Can I get life insurance if I’ve had cancer?

6 min Read Published: 10 Dec 2020

Can i get life insurance if i've had cancer?There are many different types of cancer so it is often difficult to understand whether you can get life insurance if you've had cancer. The answer really lies in what type of cancer you have had, the date you were diagnosed and whether you are in complete remission.

So the simplified answer is yes, you can get life insurance if you have had cancer. A life insurance company will want to ask a number of additional questions in order to find out as much as possible about the condition, as well as writing to your doctor. How you answer those extra questions and what additional information is supplied from your GP will depend on whether you will get accepted for life insurance or not. If you are thinking of applying for life insurance and have had cancer, make sure you read this article in full before you make an application as it is likely that you will be able to save both time and money.

In this article, we explain everything you need to know about life insurance and cancer, including the questions the insurance companies will ask you, which insurance companies are likely to offer the best cover, when a life insurance company may not be able to offer you life cover and also the cheapest way to apply for life insurance.

If you simply want to know the cheapest way to buy life cover, jump to 'Which is the best life insurance company if I've had cancer?'

What questions will a life insurance company ask about my cancer?

Cancer is a condition where cells can grow and reproduce uncontrollably in many parts of the body so the additional questions an insurance company will ask will often depend on the location and severity of the cancer you have had.

Life insurance providers will ask at least some or all of the following questions relating to your cancer:

  • What type of cancer have you had and where was it located?
  • When was it diagnosed?
  • Was the cancer non-malignant; if not, what was the staging or grading?
  • Have you received treatment?
  • Has the cancer been surgically removed?
  • Has the cancer re-occurred?
  • Did the cancer spread to other parts of the body?
  • Are you in complete remission?

As you can see, there are a lot of questions you will be required to answer and answering these questions may prompt additional questions. An insurance company needs to understand the risk that you pose, so while it may feel intrusive, it is necessary to give them as much information as possible.

This is where speaking to an independent life insurance specialist* is key as they will be able to ask all of the relevant questions from the outset. By giving all of the relevant medical information to an independent specialist, you can ensure that you only have to answer the questions once. The specialist will then recommend that you apply to the insurance company that is most likely to accept you at the cheapest possible price. We explain in more detail later in this article as to why you should always use a specialist life insurance broker and why you should never rely solely on an online calculator or comparison site.

If you have had cancer in the past and struggled to get life insurance, you may want to consider over 50s life insurance (so long as you are over 50 of course) Check out our article 'Which is the best over 50s life insurance?'

How does cancer impact life insurance premiums?

If you have suffered a form of cancer in the past then there are four possible outcomes and they are as follows:

  • accepted with no increase applied to your premiums
  • accepted with an increase applied to your premiums (referred to as a rating)
  • application postponed
  • application declined

We have given examples in our table below which could lead to three of the four possible outcomes. The table gives an example of how the additional questions can impact the final decision made by an insurance company. One of the decisions not covered in our table below is a rating (an increase applied to the original premium) as ratings are applied on a case by case basis. Any rating will depend on the type and severity of cancer and will be different depending on which insurance company you speak to.

We would always recommend speaking to an independent specialist* if you have suffered any form of cancer as they will be able to use their wealth of experience and knowledge to ensure that you apply to the insurance company that has the best chance of accepting your application and at the lowest possible premium.

Based on a 35-year-old non-smoker applying for £200,000 level term assurance

Cancer Type Skin Cancer (Basal cell carcinoma) Breast Cancer Bowel Cancer
Did it spread? No No Yes
Complete remission? Yes No No
Date of diagnosis 2 years ago 6 months ago 2 years ago
Any o/s investigations No Yes No
Has it re-ocurred? No No Yes
Disappear or Treatment / Surgically removed? Surgically removed Treatment. Ongoing Surgically removed plus treatment
Staging, Grading or Non-Malignant Non-malignant Stage 1 Stage IIIB
Fully recovered? Yes No Yes
Decision No increase to premiums Postpone Declined
Premium £11.70 N/A N/A

Can I get life insurance if I have previously been declined for cancer?

Yes, it is possible to get life insurance if you have previously been declined life insurance, however, it will depend on a number of factors and you should be prepared to pay a much higher premium as a result. Being declined for having previously suffered from cancer does not automatically mean you will be declined by every life insurance company. An insurance company will always underwrite your application according to its own unique set of underwriting criteria and life insurance is a competitive market and so each application will be underwritten on its own merit. That said, every life insurance application will ask if you have previously been declined cover elsewhere and so any future insurer will likely be on high alert.

The key is knowing which is the best insurer to approach based on your own unique circumstances and this can be carried out on your behalf by an independent specialist. We have personally vetted the services of a specialist independent broker that is an expert at arranging life insurance for those that have previously suffered cancer. We go into more detail about how to use an independent specialist to apply for life insurance below.

Which is the best life insurance company if I have previously suffered from cancer?

Every life insurance company has a team of underwriters and each team of underwriters work to a different set of guidelines. Cancer is one of the trickier conditions to predict however as there is such a broad range of cancer types. There are additional factors to consider such as the severity, the type of treatment received and the age at which you were diagnosed. It requires extensive knowledge in order to understand which insurer is the best fit and is likely to accept you with the lowest possible increase to your monthly premiums, a job that an independent specialist* can do for you for free.

The issue with comparison sites and online calculators is that they are unable to fully understand the complexity of conditions such as cancer and so you end up with a generic quote. If you use a comparison site you will likely end up applying through an insurance company that will either decline your application or at the very least, increase the premiums to a point where they are not affordable.

We have personally vetted the services of one of the UK's leading insurance broker's* that specialises in finding the best possible life insurance policy for those that have suffered cancer. An independent specialist is not tied to any single life insurance company and so will provide you with the best possible cover, based on the likely outcome (having taken all of your medical information into consideration). They will even be able to chase the insurer on your behalf, as well as help to put your policy into trust (meaning any payout is paid directly to your beneficiaries without the need for inheritance tax).

To speak to an adviser, with no obligation to take things further, simply complete the form via the above link. The firm employs strong ethics and will only ever offer a policy if it is the best policy to suit your personal needs.


If a link has an * beside it this means that it is an affiliated link. If you go via the link, Money to the Masses may receive a small fee which helps keep Money to the Masses free to use. This link can be used if you do not wish to help Money to the Masses and do not wish to qualify for the cashback referred to in the article