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Life insurance and cancer – what you need to know

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This content is for information purposes only and should not be taken as financial advice. Every effort has been made to ensure the information is correct and up-to-date at the time of writing. For personalised and regulated advice regarding your situation, please consult an independent financial adviser here at Castlegate in Grantham, Lincolnshire or other local offices.

According to Macmillan Cancer Support, someone is diagnosed with cancer every 90 seconds in the UK. Around half of us will get cancer at some stage, in some form.

Given these numbers, it is understandable that many people wish to know how life insurance and cancer interrelate. Does having cancer disqualify you from getting life insurance? Do you get extra benefits from a policy if you have cancer?

Below, our Grantham financial advisers explain how a life insurance policy is likely to bear upon a cancer diagnosis in 2024, offering ideas to help individuals prepare their financial plans.

01476 855 585

Life Insurance and Cancer – An Overview

To quickly recap, life insurance is a protection policy which typically pays out a cash lump sum when you die within its terms. You pay regular monthly premiums for the policy.

A life insurance policy can also pay out if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, such as cancer. Your insurer will require definitive proof of your diagnosis from medical providers to prove this. There must be no known cure, and your death must be forecast within the next 12 months.

As such, terminal cancer patients may be able to claim a life insurance payout during their lifetimes. The payout can be used to enjoy in your final days, to pay off debt (e.g. your mortgage) or to support your surviving loved ones.

Information for Current Cancer Patients

What if you do not yet have a life insurance policy and have recently been diagnosed with cancer? Can you still take out a policy?

Unfortunately, most people in this situation will find it difficult to take out a policy. A life insurance provider may be willing to consider you depending on certain factors, such as:

  • The type of cancer
  • Its stage
  • The current treatment you are receiving
  • Your wider health

Some individuals may have had cancer in the past but are “in the clear” now. In this situation, many providers are likely to require a minimum amount of time to pass (e.g. 2 years) before letting you take out a life insurance policy.

What if I have a Family History of Cancer?

If your relatives have had (or have) cancer, this can affect your eligibility for life insurance – and the quality of the deals you are offered.

Certain conditions, like bowel or breast cancer, are regarded as “inherited” conditions. As such, a family history of these types of cancer could drive up your costs. However, insurers may not see other non-inherited conditions (with a low probability) as such a high risk.

You cannot control your family history, but you do have a say over your lifestyle. Many people can lower their potential life insurance costs by living a healthier lifestyle, such as exercising regularly, giving up smoking and losing excess weight.

Check Your Existing Life Insurance Policy

Perhaps you have not been diagnosed with cancer but wonder how your current policy would protect you in the event. Consider taking a look at the fine print for peace of mind.

A financial adviser can assist you with this process, ensuring that your life insurance continues to meet your needs. For instance, do you still need “term” insurance, or do you now require life cover (i.e. “whole-of-life” cover)? Does your policy offer sufficient protection if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness?

Does your life insurance include critical illness cover? Has your medical history changed since you last took out the policy, and how might this affect a new potential policy?

Life Insurance and Common Forms of Cancer

According to Cancer Research UK, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer – accounting for 15% of all cases. Other common types include prostate cancer, bowel cancer and lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the most likely to lead to death in all UK countries. Breast cancer and prostate cancer follow afterwards. However, these conditions are not always terminal. Moreover, other types can also be terminal such as bladder, stomach and kidney cancer.

Due to the wide range of cancers, it is vital to check your policy (and any new potential policies) to see which conditions it covers. For instance, some providers do not cover cancers that are “historically classified” as conditions that may lead to cancer (“pre-malignant”).

Certain providers may not cover cancers which have not spread outside the tissue in which they began (“non-invasive”).

Cancer, Life Insurance and Your Financial Plan

Does life insurance cover cancer? By now, you can see that the relationship between cancer and life insurance is complicated. As such, careful financial planning is required to ensure you have a robust financial “safety net” in the event of a cancer diagnosis.

A financial adviser can assist with this endeavour by assessing life insurance policies. They can guide you through buying life insurance, dealing with different life insurance companies and helping with your life insurance application, maximising your chances of getting a good deal.

An adviser can also help you integrate your life insurance with your wider protection plan, such as critical illness insurance, private medical insurance and income protection insurance.

The earlier you plan ahead, the more likely your protection plan will be ready for a potential cancer diagnosis. Yet, options for optimising your financial plan may still exist for existing cancer patients. Do not leave the door closed, but reach out for professional guidance to gain the insights and clarity you need.


If you are interested in discussing your own financial plan or investment strategy with us, please get in touch to arrange a no-commitment financial consultation at our expense:

01476 855 585