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Life insurance and cancer

LifeSearch author Katie Crook-Davies
5 min read

by Katie Crook-Davies, Protection Writer

See author bio

Katie works with insurers and distributors to make protection propositions more accessible, pricing more transparent and marketing messages more simple.See author bio

Guide last reviewed 10 Oct 2023

Sadly, cancer is a disease that has touched almost all of us, either personally or through a friend or family member. It’s a scary disease, often leaving people fearing the worst. Life insurance is a product that can provide financial peace of mind during these difficult times, but if you have, or have had cancer, you may be wondering if you can get life insurance. Here we cover everything you need to know and show you how you can get your family protected.


Can I get life insurance if I’ve had cancer?

More people are getting diagnosed with cancer today than ever before [1], in fact, one in two of us[2] will face cancer in our lifetimes, but the good news is that cancer survival has doubled over the last 50 years [3], thanks to medical advances. This means that there are a huge number of people who have faced and survived the disease, and who now want to secure a future they weren’t sure they’d have - but that’s laced with uncertainty. 

That’s where life insurance comes in, providing a lump sum amount of money to your loved ones should the worst happen. It means that your family can pay off outstanding debts, like a mortgage, cover regular living expenses and monthly bills, and generally reduce any financial stress at a tough emotional time.

Today, most people who have survived cancer can take out life insurance. But cancer is a complex illness, and insurers will need to gather extra medical information to fully understand your cancer and assess your chances of claiming on the policy.

In addition to asking the above questions, insurers will usually need to ask your GP or consultant for additional information, so that they can form a complete picture of the cancer and therefore your health. They may also ask for a medical examination to be completed. Please rest assured that insurers can only access your personal medical records with your permission, but bear in mind that they may not be able to cover you if you decide not to provide access to this information.

Insurers usually require you to have a number of years in remission, typically two to three years, before you can apply for a life insurance policy. This is because the risk of your cancer returning is highest during your first few years in remission. If you apply for life insurance, it’s likely that either your application will be declined, or the insurer will postpone cover until you’ve reached the required time period in remission. It’s also worth knowing that some cancers may mean you won’t be able to get cover at all once you’re in remission, depending on the initial type of cancer and on the severity of it.

Can I get life insurance if I have, or suspect that I have, cancer?

If you are currently facing cancer, or suspect that you have cancer, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to take out life insurance. But that’s not to say that you won’t be able to in the future, for example, once you’ve been in remission for a period of time. If you or your GP suspect cancer, the insurer will need to see the results of any diagnostic tests to determine if they can insure you. If cancer is found, then they will only be able to cover you once you’re in remission.

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can cause a lot of stress and worry, and the temptation can be to take out life insurance to protect against the worst happening. In doing so, some people may not be completely honest about their recent diagnosis, but this approach rarely ends well. Even if you have a life insurance policy, insurers can actually refuse to pay your claim if they find out you didn’t tell the truth when you applied for the policy, leaving your family unprotected when you’re no longer around. Insurers want to protect people, but to do this they need applicants to be completely truthful, so it’s really important to be open and honest when you apply for your life insurance policy.

Can I get life insurance if a family member has cancer?

Certain cancers are hereditary in nature, which means that they are linked with genes which can be passed from parents to children. When you apply for a life insurance policy, the insurer may ask if your parents or siblings were diagnosed with these cancers before a certain age, usually 65.

If the answer is ‘yes’, you can probably still be insured, but you may see your monthly premium increase to reflect your potentially higher cancer risk.

How much does life insurance cost?

In addition, your health will play a large part. When it comes to cancer, the staging and grading of the cancer, the treatment received, and the time in remission, will all contribute to the final cost, as well as family medical history. As a simple rule, the more likely you are to claim on your policy, the more expensive your cover will be.

If you’re currently in remission and considering life insurance, it’s really important to do your research because insurers take very different views when it comes to cancer. At LifeSearch, we’re proud to be the largest UK specialist protection broker, which means that we work closely with leading UK insurers and really understand what they can offer to cancer survivors. Request a call back from one of our helpful advisers who will find the best life insurance policy for you.

I’ve been declined life insurance, what are my options?

Don’t worry, there are a number of options that we can explore. First, every insurer has a different approach, so where some may be quite strict and decline applicants who have had cancer in the past, others will take a more understanding approach. We’re experts at finding the right insurer for you, based on your personal circumstances, so if you’ve been declined life insurance, call us on 0800 316 7253 to discuss your options.

For some people, traditional life insurance just isn’t available, but there is still a way to get protected, and that’s with over 50s insurance. This is a life insurance product designed for people over the age of 50. There are no medical questions and these policies are what we call ‘guaranteed acceptance’, because anyone who applies can get covered, regardless of their medical history. These are great policies if you’re struggling to get life insurance, but they can wind up quite expensive.





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LifeSearch author Katie Crook-Davies
Katie Crook-Davies Protection Writer
Katie is an independent insurance consultant who is passionate about protection and wants to share that passion with others through engaging marketing content. She hopes that one day people will get as excited about protecting themselves and their loved ones, as she does!
See all articles by Katie Crook-Davies
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