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Life insurance for cancer patients and survivors explained 

Discover life insurance options as a cancer patient or survivor. Learn how your condition can affect your cover and how to find the right policy for you.

There are around 375,000 new cancer cases in the UK every year. That's around 1,000 every day.1 Cancer diagnosis can have devastating effects on families. No wonder people are thinking about protecting families against the impact cancer could have on their lives. Life insurance can help with that.

But there are a lot of questions about life insurance with cancer. Can you get life insurance if you have cancer? Or what about life insurance for cancer survivors? We are here to help answer these questions and help you find the right policy for you.

Does life insurance cover cancer?

Whether you’re dealing with a diagnosis or have a family history of cancer, you might wonder how your life insurance will be affected. Depending on your provider and the type of insurance, the cover for people diagnosed with cancer can vary.

Some types of life insurance, such as whole of life and term life, will pay out if you die of cancer. Others, like serious illnessmortgage protection and income protection will pay out if you’re diagnosed with cancer.

Whether you get a payout and how much is dependent on your personal situation and the type of cancer.

While some life insurance providers offer cover for cancer, not all do. It's important to check the policy wording to find out what cover you could get. This is important as not all insurers cover all types of cancer. If you’re unsure, ask if the provider offers a specific type of cancer cover.


Can I get life insurance if I have cancer?

While cancer can make it more challenging to get a life insurance policy, it’s not impossible. A diagnosis may mean that your premiums will increase. Or it could mean that you can’t apply for certain policies, but you still have options. 

The level of cover you receive and the cost of your premiums will depend on the type of cancer you have. It also depends on the time since your diagnosis.

The best way to find out if an insurer offers cancer cover for your personal situation is to get a quote. Try to answer all medical and health-related questions to get the most accurate quote. Common questions can include: 

How long ago was your diagnosis? 
What were the results of any recent tests or scans? 
Where is the cancer and has it spread? 
Are you currently receiving treatment and, if not, when will you receive it?
What medication are you taking? 

Some of these questions may need detailed information. We’d recommend being as thorough as possible and seeking quotes as and when you feel ready to answer them. 

Can I get life insurance after having cancer?

If you have previously received a cancer diagnosis and undergone treatment, you can still qualify for life insurance. The level of cover and the cost of your premiums will depend on the type of cancer you had and the time since your recovery.

Insurers will consider a few key factors when assessing your life insurance application, like:

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

The insurer might ask for additional medical information from your GP, but this isn’t anything to worry about. It can actually be useful as it ensures your cover is valid and can help to avoid issues during the claims process.

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

If you have a family history of cancer, taking out life insurance can help you protect your family and finances in case you become ill.

Having a family history might mean you pay higher premiums. This is because the insurer may see you as a higher risk. 

During the quote process, the provider may ask you if your family has a history of cancer. If the answer is yes, the insurer may ask you for more details. Like,

  • Their relationship to you (parent, sibling etc.)
  • The type of cancer they had
  • How old they were when diagnosed
  • Did they recover

Your answers will help determine the level of cover and premiums.

Life insurance for terminal cancer patients

If you get a terminal cancer diagnosis after purchasing a whole of life insurance policy, you could get a payout before you die. Normally you could do this if you are expected to live for 12 months or less. The rules differ for each insurer. 

If you take out serious illness insurance before a terminal diagnosis, you may receive a cash payout before your death. 

Many providers can give life insurance to those with a pre-existing medical condition. But this does not normally include illnesses that are terminal.

How does a cancer diagnosis affect my existing life insurance policy?

If you have been diagnosed with cancer and already have life insurance, you should contact your insurance provider. They’ll need to know the type of cancer you have been diagnosed with and the date you were diagnosed. The insurer may also ask about any upcoming tests or examinations and to see letters from your GP about your cancer.

Your policy could change, and your premiums may go up in the short term. But not informing the insurer about your diagnosis means they might not pay out later. Also, depending on the type of diagnosis and cover you have, you may be eligible to make a claim. To do so, you should contact your insurance provider.

They may ask you to fill out specific forms with all the relevant information needed. You may also need medical records and doctors’ or hospital letters. It’s worth reading your insurance policy before claiming. Making a claim could make your premiums go up, or your insurer may decide to add an exclusion to your policy. 

If you have a policy with Vitality, you can find the information you need on how to make a claim here.

Getting support following a cancer diagnosis

Getting a cancer diagnosis is a difficult time for anyone. Here at Vitality, we aim to give you the support you need. 

Here are some resources with more information about cancer and cancer support you might find useful:

If you need financial support after a cancer diagnosis, Cancer Research UK offers financial and emotional support advice, including information on government benefits that could help.

If you are thinking about getting life insurance, speak to our helpful advisors about your cover options.

Or get a personalised life insurance quote in minutes by filling out our online form. It's quick, easy and tailored to your needs.

Relevant guides and articles 

  • Serious and critical illness guide

    Serious and critical illness cover pays out a lump sum if you are diagnosed with a serious condition. The condition may not be life threatening, but it still impacts your life.

  • Whole of life guide

    Whole of life insurance guarantees a payout to your loved ones when you die. Find out how this cover can protect your family's financial security and whether it’s the best option for you.

  • Term life guide

    Thinking about life insurance? Find out everything you need to know about term life cover and whether it suits your needs in this guide.