In this day and age, it’s truly a blessing to not know someone who has been touched by cancer in some way. In 2012 alone, an estimated 848,170 men and 790,740 women were diagnosed with cancer.
As an experienced life insurance agent, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer that I see when helping my clients.
Quick Article Guide
1. What Do Life Insurance Companies Take Into Consideration When Approving An Applicant With Skin Cancer? 2. How Does Basal Cell, Squamous Cell, or Melanoma affect my Life Insurance Approval?
3. A few things that you should know when shopping for life insurance if you had skin cancer…
Even though cancer tends to raise red flags for life insurance carriers, in most cases, patients with skin cancer can qualify for “standard” or better life insurance rates. In fact, many of the applicants we work with receive “preferred” or “preferred best” rates depending on the severity of the skin cancer and how it was treated.
If you find yourself in this situation, know that we can help you because we represent dozens of companies and our agents will be able to match you up with the life insurance company that has the most affordable rates for your situation.
What Do Life Insurance Companies Take Into Consideration When Approving An Applicant With Skin Cancer?
Once your agent has determined the company that is the best fit for you, we will complete an electronic application on your behalf and submit it to the insurance company. Life insurance companies generally have the same application and approval process. During this process, the life insurance company’s underwriters will look at your health history, financial information, lifestyle, height, and weight.
If you have or have had skin cancer, the insurance company you apply with will pull your medical records to determine your diagnosis and the success of your treatment.
Every life insurance company views skin cancer slightly differently. By answering a few questions upfront about your diagnosis and treatment, we’ll be sure to find the company that is the best fit for you.
To find the best match for our client’s your agent will probably need to ask you the following questions:
1. When were you diagnosed with skin cancer?
2. What type of skin cancer were you diagnosed with? (Options include basal cell, melanoma, or squamous cell).
3. How many occurrences have you had?
4. What type of treatment did you receive and when was the treatment completed?
5. Did the cancer spread or metastasize?
6. Was the skin cancer that was removed within clean margins?
7. Have you had any recurrences of any skin cancer spots that were previously removed?
8. Do you have annual follow ups with your doctor or dermatologist?
The price of your life insurance premium will rely heavily on which type of skin cancer you were diagnosed with as well as the frequency of any re-occurrences. Most clients who have no other health issues and have had less than three occurrences of skin cancer in their lifetime may be able to qualify for preferred or preferred best rates with some of the top-rated life insurance companies.
If you had more than three occurrences or have been diagnosed with melanoma, you may be eligible for life insurance at a “standard” or “standard plus” rate class. If you are a millennial and are diagnosed with skin cancer, please read more about millennials and life insurance here.
Each form of skin cancer will affect your life insurance approval differently. Below are brief descriptions of three types of skin cancer as well as rate class qualifications if no other serious health issues are present.
Basal Cell Carcinoma – This type of skin cancer usually grows very slowly and can be removed easily. Basal cell carcinoma is usually very treatable and very rarely does it spread to other tissues in the body. Basal cell is the most common form of skin cancer; it affects about three million people in the United States per year.
When applying for life insurance, in most cases, you can qualify for preferred or better rates once the spot has been surgically removed. In the case that you have had multiple incidences of basal cell carcinoma, you may be approved at a standard plus or standard rate class.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma – About 90% of skin cancer patients are diagnosed with either basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. Squamous cell usually affects about 700,000 Americans each year and according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, it’s twice as likely to occur in men as women. This type of skin cancer tends to affect people in their 70’s and rarely occurs in people under the age of 50. Squamous cell is considered to be more dangerous than basal cell, but it is usually not life threatening.
If you have been diagnosed with squamous cell, you can usually qualify for a life insurance policy at preferred to standard rates after the cancer has been surgically removed.
Malignant Melanoma – This is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and it is also the most invasive. About 4% of patients that are diagnosed with skin cancer are diagnosed with melanoma and this type accounts for the majority of deaths caused by skin cancer. Melanoma begins in skin cells known as “melanocytes.” These cells make melanin which gives your skin its color. If you are overly exposed to ultraviolet light, either from the sun or a tanning bed, melanocytes can start to grow abnormally and become cancerous.
If you have been diagnosed with malignant melanoma, your agent will likely want to know if the cancer was “in situ” or at what stage the melanoma was in when it was diagnosed. If the melanoma was “in situ,” this means that the cancer was localized and has not spread past the upper layers of skin.
If this is the case and your tumor was surgically removed, you will normally be eligible for life insurance at standard or standard plus rates after a 6 month waiting period. A waiting period is a period of time that the insurance companies will postpone or decline your application to ensure that your treatment was successful.
The biggest problem with malignant melanoma is that it can metastasize and spread quickly to the lymph nodes and major organs. If you were diagnosed with melanoma in the past and it was treated with chemotherapy or radiation, you will likely need to be cancer free for at least five to ten years in order to qualify for a life insurance policy.
• Your agent will want to know if you were diagnosed with basal cell, squamous cell, or melanoma, or if you have had more than one type of skin cancer. The insurance company or agent that you work with will also ask you the location and if the cancer spread to other parts of your body.
• The insurance carrier will want to know the complete medical history of your skin cancer. This includes any prescribed medications as well as your pathology and follow-up reports.
• The insurance company will also need to know how many instances of skin cancer you have had and if any of the instances have every recurred after removal.
• Life insurance companies will also look at your age when you were diagnosed, the size of the tumor, the stage of the cancer, how rapidly the cancer cells divided, if there were any recurrences after treatment, and the length of time since recovery. In order to save time and help the insurance company process your application quickly, we suggest that you have this information available. This will allow our agent to ensure you are matched up with the best company upfront.
As with everything, prevention is the best way to avoid running into any issues with skin cancer. Although purchasing a life insurance policy after having a run in with skin cancer is still possible, the best way to avoid any headaches in the process is to take the necessary steps to protect your skin. Experts recommend avoiding or reducing your exposure to ultraviolet rays. This means abstaining from the use of tanning beds and avoiding sunlight between the hours of 10am and 4pm.
If you are going to be exposed to the sun for any period of time, make sure to apply a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. A SPF of 30 or higher is typically recommended.
We also recommend minimizing your risk of getting skin cancer by periodically checking your skin for any moles and by getting your skin examined by your doctor or dermatologist every one to three years. For more helpful tips on preventing skin cancer, please visit the Skin Cancer Foundation’s website. If you have had other health problems, including being diagnosed with cancer, there are thirteen serious health problems that don’t rule out life insurance.
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