Life Insurance for Cancer Patients

Life insurance for cancer patients may be challenging to find. If you owned a policy before being diagnosed with cancer, it might be able to help cover your medical expenses. You will likely not find life insurance for terminal cancer patients. Speak with an insurance agent or financial advisor to learn more about protecting your family's financial wealth in case you pass away.

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has two years' experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. He is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Reviewed by Benji Carr
Former Licensed Life Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Feb 11, 2021

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Quick Facts

  • Most insurance companies require cancer patients to be in remission to qualify for a life insurance policy.
  • If you have a life insurance policy before you are diagnosed, it may be able to help you pay for medical treatments.
  • Those seeking life insurance for cancer patients may find it helpful to speak with an insurance agent.

Getting a cancer diagnosis can be scary, but it can make it a little bit easier if you know that your family is protected in the event that you pass away.

Term or permanent life insurance for cancer patients may be difficult to find, but pre-existing policies and policies for those in remission can be helpful.

Before you begin reading, enter your ZIP code into our free quote comparison tool above to get quotes from life insurance companies in your area.

Can you get life insurance with cancer?

Life insurers consider their customers’ health extremely important since your health can significantly impact your life expectancy.

Cancer patients may be able to find life insurance, but it will depend on a lot of different factors, such as the type and stage of cancer you have. However, many life insurance companies will require that you are in remission.

For most types of cancer, life insurance companies may want you to be in remission for at least a couple of years, but you may qualify sooner if your type of cancer has a higher survival rate, such as skin or prostate cancer. Take a look at some of the average waiting times below:

Average Life Insurance Waiting Period for Cancer Survivors by Cancer Type
Type of CancerLikely Waiting PeriodOther Factors
Breast1 to 5 yearsDependent upon stage
Lung3 to 5 yearsWith Stage 1 consideration can be three years from the end of treatment; Stage 2 is typically 5 years
Colorectal1 to 6 yearsStage 1, 2, and 3 have different waits
Uterine2 to 5 yearsStage 0 or 1 may qualify after 2 years, but rates will be high. After 4 to 5 years rates may be better. Beyond Stage 2, applicants will likely be denied
Hodgkins and Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma3 to 10 yearsTime period is for Stages 1 & 2 only; others will likely be denied
Prostate6 months to 2 yearsStages 1&2, A, B can be as short as 6 months; Stage 3, C is likely 2 years
Bladder1 to 3 years or greater1 to 2 for Stage A; 3 or greater for Stage B
Melanoma1 to 5 years1 year for early detection; 2 to 5 years for deeper lesions; not at all for metastatic cancer
Testicular6 months to 2 years6 months for cancer that has not spread; 2 years for most others
Leukemia5 to 10 yearsDependent upon type; some are not insurable
Kidney1 to 5 yearsT0 & T1 wait is 1 to 2 years; T2 & T3 can be up to 5 years
Pancreatic2 yearsThe waiting period only applies when cancer is detected in early stages; others will be declined
Cervical0 to 1 yearFor Stage 1 or in-situ cancer
Esophageal3 yearsDependent upon stage
Larynx1 yearDependent upon stage
Ovarian1 to 5 years or moreDependent upon the stage and whether or not cancer has metastasized
Bone5 years or moreDependent upon type; some are not insurable
Basal Cell Carcinoma0 to 3 monthsThis type may have no waiting period if cancer has not spread
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Life insurance for terminal cancer patients will likely only exist in a policy that was owned by the patient before they were diagnosed.

Insurance companies may use the National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Database that includes data about cancer treatments and outcomes.

While they may consult this database for information regarding your expected life expectancy, they will also take a look at your specific case, such as when you underwent treatment, what kind of treatment it was, and how long you’ve been in remission.

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Will life insurance pay for cancer treatment?

If you already have a life insurance policy when you are diagnosed with cancer, you may be able to use your life insurance policy to help pay for medical treatments.

This will depend on the type of policy you have, how long you’ve had the policy, and if you added any riders or optional add-ons when you purchased the policy.

If you have a cash value policy, you should be able to borrow against the cash value of your life insurance.

This essentially means that you are taking out a loan against your policy, so if you don’t pay it back, you may lose some of your death benefits, but it is helpful in times of financial need.

If you have a living benefits rider or accelerated death benefit rider, you may be able to access your death benefit when you are diagnosed with a chronic or terminal illness.

How can I get quotes for life insurance for cancer patients?

Getting life insurance quotes for cancer patients is much the same as getting life insurance quotes for anyone else. However, it may be helpful to speak with an insurance agent that can advise you on your best options.

It is important to get quotes from multiple insurance companies so that you know you are getting the best rates. If you need help comparing life insurance quotes, enter your ZIP code into our free quote comparison tool below.

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