Melissa Morris has a BS and MS in exercise science and a doctorate in educational leadership. She is an ACSM certified exercise physiologist and an ISSN certified sports nutritionist. She teaches nutrition and applied kinesiology at the University of Tampa. She has been featured on Yahoo, HuffPost, Eat This, Bulletproof, Vitacost, LIVESTRONG, Toast Fried, The Trusty Spotter, Best Comp...

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insur...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Apr 24, 2022

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The Brief

  • Guaranteed issue life insurance is a sure thing for terminal cancer patients
  • Guaranteed issue policies don’t require medical exams or questionnaires to qualify
  • Consider term life or whole life insurance if you have good to moderate health

Battling a terminal cancer diagnosis is an overwhelming experience. With so many unknowns to work through, we believe that you should have the peace of mind that your loved ones will be left in the best financial situation possible.

In this article, we’ll look at a guaranteed issue, term life, and whole life insurance policies, how they compare, and how to qualify. When you’re ready to compare top rates on life insurance policies, just enter your ZIP code to get free quotes for coverage in your area, and start saving.

Life Insurance for Terminal Cancer Patients

Can you get life insurance if you have cancer? Yes, it is still possible, even following a terminal diagnosis. Guaranteed issue life insurance, also known as guaranteed acceptance life insurance, doesn’t require a medical exam for you to qualify, and you can’t be turned down.

When you apply for guaranteed issue life insurance, you can’t be turned down unless you don’t meet insurance company qualifications. Individuals who seek guaranteed issue policies are older (usually between 50-80 years old) and have existing illnesses that are most often terminal.

If you are younger and in good to moderate health, consider a term life or whole life insurance policy. Term life and whole life policies require a medical exam and health questionnaire to qualify, but will ultimately provide you the widest variety of coverage options. These policies also have lower monthly premiums than guaranteed issue policies and higher death benefits.

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Do I need a medical exam to qualify for a guaranteed issue policy?

Most life insurance policies require a physical exam and detailed medical history for you to qualify for coverage. This means you must be in good to moderate health, with no pre-existing conditions. You may be wondering what happens when you don’t currently have a life insurance policy and have just been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Despite what you might think, you are still able to obtain coverage.

Guaranteed issue life insurance is exactly that—it’s guaranteed, despite your current medical condition and medical background. Additionally, no health exam and no health history are required to gain coverage. Provided you meet company qualifications, you can’t be turned down, giving you the peace of mind that your final expenses will be covered.

Does traditional life Insurance cover cancer?

It is important to speak with the insurance company to discuss whether you are eligible for term life or whole life coverage. Keep in mind that different companies may have differing exclusions, so doing plenty of research is important. Generally speaking, the following health conditions may disqualify you from eligibility, because they are considered too high risk:

  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Blood conditions
  • Cancers
  • Diabetes
  • Heart conditions
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Liver and kidney diseases
  • Mental health conditions (PTSD, schizophrenia)
  • Neurological conditions (MS, epilepsy)
  • Respiratory conditions (emphysema, asthma)

Insurance companies will require a medical exam and medical history to confirm eligibility for buying term life and whole life coverage. Guaranteed issue life insurance policies ensure coverage despite any of the above conditions, including a terminal cancer diagnosis.

Expected Guaranteed Issue Policy Death Benefit

Most insurance companies offer guaranteed issue coverage ranging in payout from $2,000 – $25,000 (cap). If you will need additional coverage, there is the option to stack policies, so your beneficiaries receive multiple payouts from multiple companies.

Stacking policies (purchasing multiple policies from multiple companies) is the only way to maximize payout, beyond the typical $25,000 cap. Although stacking life insurance policies is legal, you can only qualify for a combined coverage of up to 15 times your annual income. 

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What are the benefits of a guaranteed issue policy?

