Find Out How to Buy Life Insurance After Cancer Remission

Published: October 12, 2018

If you or a loved one have had a cancer scare, you know that one of the first things that you're confronted with is the possibility of death. According to Cancer Australia, it is estimated that over 138,000 new cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2018, with an estimated 48,586 deaths will result from the disease.

Because getting life insurance with cancer cover when diagnosed or in remission can be very complicated, you might want to make sure you have the right type of policy and enough cover, especially if you have a family history of cancer.

With medical advances and improved treatments, cancer mortality rates are declining by an average of 1.7% each year since 1998 (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare). People are beating cancer and with that comes the question of whether you can take out a life policy when in remission.

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Does life insurance cover cancer?

Term life insurance policies in Australia generally pays out a lump sum benefit if you die due to natural causes, such as cancer, or because of an accident. If you already have a life insurance policy in place and get diagnosed with cancer, as per the insurer's definition, and pass away because of the disease, your benefit will typically be paid to your nominated beneficiaries.

Life insurance for terminally ill cancer patients

When diagnosed with terminal cancer, also known as end-stage cancer, and your medical specialist believes the disease will result in your death within 12 to 24 months, depending on your insurer, your full life cover benefit will generally pay out in advance. However, you’ll need to meet all the terms and conditions of your policy and often a second opinion from an independent medical specialist will be required.

Does life insurance pay if you die of cancer?

Generally, yes if you have a life policy that covers death due to natural causes and you fully disclosed all relevant and important information when you initially applied for coverage, your death benefit will usually be paid to your nominated beneficiaries. However, if you did not fully disclose all information, for example, in the past you’ve sought medical advice for cancer-related symptoms, your claim could be affected and even denied.

Can you get life insurance as a cancer survivor in Australia?

Buying life insurance after cancer might be difficult and expensive, but it’s not impossible. Cancer survivors who’ve been in remission of some years are generally more likely to qualify for life cover, as opposed to current cancer patients. If you’ve previously had cancer, it’s defined as a pre-existing condition and as such whether you can get cover and at what cost depends on several factors, including:

  • Whether you have a family history of cancer,
  • The type of cancer you had, its stage and whether it metastasised,
  • The location of the cancer, the size and its effect on your lymph nodes,
  • Date of diagnosis,
  • How long you’ve been in remission and if you've had any relapses,
  • Treatments and medications you're using now and used in the past,
  • Whether you’ve had multiple occurrences of the specific cancer,
  • Your health status and if you suffered from any other cancer types

Other information your insurer will generally need, includes your general health, smoking status, BMI, age and gender, and the amount of cover you want.

How to buy life insurance after being diagnosed with cancer

If you’re applying for life insurance when in cancer remission you may want to request a broker to conduct a pre-assessment for you. By doing a pre-assessment you’re able to find out how an insurance company might assess your particular medical information and personal requirements without having to provide your details, it's completely anonymous.

When you're ready to apply for coverage and want to have the process go as smoothly as possible, make sure you have the following available:

  • Answers to the questions mentioned above, including the type of cancer you had and when you were diagnosed.
  • All necessary medical records, from your first pathology report to the most recent one, this includes your treatment records.
  • Results of your follow-up appointments showing how diligently you follow your doctor’s treatment plan. Provide records of everything, even physical therapy sessions.

Every person's cancer diagnosis is different. The more information you provide, the more likely you are to find a policy that offers the best possible cover for your requirements at a premium you can afford.

Request a Pre-Assessment

Which life insurance companies cover pre-existing cancer?

Each life insurance company has their own underwriting guidelines. So, before you purchase a policy, shop around and compare quotes to make sure the coverage offered and the premium you’ll pay makes sense for your family, and financial situation.

A life insurance company's main concern is generally the risk associated with a policy they issue. So, depending on your application and all the medical information your provided, a company might decide to:

  • Offer cover at standard rates under ideal circumstances,
  • Provide cover, but exclude cancer and other pre-existing conditions related to it,
  • Increase the premium you'll pay by adding a loading onto your policy, or
  • Decline cover because they are not willing to take the risk of insuring you.

Does trauma insurance cover cancer?

Generally, a lump sum trauma benefit will be paid upon diagnosis of cancer. However, whether a claim is valid depends on the policy definition of the disease. For example, cancer might be defined as any a malignant tumour characterised by the uncontrolled growth and spread of cancerous cells requiring significant interventionist treatment.

