How to Get Term Life Insurance With Colon Cancer

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Tim is a licensed life insurance agent with 23 years of experience helping people protect their families and businesses with term life insurance. He writes and creates stuff for QuickQuote and other insurance and financial websites. You can find him on Twitter.

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UPDATED: Sep 20, 2020

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Colon cancer begins in the colon or the six-foot intestinal tract that connects the small intestine to the rectum.  Colon cancer occurs when cells in the lining of the colon become abnormal, grow out of control and become cancerous. Nearly all colon tumors begin as non-cancerous polyps that eventually develop into cancer.

Risk Factors

While anyone can develop colorectal cancer, it is most common among people over the age of fifty or in people who are at increased risk due to any of these conditions:

  • Cancer elsewhere in the body
  • Colorectal polyps
  • High-fat, low-fiber diet
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • Obesity
  • Personal history of breast cancer
  • Tobacco use

Colon Cancer Statistics

As of 2011, the following numbers show the significance of colon cancer:

  • Colorectal cancer affects nearly 150,000 people annually.
  • It is third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among American men and women.
  • The death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping in both men and women for more than 20 years due to early detection from screening
  • There are more than 1 million survivors of colorectal cancer in the United States.

Treatments and Prevention

With proper screening, colon cancer can be detected before symptoms develop which is when it is most likely to be cured. People with an average risk of colon cancer can consider screening beginning at age fifty. Those with an increased risk due to a family history of colon cancer should consider screening sooner.

Colon cancer treatment varies by the individual circumstances. Treatment depends on tumor size and location, stage and grade of the disease and other factors. Treatment options typically include the following, with most people receiving a combination of treatments:

  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Surgery

What Life Insurance Companies Look For

Life insurance companies want to see that people with a history of colon cancer have (1) received full treatment, and (2) have completed regular follow-up visits per doctor’s orders. Lifelong follow-up is very important, as recurrences can occur as many as 30 years after the initial diagnosis.

The life insurance company you apply with will be looking specifically at:

  • Your age at diagnosis
  • The amount of time since diagnosis
  • The stage and grade of cancer
  • The tumor size
  • Any lymphatic node involvement
  • Whether there was any recurrence of cancer following recovery
  • Length of time since treatment and recovery
  • The treatment success and adherence to treatment recommendations
  • Follow up visits as recommended by doctor
  • Whether you are a tobacco/drug/alcohol user
  • Any other major health problems

How to Prepare for Your Term Life Insurance Application

There are important measures you can take to prepare yourself before applying for term life insurance. Doing so will help your chances of getting approved for the best rating class possible. Use the following tips to put yourself in the best position to win:

  • Have all doctors’ name/address/phone available.
  • Make sure your doctor(s) has copies of all records regarding the cancer treatment, pathology reports, and follow-up reports.
  • Have a list of all medications and their dosages available.
  • Do not skip any follow-up visits with your doctor. 

What our Experience Has Shown

We’ve helped thousands of people apply for term life insurance, and many of those people had colon cancer. Here are a few things we’ve learned:

  • Life insurance companies usually postpone applicants who have not followed doctor’s orders regarding follow-up visits or those that have outstanding follow-up visits.
  • Generally speaking, life insurance companies do not make policy offers while the applicant is currently in treatment.
  • You may be declined if you apply too soon after finishing treatment, typically within the first year.
  • Approval is more likely the longer it has been since treatment, with no recurrence.
  • Rating classes better than Standard are rare. Most applicants with a history of breast cancer receive a Sub-standard rating class or a policy with an extra premium of some degree.
  • The best chances for approval with a good rating class and no extra premium are:
  • Over age 40 at diagnosis
  • Early stage, small tumors
  • The life insurance company will usually decline applicants if the cancer metastasized.
  • It’s important to understand life insurance terminology.

Real Examples from Real Customers

Good Outcome

Don applied for term life insurance when he was 56 years old.

  • Diagnosed at age 50
  • Stage 0 colon cancer
  • Treatment involved surgery, radiation and chemotherapy
  • Positive results from follow-up appointments with doctor
  • No other medical conditions
  • Outcome:  Approved at a Standard rating class
  • Premium:   $509 annually

Not So Good Outcome

Sara applied for term life insurance when she was 45 years old.

  • Diagnosed at age 42
  • Stage 2 colon cancer
  • Treatment involved surgery, radiation and chemotherapy
  • Positive results from follow up appointments with doctor
  • No other medical conditions
  • Outcome:  Postponed for ten years from treatment ending (age 50)

Poor Outcome

Jerry applied for term life insurance when she was 38 years old.

  • Diagnosed at age 34
  • Stage 2 breast cancer
  • Treatment involved surgery, radiation and chemotherapy
  • Has not seen her doctor in over two years
  • No other medical conditions
  • Tobacco User
  • Outcome:  Declined

You can see Don had the best outcome, due to low-stage cancer that was caught early and treated. Being over age forty and having regular follow up appointments with her doctor also helped. Sara’s cancer was more extensive, and although she had no other medical conditions and good follow up, her application was postponed until more time has passed since treatment. Finally, Jerry was the youngest of the group when he was diagnosed. However, his lack of routine follow-up and tobacco use resulted in his application being declined. 

What This All Means for You

The good news about applying for term life insurance when you have a history of colon cancer is — yes, you can qualify for coverage! Your outcome and resulting premium cost will depend greatly on some factors, including your age, stage of cancer, treatment, follow-up, medical history and more.

While you can control the outcome to some extent through good follow up and lifestyle habits, other uncontrollable factors will come into play when the life insurance company reviews your application.

Remember, you could be asked to wait and apply later (postponed), or your policy may cost more due to an extra premium being applied (flat extra for a specific number of years, usually 1-10). But these are temporary measures and eventually, you will get the coverage you seek and a more affordable premium cost!

As always, please discuss your situation with your life insurance agent or broker, and provide as much information as you can. They will help direct you to the best life insurance company based on your individual circumstances. And if you are not pleased with the offer you receive, you can always apply with another company.

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