Colon cancer is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S. In 2015, around 1,332,085 Americans were living with colon cancer.
At the same time, four out of ten Americans didn’t have life insurance. Even more people said they had life insurance but didn’t have the coverage needed to care for their family when their policy paid out.
Unfortunately, life insurance becomes complicated after you receive a devastating diagnosis like cancer. There’s no law protecting you from being denied by an insurance company. Many life insurance companies aren’t so fond of insuring cancer survivors – not to mention current cancer patients.
Nevertheless, it is very possible to obtain affordable life insurance even if you are the age of 50 and have been previously diagnosed with colon cancer.
If you are battling colon cancer or if you are a cancer survivor, it’s essential to seek the help of an independent life insurance agent that has access to dozens of insurance companies. Here at over50lifeinsure.com we know all too well that one insurance company may deny you coverage while another may offer you affordable rates.
We can’t stress enough that every insurance company will look at your medical history differently. The key is having a knowledgeable independent agent that can help you obtain the best life insurance coverage coverage for you with an insurance company that looks at your medical history most favorably.
Of course, it’s far better to buy life insurance when you’re young and healthy. However, it’s still possible to purchase life insurance if you have been diagnosed with cancer in the past, especially when you have a type of cancer with a high survival rate.
Colon cancer is one of those cancers.
The colon cancer survival rate is 64.5%. Improved screening and detection methods as well as better treatments mean there are 1 million survivors in the United States.
Are you or one of your family members currently battling colon cancer? You’re not necessarily shut out of the life insurance market. There may be options available now, and there may be other options available over time.
9 Facts About Life Insurance With a Colon Cancer Diagnosis
There’s a lot of misinformation about buying life insurance after a cancer diagnosis. While application terms and policies vary by insurance company, there are some common threads that you can use to navigate the insurance terrain during or after an illness.
Here’s what you need to know about how your colon cancer diagnosis impacts your access to life insurance:
1. There’s No Law Mandating Insurance Coverage
Life insurance companies aren’t required to insure you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve received a diagnosis, started treatment, or you’re in remission. The only time an insurance company is required to provide a policy is when federal or state law mandates coverage.
For example, the Affordable Care Act prevents health insurance companies from discriminating against sick people.
Unless your state passes a law requiring an insurance company to give you a policy, it is within the life insurance company’s rights to deny you.
2. You Generally Can’t Buy Coverage During Treatment
Most cancer patients receive denial letters if they are starting or in the middle of treatment.
Unless you have a very treatable form of cancer or you’re in Stage 0 – expect to be denied without a remission diagnosis. Even then, many companies will not approve you for traditional life insurance coverage until at least six months following the last date of treatment.
3. You May Only Receive Guaranteed Issue Policies
Life insurance companies have a long-standing policy of denying policies to sick people, particularly those who are currently battling cancer.
However, because the rate of cancer survival has steadily climbed over the past few decades, some insurance policies now offer high-risk products to people with colon cancer and other types of non-aggressive cancer.
First of all you can not be declined for coverage due to medical history for a guaranteed issue life insurance policy.
You only need to do one thing to qualify for a guaranteed issue life insurance policy: pay your premiums.
For some, a guaranteed policy is better than nothing. However, these policies come with two caveats:
- High premiums
- Low death benefit
In other words, you’ll pay more money and receive a smaller benefit if you pass away. The death benefit that is available is usually limited to between $1,000 and $25,000.
What is more, if the policyholder dies within the first two years, the death benefit is not paid. Instead, you’ll receive a refund of the premiums paid thus far.
Ultimately, these premiums help those who may not have any cash savings pay for final expenses. However, they won’t provide a death benefit significant enough to cover massive debt like hospital bills or mortgages.
4. Traditional Life Insurance Is Easier to Get After Treatment
The situation improves once you’ve made it out the other side. Once you’re in remission, you’ll still find it challenging to get a good policy. However, more policy options become available.
Term life insurance provides coverage for a specified term. You’ll pay premiums typically for either 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. Usually, your monthly payment is guaranteed to stay the same for the length of the term.
