If you’ve suffered from breast cancer, can you get life insurance? You can, and the likelihood of surviving the disease – and subsequently getting life insurance – has improved over the last several years.
As a result of earlier detection, improved treatment, and decreased incidence, death rates from breast cancer have been steadily decreasing since 1999, according to the American Cancer Society. While breast cancer still strikes fear in women’s hearts, the odds of surviving have increased exponentially.
It’s the leading cause of cancer in women with more than 200,000 women expected to be diagnosed with the disease each year, survivors can obtain life insurance after they’ve been successfully treated for the disease. How long after depends on a number of factors including the stage or severity of
How long after depends on a number of factors including the stage or severity of the cancer, whether it spread to other organs and if it is a repeat cancer, said principal and consulting underwriter with ARH Consulting in Eastland, Tex., Anna Hart.
Treatment and Follow-Up Is Key
Chief medical director of The Hartford’s Individual Life Division, Dr. Ann Hoven, says insurance companies don’t look at the type of treatment used to cure cancer—mastectomy versus chemotherapy—but at its overall success.
“Those with small, early stage, good risk breast cancer can get life insurance as soon as they have completed treatment and had a follow-up visit. For a later stage breast cancer, the postpone period may be 2-5 years,” said Hoven. “For more advanced breast cancer and recurrent breast cancer, the postpone period may be 5-10 years.”
Life insurance companies base their charges on several rating categories, with preferred plus being the best and cheapest while substandard is the lowest and most expensive. Hart says most survivors would be offered standard rates. Some companies will offer preferred rates for Stage 1 cancer and after a minimum of ten years without re-occurrence. She says those with recurring cancer are generally uninsurable.
Those with cancer in both breasts have a higher risk and, therefore, a higher rating than those with cancer in just one breast, Hoven adds. Hart says family history is considered as a screen for preferred exclusion, but not for possible denial.
Hart says both men and women breast cancer survivors receive the same rates. Survivors could be eligible for both term and whole life insurance.
If you’re still undergoing treatment, Hoven says The Hartford can often offer a joint life policy if your spouse/partner is in good health. If you’ve been denied life insurance in the past, Hart and Hoven recommend you try again, provided your treatments are completed and you’ve undergone the waiting period. To improve chances of getting life insurance, Hoven urges women to receive annual mammograms and screenings, maintain a healthy diet, exercise routinely and take care of other health issues like high blood pressure.