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Life Insurance with Cancer

Life insurance is the best way to provide financial security for your family, and your policy can pay out £100,000’s or even £1,000,000’s if you die. Buying life insurance with cancer or after cancer will often be more complicated, but there are usually certain policies that will be available for you.

Your choice of life insurance policies will be more limited while undergoing cancer treatment and within the following two years. Policies like guaranteed life insurance can be useful during this time, and after several years you will have a wider range of options from some of the UK’s top life insurance companies.

Many people who have had cancer worry about whether policies like life insurance are still an option for them. Macmillan Cancer Support has even released a video recently which covers this topic in more detail, as they receive so many questions about this.

Life insurance when you have cancer | Macmillan Financial Guidance Service

Note: One thing to note is that in this video Macmillan mentions ‘exclusions’ for pre-existing conditions, which will not apply to standard life insurance policies. This will only apply to policies like guaranteed life insurance, as traditional life cover does not exclude claims for pre-existing conditions.

In our 2024 guide for life insurance with cancer, we’ll look at the main questions that people ask about cancer and life insurance and explain how it might work for you. There are some great options for life cover and useful alternatives that can help whether you have cancer, are a cancer survivor or have a family history of cancer.

A picture of a stopwatch

60-Second Summary – Life Insurance with Cancer 2024 Guide

Some life insurance companies will offer better prices than others for people who have had cancer or have a family history of cancer. The best approach is to compare life insurance quotes from multiple insurers to ensure you get a fair price.

  • Life insurance will become cheaper and simpler to apply for after you have been cancer-free for several years (e.g. 5 or 10 years). It will also become more affordable based on how long many years you have been in remission for and if there have been any lasting effects on your health from your cancer or treatment.
  • The price of life insurance after cancer will also be based on your age when you apply, and your general health and lifestyle. Other factors like your occupation can sometimes impact pricing too if your job role is considered ‘high risk’.
  • Many life insurance companies will provide extra support and advice following a cancer diagnosis, such as AIG’s discretionary fund and Zurich’s ‘Accelerate’ health support benefit.o
  • A history of cancer can make it harder to find the right life insurance policy, so it can be useful to get some advice from a cancer life insurance specialist to help you understand all the options that are available for you.

Standard life insurance won’t usually be available for anyone currently undergoing cancer treatment, but other types of policies can provide a level of protection for your family. The two main options are:

  • Guaranteed life insurance: These policies will provide a lower amount of cover than traditional policies (around £10,000 to £20,000 maximum), but won’t require any medical questions when you apply.
  • Personal accident insurance: These policies aren’t strictly life insurance, but will protect you against accidental injuries. Many policies will include accidental death benefit or give you the option to add this on.

Either of these policies will give you and your family an element of protection until one or two years have passed and more products are available. They’re usually very cost-effective too, with policies starting from around £10 depending on your age and the level of cover you need.

For most people, it should be possible to get life insurance in the years following a cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment. If you’ve previously been diagnosed with cancer and been through treatment two or more years ago, then you should now be able to get life cover.

Most standard life insurance companies will accept applications with a history of cancer after this period. The longer that you have been fully recovered (in remission) the cheaper and simpler it will be to get the cover that you need.

Can you get life insurance if you have terminal cancer?

Unfortunately, you would not be able to buy a new life insurance policy if you have been diagnosed with any form of terminal illness including cancer. This is why it is recommended to buy life insurance as early in life as you can, to ensure that you already have the right protection in place if you need it.

Does life insurance pay out for cancer diagnosis?

If you already have a life insurance policy, you may be able to claim some or all of your pay out early by using your terminal illness benefit. This can provide extra financial support for your family during an extremely hard time and can be used in any way that you would like.

Most life insurance companies offer terminal illness benefit free of charge, to give you more options for accessing financial support if you become terminally ill.

Note: Not all policies will include terminal illness benefit automatically, so you should check your policy documents if you are unsure if this is included within your cover.

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The types of life insurance and the prices that are available for you will vary depending on where you are in your journey with cancer.

Insurance companies will generally want you to have been recovered or ‘in remission’ for a set number of years before they will offer you standard cover. Most people should be able to buy life insurance if they have been diagnosed with cancer in the past, especially if this was several years ago.

Insurance companies will also ask about any family history of serious conditions like cancer when you apply for your cover. This is usually limited to close relatives such as parents or siblings, and the insurer asks about this so they can assess how likely it is that you will be diagnosed with cancer in the future.

On its own, a family history of cancer shouldn’t be enough of a reason for an insurer to refuse to provide life insurance, but it can affect the price of your cover.

Key factors for cancer life insurance:

  • When were you diagnosed with cancer?
  • What type of treatment did you receive? (chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery etc)
  • When did you last receive cancer treatment?
  • How long have you been recovered for (in remission)?
  • What was the grade and stage of your cancer?

