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Life insurance with cancer

It’s mind blowing to think that as many as 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. If you’ve already been diagnosed in the past or you’re worried about cancer because of a family history, then it’s understandable to want to know how cancer life insurance works.

Getting life insurance with cancer or after a cancer diagnosis can seem impossible or unaffordable for many of us. Most of us have either been directly or indirectly impacted by cancer, which can lead to questions about how your family would manage in the event of death.

Cancer life insurance premiums are lower than many people think and our team of experts can help to get the cheapest cover possible.

In this section we’ll look at the top questions that people ask about cancer life insurance and explain how it might work for you. Most people thinking about taking out life cover either before, during or after a cancer diagnosis will be understandably curious about how it works.

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Most of the people that we speak to who’ve had cancer are often concerned about life insurance but don’t know what to do about it.

Here are some of the main areas where we can help with life insurance for cancer patients:

  • Recent diagnosis and what options are available
  • Previous diagnosis (over 2 years) and paying a fair price for life cover
  • Family history of cancer
  • Cancerous cells and non-cancerous cells
  • Cover to help against the risk of cancer
  • Critical illness cover for cancer

Does life insurance cover cancer?

YES – life insurance will cover cancer so your family and loved ones will be protected if you get diagnosed with cancer in the future.

Unsurprisingly, cancer is one of the most common reasons for claims on life insurance. Cancer will be covered as part of your existing policy if you already have this in place. If you’re unsure about your existing policy, then you can contact your insurer or we’re happy to help if you don’t know where to go.

You must make sure that you disclose any pre-existing medical conditions when you apply for life insurance. If you fail to tell your insurer about something that you’ve had in the past, such as cancer then your claim could be declined. So be honest and it won’t be a problem.

Does critical illness cover cancer?

Cancer is the single biggest reason for claims on critical illness cover in the UK.

You should be covered for the majority of cancers with most critical illness cover policies depending on your insurance terms. You should check the terms and conditions of your cover if you aren’t sure about what is protected.

Critical illness cover is also a useful policy to have in place, even if you have had cancer before. In this case, insurers may exclude you from claiming due to cancer related reasons.

Critical illness cover will provide you with a tax-free cash lump sum if you are diagnosed with a serious medical condition during your policy term. Each provider will cover varying numbers of conditions, but common reasons for claims include:

The funds received from a critical illness claim can be used to cover expenses such as:

  • Paying mortgage or rent payments
  • Cost of living for a period of time
  • Adjustments to the home
  • Treatment to help your condition


Which cancers are covered by critical illness cover?

Most critical illness cover policies will protect you against cancer. Pay out amounts can vary though depending on the type and severity of cancer that you have. Some policies may only provide a partial payment for specific low grade cancers for example.

Cancers that are commonly covered by critical illness policies include:

  • Bowel cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Benign brain tumour

For many people, it should be possible to get life insurance after a cancer diagnosis over a period of time. If you’ve applied for life cover insurance past, then you might have experience of how it works.

Some of the main things that will come up will be:

  • When were you diagnosed with cancer?
  • What type of treatment did you have?
  • When did you last receive Chemotherapy or Radiotherapy?
  • What was the Grade and Stage of cancer?

Can I get life insurance with a family history of cancer?

YES – On its own, a family history of cancer shouldn’t be a reason for an insurer to refuse to provide life insurance. They will however consider this information when assessing your application.

It is common for insurers to ask about family medical history during life insurance applications. If a close family member of yours has had cancer, the insurer may want to know:

  • Their relationship to you e.g. parent, sibling etc.
  • The type of cancer
  • How old they were when diagnosed
  • Did they recover?

Can you get life insurance if you have cancer?

The best advice we can offer here is you should speak to an expert to get the best options available to you. There are often options for someone with a history of cancer that may not be available through some insurance companies.

Guaranteed life insurance for cancer patients

If you’ve recently been diagnosed or have only just completed treatment (e.g. Chemotherapy or Radiotherapy) then you’ll be slightly limited in terms of options for standard life coverage.

With this type of policy, you can even take out life insurance when you have cancer.

A guaranteed life cover policy will give you and your family an element of protection until 1 or 2 years has passed and more products are available.

These policies will range in cost from around £10 upwards depending on the level of cover and your age.

Life insurance after cancer

If you’ve previously been diagnosed with cancer and been through treatment 1 or 2 years ago, then you should now be able to get life cover. Most standard life insurance providers will accept applications with a history of cancer after this period.

Can you get life insurance if you have terminal cancer?

Unfortunately, any terminal diagnosis of any medical condition means that you will no longer be able to get life cover.

What about Terminal Illness Benefit with cancer?

If you have a life insurance policy already and you’ve been given a terminal diagnosis then you could claim on your ‘Terminal Illness Benefit’. You should speak to your current insurer to let them know and they can advise you how to claim.

Obviously, any terminal diagnosis is distressing, and terminal illness benefit should at least enable the policyholder to sort their finances.

Does life insurance payout if you die of cancer?

Standard life insurance will always payout if you die of cancer. The only exclusion that applies to life cover is suicide in the first 12 or 24 months depending on your insurer.