Benefits will depend largely on the company you work through. Most have the following benefits in common:

  • Premiums don’t change through the duration of the policy unless you fail to pay. If default occurs, you may be at risk of policy cancellation or increased monthly premiums.
  • Your death benefit won’t change over time unless you fail to pay your monthly premium or loans are taken out against the cash value of the policy. Benefit reduction may occur in either of these circumstances.
  • There are no medical exams or medical histories required to qualify for coverage.
  • Policies are valid for life and are considered permanent coverage.

Guaranteed Issue Policy Limitations

Limitations will ultimately depend on the company you purchase through. You can generally expect to see the following:

Two or Three Year Graded Death Benefit Limitation (or waiting period): Typically two or three years following the policy issue date, your beneficiaries will be eligible to receive a full payout plus 10%. If you have been given a time to live that is less than the waiting period, you could be disqualified from a payout.

Accidental Death Limitation: You could be disqualified from a payout if accidental death occurs before the graded death benefit limitation.

Suicide: Suicide is rarely covered, regardless of when the death occurred.

Is a guaranteed issue policy expensive?

Although premium costs for guaranteed issue policies will differ from company to company, they are typically more expensive than traditional policies.

Since insurance companies are prohibited from requesting any medical information when issuing guaranteed issue policies, they have no way of determining your remaining living years, and therefore the risk involved with granting you coverage. It is due to this lack of medical information that this policy is more expensive than more traditional life insurance coverage.

The Difference Between Guaranteed Issue, Term Life, and Whole Life Insurance Coverage

Although traditional life insurance policies may offer a higher death benefit, a terminal cancer patient will find it next to impossible to qualify for coverage. Here’s a quick guide on how guaranteed issue, term life, and whole life policies work, and what it takes to qualify:

Guaranteed Issue: Good for older individuals who don’t qualify for other types of life insurance, due to a high-risk medical diagnosis such as terminal cancer. No medical exam or medical history is required to apply, and acceptance is guaranteed.

Term Life: A premium is paid for some time, typically between 10 and 30 years. If you die during that time, a cash payout is made to your family, or whomever you name as your beneficiary. A health screening and health questionnaire are required to qualify, and it is unlikely you’ll qualify with significant health issues.

Whole Life: Unlike term life insurance, whole life insurance is considered a permanent policy, and doesn’t exist within a specific period. Although premiums for whole life policies are still high, there is a savings component that term life policies do not offer. Whole life insurance cost will depend on your current health, age, and the company you select for coverage.

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Is guaranteed issue life insurance for me?

Although a guaranteed issue policy should be the last resort for those suffering a terminal diagnosis, it’s always good to consider the following when researching your options:

  • Are you healthy enough to apply for a term life insurance policy? 
  • What are you looking to gain from a life insurance policy?
  • Has your term life insurance policy lapsed, leaving you without coverage?
  • Are you in need of a policy that you can purchase quickly, without the requirement of medical exams or questionnaires to qualify?

Answering these questions will help you to reach a better understanding of whether or not a guaranteed issue policy is for you.

The Right Life Insurance for Cancer Patients

It is important to do plenty of research before moving forward with an insurance company. It’s good to remember that policies can differ company-to-company, and some policies may offer higher payouts than others. It may also be possible that a term life or whole life insurance policy may be a better fit for where you are in your treatment.

It’s also worth noting that the type of medical treatments and care you’re receiving are important. It will be important to be open and honest about what methods you or your loved one are pursuing in this time. 

For some, those treatments may include chemotherapy, experimental treatments, or other avenues such as CBD oil products.  Naturally, opinions will vary in terms on what treatments are reliable. According to Su Roberts, company director at Beliebis UK, “CBD is one of nature’s true gifts in life. We strive to provide CBD Oil products with British Quality at affordable prices, making CBD & its vast potential available to everyone.”

We know that finding the right life insurance for a terminal cancer patient can be difficult. With the help of the information in this article, you should have a better understanding of whether a guaranteed issue life insurance may be a good fit for you, or if a term or whole life policy may be a better choice. When you’re ready, enter your ZIP code into the bar at the top of this page to get quotes from insurance companies in your area.