Do I need to tell life insurance about cancer?

You should always disclose any history of cancer if you are asked during the life insurance application process. If you don’t, you risk your policy not being valid and the insurer could refuse to pay out when your loved ones need to claim.

You won’t need to tell your life insurance company if you are diagnosed with cancer after you already have a life insurance policy. However, several life insurance companies will offer extra support to existing customers who are diagnosed with cancer.

Insurance companyCancer support options
AIG logoAIG provides a £300 discretionary fund for members undergoing cancer treatment to support you with the additional cost of things like wigs for patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Royal London logoRoyal London’s serious illness benefit pays out up to £350,000 if you or your child are diagnosed with cancer.  
This will also pay out for other serious diagnoses such as MS, benign brain tumour, or dementia.
Zurich logoZurich’s ‘Accelerate’ benefit can be added for an extra cost which supports you with any future diagnosis of cancer or a heart or neurological condition.

Cancer will usually be covered as part of an existing life insurance policy, as standard policies won’t exclude pre-existing conditions. If you die due to cancer, your loved ones can claim a cash lump sum to support them with things like mortgage payments and the cost of your funeral.

Some insurance companies will be far more suitable for someone with a history of cancer, especially if you have received treatment within the last 5 or 10 years. The policies that will work best for you will depend on the type of cancer that you had and how long you have been in remission for.

In some cases, you may be able to get covered by a standard insurer if it has been many years since you had cancer. For people who have had cancer more recently, a specialist insurance company (e.g. The Exeter) may be a more appropriate choice.

The best advice we can offer here is that you should get proper advice to find out the best insurance options available to you. With specialist advice, there are often options for someone with a history of cancer that may not be available through mainstream insurance companies or price comparison websites like MoneySupermarket or GoCompare.

Life Insurance provider reviews

The cost of life insurance after cancer can vary massively depending on what stage of recovery you are in and other standard factors like your age. When applying for life insurance, insurers will base their prices on things like:

  • Your age when you apply
  • Your occupation
  • How much cover you need (£s)
  • The type of life insurance (term life insurance, whole life, over 50s, family income benefit etc)
  • Policy term (how long you want to be covered for)
  • Health and lifestyle

Most people who we speak to who have had cancer ask us about the potential price of cover, as they are worried that life insurance will be too expensive for them. While life insurance prices are often slightly higher, it can still be possible to find affordable life cover after cancer.

To show exactly what we mean, our insurance experts have put together the table below to display the details of a real live policy for a cancer survivor.

Details of applicantMr G. was born in 1987 and is a non-smoker.
Cancer details and informationMr G. has recovered from testicular cancer after being diagnosed 5 years before applying for cover. He has had the testicle removed and has been treated with chemotherapy.
Other health informationHeight: 5’10” / Weight: 74kg
Mr G. also has ulcerative colitis and has had his large intestine removed.
Cover requirementsMr G. wanted £180,000 of decreasing life insurance to protect his mortgage.
Monthly premiums (£s)£32.24 per month
Guaranteed (fixed) premiums
Standard insurance company (Legal & General)

How much is a life insurance cancer pay out?

Unsurprisingly, cancer is one of the most common reasons for claims on life insurance in the UK. The average life insurance pay out in the UK in 2022 was £73,578 according to the Association of British Insurers, and many of these claims will have been due to deaths related to cancer.

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If you have critical illness cover and are diagnosed with cancer, most policies will pay out a cash lump sum to help support you financially while you are being treated.

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 other common reasons for claims include:

The funds received from a critical illness claim can be used to cover expenses such as paying your mortgage or rent payments or making necessary adjustments to your home.

Note: You must have critical illness cover before being diagnosed with cancer to be eligible to claim. You cannot claim for a pre-existing cancer diagnosis after buying a critical illness insurance policy.

Which cancers are covered by critical illness cover?

Cancer is the single biggest reason for critical illness insurance claims in the UK and most types of cancer will normally be covered. You will usually be covered for common types of cancer like:

However, in some cases, insurers may not pay for less advanced cases of cancer or will pay out a lower amount. It will all depend on what is specified in the terms and conditions for your policy.

Some of the cancers that might not be covered include less advanced cases of breast cancer or prostate cancer, as these cancers are considered more treatable.

Why can’t cancer patients get life insurance?

Current cancer patients won’t be able to get standard life insurance due to the increased risk of needing to claim on their policy. Insurers will be extremely wary of offering traditional cover, which is why many cancer patients end up choosing alternative policies instead.

Can you claim on life insurance if you have cancer?

If you were to die due to cancer or anything related, your loved ones would be able to claim on your policy. They would then receive a cash lump sum to support them in covering important costs such as mortgage repayments and funeral bills.

Many people are put off from applying for life insurance after a cancer diagnosis because they think it won’t be available, or it will be too difficult to get.