There are two points to consider here though:

  • Non-disclosure: if you intentionally withheld information on your application that has a material impact on your cover, then your claim could be adjusted or even refused
  • Guaranteed life cover: some bespoke life insurance policies might exclude anything pre-existing if you take out a guaranteed acceptance plan

The technical meaning of the term ‘remission’ is a reduction or complete disappearance of the symptoms of cancer. There are two types of cancer remission which are:

  • Partial remission: this is where some symptoms of cancer have gone but not all yet. Your tumour may still be there which means that you still have cancer, however, the tumour could be smaller
  • Complete remission: meaning that tests, examinations, and scans are showing that cancer may have gone. Even though signs and symptoms have gone in this case, cancer could still be in the body

Can a cancer survivor get life insurance?

YES – you will be able to get life insurance after cancer. Once you have been in complete remission or cancer-free for at least 2 years (1 year for some cancers) then you should be able to look for cover.

Do I need to tell life insurance about cancer?

This depends on if you are applying for a new policy. If you are applying for a new life insurance policy then yes, you would need to disclose that you have/have had cancer.

If you already have life insurance and are then diagnosed with cancer, you don’t need to inform your insurer about this. You aren’t required to update your insurer about your health unless it changes during the application process.

Types of cancer

There are many different types of cancer and here’s a list from Cancer Research UK


  • Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL)
  • Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)
  • Adrenal gland tumours
  • Anal cancer



  • Cancer of unknown primary (CUP)
  • Cancer spread to bone
  • Cancer spread to brain
  • Cancer spead to liver
  • Cancer spread to lung
  • Carcinoid
  • Cervical cancer
  • Children’s cancers
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL)
  • Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML)
  • Colorectal cancer


  • Ear cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Eye cancer


  • Follicular dendritic cell sarcoma


  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Gastric cancer
  • Gastro-oesophageal junction cancers
  • Germ cell tumours
  • Gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD)


  • Hairy cell leukaemia
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Hodgkin lymphoma



  • Large bowel and rectal neuroendocrine tumours
  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Leukaemia
  • Linitis plastica of the stomach
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Lung neuroendocrine tumours (NETs)
  • Lymphoma


  • Malignant schwannoma
  • Mediastinal germ cell tumours
  • Melanoma skin cancer
  • Men’s cancer
  • Merkel cell skin cancer
  • Mesothelioma
  • Molar pregancy
  • Mouth and oropharyngeal cancer
  • Myeloma


  • Nasal and paranasal sinus cancer
  • Nasopharyngeal cancer
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Neuroendocrine tumours
  • Neuroendocrine tumours of the pancreas
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in children



  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Penile cancer
  • Persistent trophoblastic disease and choriocarcinoma
  • Phaeochromocytoma
  • Prostate cancer
  • Pseudomyoxoma peritonei


  • Rare cancers
  • Rectal cancer
  • Retinoblastoma


  • Salivary gland cancer
  • Secondary cancer
  • Signet cell cancer
  • Skin cancer
  • Small bowel cancer
  • Small bowel neuroendocrine tumours (NETs)
  • Soft tissue sarcoma
  • Stomach cancer
  • Stomach neuroendocrine tumours (NETs)



  • Unknown primary cancer
  • Uterine cancer


  • Vaginal cancer
  • Vulval cancer


  • Wilms’ tumour
  • Womb cancer
  • Women’s cancers (gynaecological cancer)

*Source: Cancer Research UK

Some medical conditions and lifestyle factors are known to increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Examples of this are:

  • Hepatitis B – increases risk of liver cancer
  • HPV – increases risk of cervical cancer
  • Smoking – increases risk of lung cancer
  • Alcohol – increases risk of liver cancer
  • Overweight – increases risk of various cancers

Cancer is the most commonly occurring illness in the world, affecting millions of people every year. There are many celebrities who have been diagnosed with and survived cancer including:

There are several amazing charities currently working to support cancer patients and their families in the UK. These organisations work hard to raise money to support UK families and fund research to help beat cancer for good.

Here are just a few of the UK’s cancer charities:

Leading cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support has reported that:

  • There are currently an estimated 3 million people in the UK with cancer
  • The number of people living with cancer is expected to rise to 5.3 million by 2040
  • On average 460 people die from cancer every day in the UK
  • In the UK, someone gets diagnosed with cancer every 90 seconds
What is the most common form of cancer?The NHS website states that the 4 most common types of cancer in the UK are:

Breast cancer
Lung cancer
Prostate cancer
Bowel cancer
How does cancer start?Cancer happens when abnormal cells develop and start to multiply within the body. This can happen rapidly or very slowly depending on the type of cancer. The cells can be all in one place or have spread to multiple locations (metastatic cancer).
What is the biggest cause of cancer?Macmillan Cancer Support states that smoking is the biggest cause of cancer in the UK.
Smoking is the cause of 15% of UK cancer diagnoses.
72% of lung cancer diagnoses are caused by smoking.

Learn more – Macmillan Cancer Support – Causes and risk factors

We’re extremely proud to support Teenage Cancer Trust and be part of the incredible work that they do to help young people with cancer. This incredible charity has been helping to support children between the age of 13 and 24 for over 28 years who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Fundraising target: £15,000

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, then you know how difficult this can be and especially for children and young adults. The amazing work that Teenage Cancer Trust does helps youngsters to manage this stress throughout diagnosis, treatment, and beyond.

Our work with Teenage Cancer Trust helps to support the charity financially, educate members, and provide support. We worked tirelessly throughout 2021 to offer our support to Teenage Cancer Trust.

Learn more – Teenage Cancer Trust – About Us

Other insurance products

Useful resources

iam|INSURED – Facts and Figures about Cervical Cancer

Macmillan Cancer Support – Get Help

NHS – Cancer

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