Can I get insurance for cancer?

6 min Read Published: 09 Nov 2023

Can I get insurance for cancer?The simple answer is yes. If you are worried about the financial effects of cancer because of a family history of cancer or because of the increased statistical likelihood of a diagnosis, there are a few different types of insurance that will pay out if you are diagnosed with cancer. Some types of insurance provide funds to help with the financial impact of having cancer, providing a lump sum or income at a time when you may be too unwell to work, while others cater for the treatment and care you may need.

In this article, we will describe each type of insurance and how it helps to fund the financial impacts of cancer.

Can health insurance cover cancer?

Yes, health insurance policies cover many types of cancer. Health insurance - sometimes called private medical insurance - is designed to cover the cost of private treatment, including cancer.

The health insurance company will usually pay the consultant's fees and hospital costs directly. The policyholder is usually only required to pay the agreed excess.

Private health insurance allows policyholders to avoid NHS wait times for investigations and treatment for cancer. It can also provide access to medications not available through the NHS in some cases. Cancer cover can vary depending on the health insurance provider with some providing extended cancer support so it is worth doing some research before buying a policy.

It may be worth speaking to an independent health insurance specialist* if you are considering a health insurance policy that provides the best cancer cover. A specialist can compare health insurance and help guide you to the best option for your budget. You will receive £100 cashback if you arrange your health insurance this way, although there is no obligation to buy - the offer ends 31st July 2024.

Cancer drugs not available on the NHS

If your consultant feels that you would benefit from drugs that are not available with the NHS, your health insurance or cancer insurance essentials could provide access to these. The amount of funding is usually capped and may fall short of what is needed. However, the prospect of some access to valuable treatment can be extremely valuable.

Cancer insurance essentials

There are insurances available that are specifically designed to provide access to funds and treatment if you are diagnosed with cancer.

Aviva cancer essentials insurance is cheap insurance that can give you a cash lump sum of £5,000. It also provides access to up to £100,000 worth of drugs that the NHS doesn't fund.

Can you get health insurance after cancer?

It will depend on your circumstances and medical history but you can get health insurance after a cancer diagnosis. A bit like travel insurance, it will depend on how long it has been since you were diagnosed as well as the type of cancer and the cancer histology.

You can read more about how health insurance covers cancer in our article, "Does health insurance cover cancer?".

Does life insurance cover cancer?

Most life insurance policies include terminal illness benefit which can cover cancer. Terminal illness benefit can be claimed by life insurance policyholders who are diagnosed with stage 4 cancer or any other terminal cancer.

Usually, a life insurance company will require your consultant to confirm that death is likely within 12 months for the terminal illness claim to be successful.

Guardian 1821 uniquely offers a terminal illness payout to all life insurance policyholders if they are diagnosed with incurable stage 4 cancer. There is no need for a consultant to confirm that life expectancy is less than 12 months.

Terminal illness benefit is an early death payment and once it is claimed there is no payment upon death.

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Does your mortgage get paid off if you have cancer?

Your mortgage can be paid off if you have cancer as long as you bought a life or critical illness insurance policy. Life and critical illness insurance policies are usually recommended to you when you arrange your mortgage or through a life insurance broker.

You can buy level or reducing critical illness insurance. Reducing term critical illness insurance is only suitable for protecting a repayment mortgage as the insured amount will keep reducing over the years in line with your mortgage balance. Level term critical illness insurance can be suitable for protecting a repayment or interest-only mortgage.

Critical illness insurance pays out if you meet the definition of an illness that is covered under the policy. Not all cancers are covered but good critical illness cover policies usually pay part of the full sum assured for some less serious cancers too. You can still claim the full payment if you are diagnosed with a more advanced cancer later.

To read more about this type of insurance do read our article, "Critical illness insurance – what is it, and is it worth having?".

Sick pay insurance for cancer treatment

A cancer diagnosis can immediately impact your ability to work. Some patients will continue to work through treatment but it will depend on the severity of the treatment, the effects of the disease and what the person does for a living.

It is difficult to predict what impact a cancer diagnosis will have on your ability to work but you can insure yourself against this eventuality and many other medical conditions.

"Macmillan research has shown that four out of five people with cancer are, on average, £570 a month worse off because of their diagnosis."


Income protection provides a monthly or weekly benefit to replace your income while you are unable to carry out the duties of your normal occupation. This type of insurance is considered extremely valuable because it can be claimed multiple times. A claim can be made as long as your doctor has deemed you unfit to carry out the normal duties of your occupation.

You can read more about this type of insurance in our article, "Income Protection – do you really need it?".

Summary of cancer insurances including the pros and cons

Type of insurance How it works Pros Cons
Health insurance Provides financial funding for the treatment of cancers
  • Avoid NHS waiting times for investigations as well as treatment
  • Possible access to treatments and drugs not available with the NHS
  • Can be expensive with claims making renewals expensive too
  • Will not provide funds for needs outside of your medical treatment
Terminal illness benefit within life insurance Provides an early death payment if the cancer is terminal and death is likely to happen within 12 months.
  • Payout could cover financial outgoings to reduce stress
  • Payout could pay for end-of-life care
  • Payout could pay for a family trip or other end-of-life wishes
  • There will be no payment on death so there may be less money left for the purposes that the life insurance was initially bought
  • Your consultant may not be able to confirm life expectancy to make a claim
Critical illness insurance Pays the insured amount as a lump sum of money if you are diagnosed with cancer that meets the definition of a claim. Can also pay a partial amount of the total insured amount for less serious cancers
  • The money can be used to fund private treatment if you do not have health insurance
  • You may be able to reduce debts such as your mortgage allowing you time to recover
  • The money could pay for any adaptations within your home or to your vehicle


  • Not all cancers are covered and a partial payment for a less serious type of cancer may fall short of what you need.
Income protection Pays a regular income whilst the insured person is unable to do their normal occupation
  • A regular income will pay for new expenses as well as covering your existing outgoings
  • You can claim multiple times providing you with peace of mind that the cover won't run out
  • The claim is not subject to the specific nature of your diagnosis - only your inability to work
  • Does not provide a lump sum so it may not be appropriate in funding larger costs
Cancer essentials insurance Pays a £5,000 lump sum upon diagnosis of cancer. Provides access to £100,000 worth of cancer drugs if they are not available through the NHS and the support of a specialist nurse.
  • The money can help with immediate expenses or loss of income
  • Access to drugs not available through the NHS
  • Practical and emotional support from a dedicated nurse
  • £5,000 cash sum may not be enough for your needs
  • You may not require the drugs that are not available through the NHS



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