Being diagnosed with breast cancer is a difficult and life-altering experience. One of the many concerns that may arise during this time is the fear of being denied life insurance coverage. It can be overwhelming to think about the financial implications of such a diagnosis, and the added stress of applying for life insurance can feel overwhelming. However, it is important to know that life insurance is still an option for those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
In this article, we will explore the process of applying for life insurance after a breast cancer diagnosis, and provide tips and resources to help make the process as smooth as possible. We understand that this may be a difficult time, and we want to provide support and guidance to those who are considering life insurance options.
Understanding the impact of breast cancer on life insurance
Insurance companies consider a variety of factors when determining the rates for life insurance policies, and a breast cancer diagnosis is considered a significant risk factor. Individuals who have been diagnosed with breast cancer may be classified as high-risk and may be subject to higher rates or exclusions from coverage.
It’s important to note that the extent of the impact of a breast cancer diagnosis on life insurance will vary depending on the stage and type of breast cancer, as well as the individual’s overall health.
For example, if the cancer was caught early and treated successfully, the impact on the life insurance application process may be less severe than if the cancer was advanced or recurrent.
So, while we’re on this topic, let’s quickly define what we’re talking about when it comes to the different “types” of breast cancer diagnosis.
Breast cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the cells of the breast. It can occur in both men and women but is most commonly found in women. The cancer starts in the breast tissue and can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated.
Breast cancer can take many forms, and can be classified into different types based on the appearance of the cells under a microscope, the way the cancer cells behave, and the location and size of the cancer.
Types of breast cancer:
There are several different types of breast cancer, including:
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): This is a non-invasive cancer that starts in the milk ducts of the breast and does not spread to surrounding tissue.
- Invasive ductal carcinoma: This is the most common type of breast cancer, and it starts in the milk ducts and spreads to surrounding tissue.
- Invasive lobular carcinoma: This type of breast cancer starts in the lobules of the breast and spreads to surrounding tissue.
- Inflammatory breast cancer: This is a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer that causes the breast to become red, swollen, and warm.
- Metastatic breast cancer: This is breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, lungs, or bones.
Symptoms of breast cancer:
Symptoms of breast cancer can include a lump or thickening in the breast or underarm area, changes in the size or shape of the breast, dimpling of the skin, redness or scaliness of the breast skin, and fluid discharge from the nipple. Some people with breast cancer may not have any symptoms at all. It is important to consult a doctor if you have any concerns about breast cancer.
Stages of breast cancer:
Breast cancer is typically divided into four stages, with stage 0 being the earliest and stage IV being the most advanced.
Stage 0: Cancer cells are present in the lining of the breast ducts, but have not spread to surrounding tissue.
Stage I: Cancer is present in the breast, but is 2 centimeters or smaller in size and has not spread to the lymph nodes.
Stage II: Cancer is larger than 2 centimeters, but has not spread to the lymph nodes.
Stage III: Cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and may be larger than 5 centimeters in size.
Stage IV: Cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones, liver, or lungs.
Breast cancer treatment options vary depending on the stage of the cancer, the individual’s overall health, and personal preferences. Some common treatment options include:
- Surgery: Surgery is the most common treatment for breast cancer. Surgery options include lumpectomy, which removes the cancerous tumor and a small amount of surrounding tissue, or mastectomy, which removes the entire breast.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. It is usually given after surgery and can help reduce the risk of the cancer returning.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be given before or after surgery and can be used to shrink the tumor before surgery or to reduce the risk of the cancer returning.
- Hormonal therapy: Hormonal therapy is used to block the effects of hormones on cancer cells. It is typically used for cancers that are hormone-receptor-positive.
- Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy uses drugs that target specific molecules on cancer cells. It is typically used for cancers that have certain genetic changes.
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is a newer type of treatment that helps the immune system fight cancer cells.
- Palliative care: Palliative care focuses on relieving symptoms and improving quality of life for people with advanced cancer.
The treatment plan will be tailored to the individual and may include a combination of these options.
When applying for life insurance after being diagnosed with breast cancer, there are a few possible outcomes that an applicant may experience. One outcome is that the applicant may be offered a higher premium rate than someone who has not been diagnosed with breast cancer. This is because a breast cancer diagnosis is considered a pre-existing medical condition and can be seen as a higher risk for the insurance company.
Another outcome is that the applicant may be denied coverage altogether. This can happen if the breast cancer is considered advanced or in a later stage, or if the applicant has undergone certain types of treatment, such as a bilateral mastectomy.
That said, it’s important to note that every insurance company and policy is different, and some may be more lenient or accommodating with their underwriting guidelines for breast cancer. It’s also important to shop around and compare rates from different insurance companies to find the best option.
Finding the right insurance company and policy
When searching for life insurance after being diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s important to shop around and compare policies from different insurance companies. Some companies may be more willing to work with individuals who have a history of breast cancer, while others may have stricter underwriting guidelines.
You’ll also want to be prepared to provide detailed information about your breast cancer diagnosis, including the type, stage, and treatment history. Insurance companies will want to know all of this in addition to any information about any other health conditions you may also have.
It is also a good idea to try and get quotes from multiple life insurance companies since each company will have a different underwriting process and some will be more lenient than others.
The application process
The application process for life insurance after being diagnosed with breast cancer may be more challenging than the process for individuals without a pre-existing condition. Insurance companies will likely require detailed information about the individual’s breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, and current health status. This may include medical records, doctor’s reports, and biopsy results.
During the application process, the insurance company will also likely assess the individual’s risk factors and overall health to determine the rate for their policy. Individuals with breast cancer may be considered a higher risk and may face higher rates or exclusions on their policy.
Specific questions you’ll likely be asked may include:
- When were you first diagnosed with Breast Cancer?
- What led to your diagnosis?
- A routine mammogram, or did you notice any symptoms?
- What Stage of Breast Cancer were you diagnosed with?
- Are you currently treating your Breast Cancer now? If not, when was the last date of treatment?
- What treatment options did you receive? A lumpectomy, mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, etc…
- Was your Breast Cancer contained within your breast tissue, or did it travel to other parts of your body?
- How large was your breast tumor?
- Have you been diagnosed with any other pre-existing medical conditions?
- Are you currently working now?
- In the past 12 months, have you applied for or received any form of disability benefits?
What if I can’t qualify for a traditional life insurance policy?
If you are unable to qualify for a traditional life insurance policy after being diagnosed with breast cancer, there are still options available to you. One option is to look into guaranteed issue life insurance policy.
These policies do not require a medical exam or ask health-related questions, but they typically have a lower coverage amount and a higher premium. And will contain a graded death benefit, limiting when the policy will begin covering natural causes of death.
Another option is to look into accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance, which provides a death benefit in the event of an accidental death. It is important to note that AD&D policies do not cover death from natural causes or illnesses.
We here at IBUSA offer both of these types of products however, we typically only recommend them after we have exhausted all traditional life insurance options.
We here at IBUSA understand that being diagnosed with breast cancer can be a difficult and stressful experience, and applying for life insurance may seem like an added burden. However, it is important to remember that there are options available and that you are not alone in this process. We’re here and ready to help.