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Does Trauma Insurance Cover Skin Cancer in Australia

life insurance for people with cancer
Russell Cain Updated: 03 September 2020
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Skin cancer in Australia is one of the most common forms of cancer. According to the Australian Government Cancer Council (2017), 10.4% of all cancers diagnosed in Australia were melanomas, usually black or brown skin spots that resemble moles, and although not the most common type of skin cancer, it caused the most deaths.

Trauma insurance covers you for all kinds of diseases and ailments, with select life insurance companies covering skin cancers. However, it all depends on how your life insurance company defines ‘cancer’, ‘skin cancer’ and ‘melanoma’.

Historically, cancer was associated with high morbidity rates. However, with medical advances, increased awareness and the roll-out of skin cancer screening programs previous life-threatening cancers are now being treated successfully. This is why having critical illness insurance is so important, to help cover the medical costs and support you and your family while you are unable to work during treatment and recovery.

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Skin Cancer in Australia

Two in three Australians are typically diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70. According to the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (2017), melanoma was most common in men between the ages of 25 and 49 and the 4th most common cancer diagnosed in Australian women. Because skin cancer in Australia continues to grow at an alarming rate, trauma insurance has become essential.

If you spend your weekends working in the garden, sunbathing on the beach or merely going to the shops without proper SPF protection, you could be in danger of developing skin cancer.

Skin cancer statistics in Australia

In 2017, it was estimated that 1 in every 17 Australians would be diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer by their 85th birthday. In 2018, there has already been an estimated 14,320 people diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer, approximately 60% males and 40% female, according to the Australian Government Cancer Council.

Estimated age-specific incidences of melanoma skin cancer in Australia

Source: Australian Government Cancer (2017)

What is the survival rate of skin cancer?

The estimated number of deaths from skin cancer in 2018 is about 13.3%. While it is still the 8th most common cause of death from cancer in Australia, there are far more people that survive the diagnosis.

The survival rate of skin cancer is why trauma insurance is so important. A trauma insurance claim can help fund medical costs and pay bills while you have time off work to recover.

Estimated age-specific mortality rates for melanoma skin cancer in Australia

Source: Australian Government Cancer (2017)

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is a disease which occurs when skin cells are damaged, for example, by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. They appear as abnormal lesions, bumps or moles on the skin.

Melanomas are measured according to their size and depth using the ‘Clarks Level’ and ‘Breslow Scales’.

Clarks Level: Rates 1 to 5, five being the most severe.

Breslow Scale: Measures thickness, the greater the thickness, the higher your risk.

The different types of skin cancer

Malignant Melanoma

The most dangerous form of skin cancer. Grows very quickly and needs to be treated as soon as possible because they spread to other parts of the body and can be fatal. Melanomas can appear as an existing mole changing colour and size or new spots, be on the lookout for:

  • Colour changes, for example, skin bumps that have become blotchy or darker.
  • A difference in size, check whether moles have gotten bigger.
  • Changes in shape, look at the border and height.
  • Itchy and bleeding moles.

Non-melanoma Skin Cancer

The two most common forms of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

  • Basal cell carcinoma
    The most common and least dangerous form of skin cancer. It grows slowly, usually on your head, neck or upper torso. Typically removed surgically with no further treatment required, because it usually does not spread to other tissues.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
    Generally, presents itself as a red patch or nodule and appears on areas of the skin most frequently exposed to the sun. Not as dangerous as melanoma, but can metastasise or spread to other parts of the body.

Will trauma insurance payout for skin cancer?

For a skin cancer claim to be valid under a trauma insurance policy, most life insurance companies will generally require the melanoma to be malignant and/or the tumour to be at least a Clark Level 3 or a size equal to or greater than 1.5mm; unless the cancer has spread to other organs.

If you have been diagnosed with malignant melanoma, your insurer will likely want to know if the cancer was “in situ”, meaning was the cancer localised (in its original place) or has it spread past the upper layer of skin.

All non-melanoma cancers are usually not covered under critical illness insurance unless there is evidence that it has spread to other organs.

Typical cancer definitions may have exclusions like the following:

How do trauma insurance policies define skin cancer?

If a trauma policy does cover skin cancer, it is typically under their ‘cancer definition’; however, certain limitations and/or exclusions will usually apply. Trauma insurance which covers skin cancer under the ‘cancer definition’ may result in full payment.

Most Australian critical illness policies generally exclude skin cancers, unless it has metastasised to other organs or the tumour is a malignant melanoma of 1.5mm thickness or bigger and a minimum of a Clark Level 3. Non-melanoma skin cancer will usually not be covered, including:

Definitions of a valid skin cancer claim vary from each insurer. Please review the company’s product disclosure statement (PDS) for specifics.

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Select insurers may also have an additional ‘melanoma’ or ‘skin cancer’ definition; though these are only typically covered in a ‘Trauma Plus’ policy at an additional cost. Again, these extra definitions will typically have conditions and/or exclusions placed on them.

Trauma Plus policies may cover melanomas under the ‘melanoma definition’, although it may only result in partial payment. If you have a family history of cancer or skin cancer, then a plus trauma policy may be beneficial.

Life insurance with cancer of the skin

If you had skin cancer before applying for life cover, it will usually be seen as a pre-existing medical condition. Life insurance for those who had skin cancer may be available at standard rates, or at an additional cost or it might be excluded from cover depending on various factors, including:

Life insurance companies in Australia will generally also want to look at your age when you were diagnosed. When applying for life cover, make sure to have all this information ready.

If you have been diagnosed with either squamous cell or basal cell carcinoma or a low staging skin cancer that occurred a few years ago, you may be deemed eligible for life insurance at standard rates.

If the skin cancer was high staging or recent then the insurance company may either exclude skin cancer from being covered, place a premium loading on cover or decline cover altogether.

The cost of a life insurance policy when you had skin cancer in the past will usually rely heavily on the above-provided information.

Every life insurance company has their own underwriting guidelines, which is why you’ll need to shop around and compare policies to find life cover best suited to your requirements.

Are you at risk of developing skin cancer?

Even one bad sun burn can double your risk of developing melanoma later in life. When the cells of your skin get damaged, they mutate.

Skin Cancer Causes

Your risk of developing melanoma increases with exposure to UV radiation. So, sunburn and tanning without SPF protection may cause skin cancer, even when doing so unintentionally, for example, if you drive a lot, surf, or fly frequently.

Your risk of developing skin cancer increases if you have:

Skin Cancer Symptoms

Skin cancer treatment and tests

If treated early skin cancer is not life-threatening. A yearly skin cancer check from a skin clinic or your GP can help detect any possible skin cancer or tumours as they arise.

If your doctor suspect’s skin cancer, they may perform a biopsy, i.e. remove a small sample of tissue for examination under a microscope. Common skin cancers can be treated with ointments or radiation therapy.

If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, the cancer is almost always removed. If your skin cancer is more advanced, some of the surrounding tissue may also be removed. Skin cancer removal can be done via:

To find out if your trauma insurance policy covers skin cancer, fill in the form above and one of our specialist team members will give you a call to help you find trauma cover that provides the benefits you need to make a claim.

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