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Can You Get Life Insurance If You Have Cancer?


Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be terrifying. It can also be a wake-up call when it comes to determining if your family is provided for. If you’ve never obtained health insurance before, you may wonder if you can get life insurance if you have cancer. Luckily, the answer is yes. Life insurance coverage can be harder to find and more expensive if you have cancer, but it’s still possible. We’ll go over the details.

financial advisor can help you create a financial plan for your health costs and needs. 

Determining How Much Coverage You Need

There are many ways to determine how much life insurance coverage you need. Generally speaking, the more coverage you have, the higher your premiums will be. For someone who is considered a higher risk to insure, like a cancer patient, you can expect your premiums to be significant. If you have children under the age of 18, you may not need as much as you think.

Social Security survivor benefits are available to them. And it may pay enough to keep your family afloat depending on your personal benefits estimate. And it can also depend on your household’s spending and other income. You can find the exact amount your dependents would be eligible for in survivor’s benefits by setting up a My Social Security account at

In addition to any survivor benefits, you’ll want to make sure you’re leaving behind enough to pay the bills. Doing so will help your family not have to worry about money while they’re grieving. A general rule of thumb recommended by most planners is to have 10 to 15 times your annual income in life insurance. But you can see a personalized number by using our “How Much Life Insurance Do I Need?” calculator.

Whole Life Insurance vs. Term Life Insurance Policies

Life insurance policies are typically available as whole policies or term policies.

Whole life insurance policies can last from when you initially buy them until your death. And that is as long as you continue to pay the premiums. Whole life insurance is typically more expensive and is more life insurance coverage than most people will need, but it can be a tool to avoid estate taxes for the ultrarich.

Term life insurance policies last for a fixed period of time. In general, term policies tend to be much cheaper to get. And that is an important consideration if you’re already paying higher premiums as a result of your cancer status. The longer the term length, the more you’ll pay in premiums.

Term policies are most commonly 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. To determine what term length you need, consider your family’s financial situation. For example, if your mortgage will be paid off in eight years, you may likely only need a 10-year term. Another example, is if you have quadruplets with their hearts set on expensive liberal arts schools that will start college in 11 years, you may want a 15-year term.

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance Policies

SmartAsset: can you get life insurance if you have cancer?

If you currently have cancer, have only been in remission for a short period of time, or have had certain types of cancer, you may only be able to get a direct issue or guaranteed issue life insurance policy.

These types of policies are generally considered a policy of last resort for people who don’t qualify for traditional life insurance policies. With a guaranteed issue or direct issue life insurance policy, no medical underwriting occurs so you can qualify for insurance regardless of your current cancer status.

These policies are significantly more expensive than comparable policies because they’ll accept anyone. Most guaranteed issue policies will not actually pay out benefits if you pass within the first two to three years of having them. If you do pass within two years of getting a guaranteed issue policy, any premiums you’ve paid with interest will be returned to your loved ones.

Where to Find Life Insurance

Working with a financial advisor can help you determine how much you need in life insurance you need. And they can also help determine how long you need your term length to be. They can connect you with qualified life insurance agents in your area to get competitive quotes that will work with your condition.

Another option is to use an online tool to get quotes for life insurance. And when you find the quote that fits your needs, contact individual companies for coverage. Keep in mind that you may end up wasting some time contacting companies who won’t insure you with your current cancer status.

Working with a qualified local agent licensed to sell life insurance is your best bet. If your cancer treatment center has a support group, you may be able to ask around and find out who other patients have used it.

How to Choose a Policy

First and foremost, you’ll want to choose a policy that provides the coverage you need at a price you can afford. You’ll also want to review your policy for any cancellation clauses that can leave you stuck without insurance with little notice.

For term life insurance policies, your premiums should remain steady. But look out for any policies that allow your premiums to increase. Make sure you understand how much your premiums can increase and how quickly they can be raised.

The Bottom Line

SmartAsset: can you get life insurance if you have cancer?

It’s possible to get life insurance if you have cancer. But you’ll pay more, and it will take you more time to find the best policy. Working with a financial advisor can help you determine how much coverage you need and for how long. Make sure to balance how much you’ll want to leave to your family with what you can afford to continue paying. Life insurance does your loved ones no good if the premiums are unaffordable and you miss payments in the months before your passing.

Insurance Tips

  • Insurance should be considered part of your overall financial plan. You can get help with your insurance needs by finding a financial advisor. Finding a financial advisor who fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Term and whole life are not your only choices when it comes to life insurance. For example, whole life is only one type of what’s called permanent life insurance. There are several other types of permanent life insurance you should be aware of. Also, before making a decision, be sure to use a free calculator to assess how much you really need.

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