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Life insurance for cancer patients and survivors explained 

A guide to getting life insurance or making a claim for cancer.
Cancer is likely to affect 1 in 2 people in the UK.1 This guide will answer questions you may have about life insurance and cancer. You can also find out more about
life insurance before and after a cancer diagnosis as well as how to make a claim.

Does life insurance cover cancer?

Whilst 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. 

Some types of life insurance, such as whole of life and term life, will pay out if you die of cancer. Others will pay out if you’re diagnosed with cancer. This includes cover like serious illnessmortgage protection and income protection. A payout is dependent on your personal situation and the type of cancer.

Some insurers may even offer specific benefits for those with cancer. Vitality’s Cancer Relapse Benefit provides cover if you have a recurrence after your first claim. 

Can I get life insurance if I currently have cancer or have been diagnosed with cancer in the past?

While cancer can make it more challenging to get a life insurance policy, it’s not impossible. It may mean that your premiums increase. Or it could mean that you can’t apply for certain policies. The level of cover you receive and the cost of your premiums will depend on the type of cancer you have (or had). It also depends on the amount of time since your diagnosis or recovery.

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 accurately. 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. 

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. 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. 

Having a family history of cancer

If you have a family history of cancer, it may be worth taking out life insurance. This would 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 higher risk. But buying insurance is always worth thinking about. It can prove invaluable to your family or beneficiaries if something were to happen to you. 

During the quote process, the provider may ask you if your family has a history of cancer. If yes, the insurer may ask which member(s) of your family were diagnosed. They will want to know the type of cancer, the outcome and how old they were when they were diagnosed. 

Your answers will help determine the level of cover and premiums. Some cancers are passed down through the family, which means that you’d be more likely to inherit them. But, if the person in your family was diagnosed when they were older, your premiums could be brought down.

I already have life insurance, how will being diagnosed with cancer affect my existing policy?

Depending on the type of diagnosis and cover you have, you may be eligible to make a claim. But, if you’re diagnosed with cancer and already have life insurance, your policy could change. 

Even before a diagnosis, remember to tell your provider of any changes to your health. While your premiums may go up in the short term, not telling the insurer, means they might not pay out later.

What to tell your life insurance provider if you have been diagnosed with cancer

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, 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.

How to claim on your life insurance if you receive a cancer diagnosis

If you have a life insurance policy that covers cancer and you’ve received a diagnosis, you can make a claim. To do so, you should contact your insurance provider and ask them how to go about it.

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 financial support following a cancer diagnosis

If you need financial support after a cancer diagnosis, there are plenty of organisations offering help. These include: 

Cancer Research UK - They offer financial and emotional support advice, including information on government benefits that could help.
Citizens Advice - They have a Cancer Support Service. It helps people with cancer get back on their feet if they are struggling after a diagnosis.

If you are thinking about buying life insurance with cancer features, speak to one of our advisers today. 


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.