only to the individual’s throat area.
- Stage 2 – In Stage 2, while the tumor is still limited to only the throat and immediate area, it is now larger than 7 cm in size.
- Stage 3 – In Stage 3, the tumor is continuing to expand, and it is also moving to the individual’s other bodily tissues and organs.
- Stage 4 – In Stage 4, the tumor has continued to spread, now moving into the individual’s lymph nodes and / or other bodily organs.
One of the primary causes of throat cancer is smoking. Other causes of this disease can include poor dental hygiene, exposure to asbestos, a vitamin A deficiency, and excessive alcohol consumption.
There are several different treatment options for throat cancer. The survival rates can vary for this disease, depending on the treatment given, and how well an individual actually responds to the treatment. For this reason, there can be a definite effect on a person’s life insurance application.
Information You’ll Need to Provide
When applying for coverage, you will need to fully complete a life insurance application. This will ask you for information about your age, gender, height and weight, health, and family health history. It will also ask about the type and amount of coverage you are applying for.
In addition to this basic application, the life insurance underwriters will want to know more in depth details about your throat cancer, specifically, as well as any treatment options you have undergone over time because of your condition. In order to obtain the information they need, you will be asked some or all of the following types of questions:
- When was your initial diagnosis of throat cancer?
- What stage was your throat cancer?
- Did the throat cancer spread to your lymph nodes?
- Do you smoke or use other tobacco products?
- What method of treatment did you use for your throat cancer condition? (Laryngectomy, Chemotherapy, Flap Surgery, Neck Dissection, Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy, Radiation Therapy)
- When did you begin your throat cancer treatment?
- When did your throat cancer treatment end?
- Do you take / Did you take any medication for your throat cancer? (Carboplatin, Cisplatin (Platinol-AQ), Paclitaxel (Abraxane))
- If so, what was the dosage?
- Do you have any other health issues?
In addition to this information, the underwriters will also want to review your medical records from your primary doctor, otolaryngologist and from your oncologist. Any other records which would be found at treatment centers or hospitals can also be requested.
Also, as a part of the underwriting process for life insurance coverage, you will be required to take a medical examination. During this exam, you will be asked to give a blood and a urine sample. The examiner will also take a current measure of your height, weight, and blood pressure.
After all of your information has been received by the insurance company, a determination can then be made regarding your risk. The ability to obtain coverage, as well as the policy classification, will be dependent on a variety of different factors, including:
- The stage of cancer you had
- How you responded to treatment
- Whether or not your cancer spread
- If your lymph nodes were involved
- Whether or not you have a history with tobacco use
Depending on the stage, and assuming no other health conditions or risk factors present, here are some of the ratings one might be able to receive:
For those who were diagnosed as a Stage 0, you’ll have the best possible outcomes available to you assuming there was no spread and all treatments were successful. After a year from the date of last treatment, you could be eligible for as high as Standard rates, though some carriers will add an additional flat extra fee. The underlying assumptions are a good family history of cancer, no tobacco use, and an otherwise risk free case.
Stage 1 patients will not be eligible for Standard, though after several years, may be able to achieve a mild to moderate Sub-Standard rate. Flat extra fees are common, which make it more expensive, but the cost per thousand would still be cheaper than alternative types of policies. Heavier weight on treatment or surgery types, medications, and time frame from the date of last treatment are in order.
For those who were diagnosed with or had progressed to Stage 2, underwriting for traditional life insurance policies will be all over the board. Some companies may see you as a moderate or high Sub-Standard, others will decline the case right away. The more detail you can provide up front, the better.
For Stage 3 throat cancer patients, because of the expansion of cancer cells to other parts of the body, a graded life insurance policy would be best case scenario, though guaranteed is much more probable.
As a stage 4 throat cancer patient, expect the only and final option to be a guaranteed life insurance policy.
Because all life insurance carriers are different, it may still be possible to qualify for a policy, even if you have been turned down in the past, thought it hurts your chances. This is why it’s imperative you select the right company the first time.
One option for those who have various health issues is to go with a graded or guaranteed life insurance policy, but as mentioned, should be your last option. Because there is not a medical examination required and very few health questions (if any) are asked, this type of coverage can open the door for many who would otherwise be turned down for traditional, medically underwritten life insurance plans.
The downside, however, is limited death benefit amounts, and either partial or delayed payouts in the first few policy years.
Although throat cancer is certainly a serious health condition, it should not preclude you from moving forward with an application for the life insurance protection you need. We can help you find the right policy and the right carrier.
Impaired risk underwriting is our specialty.
When you’re ready to move forward and find the life insurance plan that’s right for you and your situation, you can get started by filling out the form on the sidebar now.