As long as you have the right advice and support, it can still be very possible to get life insurance after having cancer or other health conditions.

Our specialist cancer life insurance brokers can help you to find the most appropriate level of cover for your specific needs and budget. You can get in touch for free and friendly advice by CLICKING HERE or calling 0800 009 6559.

We have worked with many cancer charities in the past to support the brilliant work they do, including our Charity of the Year for 2021 – Teenage Cancer Trust.

We are very proud to currently partner with UK breast cancer charity Pink Ribbon Foundation in helping people with breast cancer and their loved ones to find suitable and affordable insurance policies.

iam|INSURED in partnership with Pink Ribbon Foundation

Useful resources

Pink Ribbon Foundation

The Pink Ribbon Foundation is a grant making trust with a mission to fund projects and provide financial support to UK charities which relieve the need of people suffering from, have been affected by breast cancer or who work to advance the understanding of breast cancer and it’s early detection and treatment.

There are a large number of such charities in the UK, each as deserving as the next. Many of the charities supported are the smaller ones which operate on a shoestring.

Contact details

Telephone – 01689 858877
Email – enquiries@pinkribbonfoundation.org.uk
Website – PinkRibbonFoundation.org.uk

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Can I get life insurance with pre-existing conditions?

Yes, you will be able to get life insurance with almost any pre-existing medical condition, as long as it is not terminal. If traditional life insurance is not available due to the severity of your symptoms, then there are other guaranteed and specialist life insurance options, such as:

  • Accidental death
  • Over 50s life insurance
  • Guaranteed life insurance

Some of the most common examples of life insurance with pre-existing conditions are:

  • Overweight or High BMI life insurance
  • Diabetes life insurance (e.g. Type 2 or Type 1 diabetes)
  • Cancer life insurance
  • Heart attack or heart disease life insurance
  • Mental health life insurance
  • Multiple Sclerosis life insurance
  • Autoimmune disorders life insurance
  • HIV life insurance

There are literally thousands of types and variations of pre-exisiting medical conditions and so your situation is likely to be different to someone else. Life insurance with pre-existing conditions will take a number of elements in to account:

  • Severity and type of symptoms
  • Dates of diagnosis, episodes or attacks, and treatments
  • Any ongoing treatment and medications

Your life insurance premiums will be based on your own individual circumstances and how much cover you need. You should be able to adjust the levels of cover to suit your budget and it’s just as important to make sure that you at least have some cover in place.

What does Martin Lewis say about life insurance with pre-existing conditions?

MoneySavingExpert.com suggests that life insurance will ‘cost a lot more’ with a pre-existing medical condition. This is not true and it really does depend on your own individual circumstances so don’t be put off by this as they are not experts in this area.

It is true that some circumstances where the pre-existing medical condition is serious or severe, premiums can be higher to reflect the additional mortality risks. Ultimately, your life insurance premiums are unfortunately based on how likely you are to claim or if you have a higher chance of death within the policy term.

Martin Lewis doesn’t provide any real substance to his comment about pre-existing conditions life insurance and that’s not good enough. You should speak to a medical life insurance specialist to get a fully underwritten quote before you make any final decisions about whether or not you can afford to protect your family.

How much is life insurance with pre-existing conditions?

Most traditional life insurance providers will accept applications for people with pre-existing medical conditions. Often, you will have a number of potential options from several different insurance providers so you can usually save money as well by shopping around.

Historically you might have had less offers when you apply for life insurance with pre-existing conditions, but fortunately that is changing. Most of the more well-known high street life insurance brands are now offering more competitive rates and more flexible underwriting.

Top tips to save money on life insurance with pre-existing conditions:

  • Speak to pre-existing medical conditions specialist (these companies will understand the market better and should know which insurers will be cheapest for you)
  • Shop around and get different quotes (same as everything else, by shopping around you’ll get a better idea of what a good price is and what different companies offer)
  • Apply at the best time (timing can be important when applying for life insurance with pre-existing conditions, usually when symptoms are stable and not before or after treatment)

There are also other things to take into consideration, such as if you’re a smoker or if your weight is higher than normal. Can you do anything to improve your situation that might help to reduce your life insurance premiums.

Best life insurance for pre-existing conditions?

The best life insurance for pre-existing conditions will be different for each individual, based on their circumstances and the details of their health or medical history. There are certainly some insurance providers who are better for people with pre-existing medical conditions than others, such as:

  • The Exeter (better for people with more severe symptoms and serious health problems)
  • Legal & General (can sometimes be good for certain pre-existing medical conditions, especially mild to moderate symptoms)
  • Royal London (offers a number of specialist products and policies for certain pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes and mental health)
  • Scottish Widows (sometimes good for moderate medical conditions and offers flexible underwriting for certain conditions)
  • The Guardian (also offers flexible underwriting towards some pre-existing medical conditions)
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