Life Insurance for Prostate Cancer Survivors
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UPDATED: Sep 23, 2019
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Getting life insurance if you have ever had prostate cancer is possible, provided that you can meet certain requirements. Any time you buy a life insurance policy and pose a risk to the insurance company by having a pre-existing condition, you should expect to pay more.
In this article, I will discuss the requirements you must meet in order to qualify for a traditional life insurance policy, the rates you should expect, and the underwriting questions you should be prepared to answer. Lastly, most prostate tumors are adenocarcinomas.
If you had any other forms of prostate cancer, such as lymphoma or sarcoma, then this article isn’t for you.
What Is Prostate Cancer?
According to Mayo Clinic, prostate cancer is cancer that occurs in the prostate, a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. It is one of the most common cancers in men, with more than 3 million cases in the US every year.
Generally, the cancer metastasis slowly is initially confined to the prostate gland and may cause no serious harm. Others are more aggressive and can grow very rapidly. If detected early when it’s still confined to the prostate gland, there is a higher chance of successful treatment.
What Are the Insurance Companies Looking for When Insuring Prostate Cancer Survivors?
As mentioned in previous articles, each and every insurer on the market has different rules and regulations when it comes to underwriting an individual applying for life insurance. They all have different risks they are willing to take when underwriting a potential client. That being said, I will cover the five most critical things they have in common to give you a general idea of what to expect if you are shopping for life insurance with a history of prostate cancer.
How Old Were You When First Diagnosed?
For most, this may seem like a very innocent question. However, the answer might even get you an instant decline or a postponement. Let me clarify – if you were first diagnosed before the age of 50, the more aggressive cancer typically is, so the more potential it has to metastasize further and can eventually cause your death.
Secondly, having it in your forties is a huge concern to the insurance underwriter because a younger person having a disease that mostly happens in an older population shows that your overall health may be in jeopardy. Even if you beat cancer, you may still be required to wait longer before applying for a traditional policy. (If you are over the age of 50, you may need to wait 1 year; under the age of 50 will need to wait 5 years.)
What Was the Cancer’s Stage?
Like other cancers, the growth and spread of prostate cancer is described in stages. In prostate cancer, we have 1 to 4 stages, with 1 being the least aggressive and 4 being the most aggressive.
- In stage 1, a tumor has not spread outside the prostate. These cases are discovered about 80% of the time, with a 5-year survival rate of almost 100%.
- In stage 2, the tumor has not spread outside the prostate, however, the cells may grow quicker.
- In stage 3, the tumor has spread to the nearby seminal vesicles.
- Stage 4 can be described as a very aggressive tumor that has already spread to other parts of the body, such as bones, liver, or other organs.
If your diagnostics show stage 1 or 2, you can qualify for preferred rates, provided your overall health is good. Stage 3, you may still be able to get life insurance, but may need to wait longer after treatment. If you had stage 4, it will be impossible to get a traditional life insurance and you may need to opt for a guaranteed issue policy.
What Was the Cancer’s Grade (Gleason Score)?
Gleason score is another crucial aspect the underwriter will be looking at. The Gleason score is a grading system which is derived from the pathology report. It helps the doctor decide on treatment, and also predict a prognosis. In short, this grading system categorizes the cancerous cells into 5 clear patterns from 1 to 5, with 1 considered low-grade tumor cells and 5 high-grade cells (far from being normal cells).
The pathologist will assign two scores, one for the most predominant pattern, and one for the second most predominant pattern in your biopsy report. Adding these two parameters will give you the Gleason score/grade, from 2-10. Gleason scores 2-4 are less aggressive, while 7-10 are more aggressive. A Gleason score under 6 can get you preferred rates.
What Treatment Did You Have?
The treatment that was recommended to you will give the underwriter a glimpse of the severity of your prostate cancer. There are many treatments out there, such as hormone therapy, radiation, radical prostatectomy, and observation only, to name a few.
From the insurance company’s viewpoint, any time a prostatectomy was successfully performed and the cancer did not spread outside the prostate, it is good news. You can apply for a traditional life insurance a year after the surgery.
What Are Your Current and Pre-Treatment Psa Levels?
Prostate-specific antigen, also called PSA, is a protein produced cells of the prostate gland. PSA is found in both healthy cells and cancer cells and can be evaluated using a blood test. It assists the doctor in deciding upon the type of treatment recommended, or whether or not a biopsy is warranted if PSA levels are too high. Most doctors consider PSA levels of 4.0 ng/mL or lower to be normal. The underwriter expects to see current PSA less than 0.1, if it’s higher than that, it would be considered as recurrence of prostate cancer.
From the insurance company’s point of view here is what they consider insurable or not if you’ve never had prostate cancer:
- Ages 40-49 < 2.5 ng/mL
- Ages 50-59 < 3.5 ng/mL
- Ages 60-69 < 4.5 ng/mL
- Ages 70+ < 6.5 ng/mL
What Other Questions Will the Underwriter Ask?
Keep in mind that the type of policy that you purchase will determine the type of questions you will be asked to answer. For instance, a simplified issue policy that does not require an exam will have a few health questions that require a yes/no answer. On the contrary, a term policy that requires an exam will have these questions (among others):
- Current age
- State of residence
- Height and weight
- Income and liabilities
- High-risk hobbies (if any)
- Current and past health history
- Family history
- Foreign travel
- Smoking habits
- Alcohol habits
- Driving history
- Criminal history
- Prescription usage
Life Insurance with Prostate Cancer Sample Monthly Rates
50-Year-Old Male Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term
60-Year-Old Male Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term
70-Year-Old Male Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term
If you are looking for life insurance and you have had prostate cancer, consider working with an insurance broker. Tackling this project by yourself will not save you any money and will only add frustration and headache to you in the process.
Working with a broker is free because we get paid by the insurance company — we work for you, not them. You can run the quotes on this page and choose the regular health class.