If you were to pass away during that time, then the benefit is paid out. When the policy expires at the end of the term, you would then need to apply for new coverage.
If you know you will need life insurance for a more extended period than a term policy will cover you, then you may want to opt for permanent life insurance.
Cancer patients and survivors who are seeking traditional life insurance often find they are likely to be insured via their employer’s term life insurance if they are still working. While this is a good option for some, it’s important to be wary.
Your coverage typically ends when your employment contract does. Quitting or losing your job could leave you out in the cold without realizing it.
Also, every year the company can change the benefits that it offers. It’s possible the company could eliminate or reduce the life insurance benefits that it offers it’s employees.
5. You May Have to Wait to Obtain Coverage Even After Treatment Is Complete
Every insurance company has unique underwriting guidelines. Additionally, the waiting period varies according to the type of cancer.
For example, prostate cancer survivors may qualify for a policy a year after they enter remission. Meanwhile, leukemia patients may have to wait ten years after a remission diagnosis before they are eligible for approval.
If you have colon cancer or you’re in remission, your chances of receiving a policy are higher than they once were.
Patients diagnosed with Stage 1 or Stage 2 colon cancer see a waiting period of an average of one to three years before approval. The maximum period often features a six-year wait after remission.
Waiting periods after Stage 3 or Stage 4 are often highly dependent on your case and your age at diagnosis. However, insurance companies almost always decline Stage 4 colorectal cancer cases regardless of whether you’re in remission or not.
6. Colon Cancer Survivors May Pay a Flat Extra Fee
Some insurance companies add a “flat extra fee” to whole life or term policies granted to cancer survivors. The charge is usually $5-$10 per $1,000 in coverage over a set term
For example, if you own a plan worth $500,000, and you have a flat fee of $5, then you’d pay $2,500 in extra fees until the term ends.
Once the flat fee term ends, you’ll pay the standard rate for the rest of the length of your policy.
7. Be Prepared To Wait While the Insurance Company Obtains Your Medical Records
Applying for a life insurance policy as a healthy person can already be an invasive experience. Cancer survivors should prepare to undergo an even more extensive underwriting process. This might take 4-6 weeks. The biggest hold up is usually the amount of time it takes the insurance company to actually obtain your medical records.
To help speed up the underwriting process, it is helpful to tell your agent where the insurance company can get all your pertinent medical records to help speed up the process.
Also, If you would like to do even more to speed up the process you can always ask your doctor to please process the insurance companies request as soon as possible. This can absolutely make a difference in speeding up the underwriting process if the insurance company needs to obtain your medical records.
Insurance companies want to know every last detail about your cancer experience. Everything from your age at diagnosis to the stage of diagnosis to treatment types matter. Underwriters will also want to consider how well you responded to treatment.
When applying for traditional life insurance coverage, know that the insurance company will more than likely want to obtain all your medical records.
8. You Can’t Skip Doctor Appointments
Missing or skipping appointments during or after your treatment may earn you black marks on your application. Underwriters work aggressively with cancer cases. If you’ve been in remission for less than six years, and you skip check-ups, then you may be denied.
If you’re not getting regular checkups, this is very concerning to an underwriter. Ultimately, they want to know that you are proactive with your health care.
9. Rejection from One Company Doesn’t Mean You’ll Never Get Insurance
Underwriting guidelines for cancer patients and survivors vary dramatically between insurance carriers. Being rejected by one carrier doesn’t mean every carrier will say “no.”
Every insurance company has different underwriting guidelines. Some offer better rates for colon cancer survivors than others.
Talk to an independent insurance broker to talk about the ways you might still qualify for life insurance.
It’s Not Over
You beat cancer – and now you can defeat the challenges of navigating life insurance.
Colon cancer is now very treatable and sees high survival rates. Even if you fought a hard battle, you have options for protecting your family.
So what policy should you choose? It depends on the type of cancer and your family’s finances. If you’re looking for life insurance for the first time or you received a rejection letter, get in touch today to learn more about your options.