It's important to read the product disclosure statement (PDS) to ensure you know exactly what the policy does and does not cover.

Cancer-affected households often encounter lost income and out-of-pocket expenses relating to transport, medications, specialist clothing and mobility devices, as well as childcare and housekeeping costs. The amount of trauma insurance payable depends on the cover amount you’ve chosen.

Select insurers may offer optional benefits for an extra fee, for example, the accommodation benefit and family support benefits for individuals who need to travel long distances to receive treatment. These additional benefits are great for family members who need to take time off work to care for their loved ones.

Examples of the types of cancers covered by trauma insurance

Skin cancer

Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer and is a common occurrence in Australia.

Lung cancer

Cancer affecting your lungs is the most common cause of cancer death in Australia and effects bother smokers and non-smokers.

Breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Australian women, excluding non-melanoma skin cancer. However, men can also develop cancer of the breasts.

Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women worldwide and is almost always caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

Prostate cancer

If detected early and treated quickly there is a high chance of survival. The Cancer Foundation of Australia recommends that all men over the age of 50 go for annual assessments. If you have a family history, you should go for a check-up from the age of 40.

Bowel cancer

Both men and women are at risk of developing bowel cancer. In Australia, it’s more common in people over the age of 50.

Whether critical illness insurance will pay a benefit when diagnosed with one of the above cancer examples depends on the insurer’s definition of that specific cancer. Please remember to consult the company’s PDS to make sure.

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Ask an Expert?


  • Kate |

    Are there any life insurance companies that will accept a person who has had cancer before? My husband has been in remission for over 6 years. His details are as follows
    * No family history of cancer
    * His cancer was Hodgkins Lymphoma, stage 2, it did not manifest, after 4 months of chemo he was in remission
    * Location of cancer was in lymph nodes around the neck
    * Date diagnosed 24th December 2012
    * He has been in remission since May 2013. Checkups were 6 monthly with nil reassurances. Checkups now changed to 2 yearly due to repeated confirmation of nil reassurance
    * ABVD Chemo was used between 24/12/12-24/04/13, no further treatment or medications were required
    * Nil recurrences or any other health conditions evident
    * Non-Smoker 39-year-old healthy male

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Hello Kate. Great news about your husband’s recovery.

      It is generally possible to get life insurance after cancer. However, each life insurance company has its own underwriting guidelines when assessing the type of cancer, treatments received and the amount of time your husband has been symptom-free.

      You might want to request a pre-assessment first – an anonymous way to determine the possible outcome when applying for life insurance when you have a pre-existing medical condition, without it affecting your actual application. It doesn’t cost you anything and will provide you a good idea on what to expect regarding the terms and cost of a policy.

      Give us a call on 1300 743 254 to request a pre-assessment. Please also provide a copy of the histology report.

  • Yang |

    Hi, can I still get life insurance with trauma coverage? I’ve been trying to apply with other companies but they can only cover me for accidental death cover due to my history of cancer

    Ive been diagnosed initially with stage1a endometrial adenocarcinoma and had total hysterectomy and removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes. Final microscopic result showed complex atypical hyperplasia. No adenocarcinoma is seen.

    No chemotherapy/radiation etc. I’m only on HRT because I was only 43 when my ovaries were removed. I’m now turning 46. Almost 3 years cancer-free in May. No further treatment required. Despite the final result, I’m still flagged by my oncologist as stage 1a. I asked him and he said it’s just precautionary.

    I’m a non-smoker and non-drinker. My family history, my mom died of ovarian cancer. But back in 3rd world country in the 70’s no treatment done initially so it progressed.

    I tried to apply but been rejected already. Does this mean they can’t cover me due to my and my family history?

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Hi Yang.

      Congratulations on your prognosis!

      Because every life insurance company has its own underwriting guidelines, one company might only offer accidental cover, while another might offer a policy with an increased premium to cover your risk profile.

      You might want to request that we do a pre-assessment for you, wherein we fill out all your particulars, including health and family history, and send it off to the 9 life insurance brands we currently compare and then see which one provides you with coverage that meets your requirements.

      Please give us a call on 1300 743 254 and a specialist will take you through the process.