Plan for Tomorrow | Will skin cancer prevent me from getting life insurance?
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Will skin cancer prevent me from getting life insurance?

Sep 26, 2023, 2:32:18 PM | Reading Time: 4 minutes

Summertime brings warm, sunny days where you’re likely spending time outdoors. While soaking up a little vitamin D can be beneficial, it’s essential to prioritize your skin health and protect yourself from too much sun. UV Safety Awareness Month occurs every July and reminds us to protect our skin and eyes from excessive exposure to UV rays. Skin cancer is the most common cancer1,2 in the U.S.; around one in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime.3 If you have skin cancer or have in the past and wonder if you can still get life insurance coverage, here’s what to keep in mind.

Getting life insurance if you have skin cancer

Thankfully, several types of skin cancer are relatively mild and treatable, especially if caught early. Even if you’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer, you may still be able to purchase life insurance. “There are several factors that underwriters typically use to determine if an applicant is eligible for life insurance coverage,” explains Chris Regione, Associate Vice President & Chief Underwriter Sammons Financial Group. “Along with your age, overall health, and other medical conditions, if you currently have skin cancer or experienced it in the past, we’ll look at the kind of cancer, the stage and severity of the disease, and the treatment you’re receiving to help determine your risk class.”

Will skin cancer prevent me from getting life insurance?

Any time you’re exploring life insurance protection, it’s important to research insurers, review your options, and find coverage that works best for you and your family. Insurance companies may have different guidelines for determining the policy and rate you are eligible for, so take time to find an insurer that best meets your needs. There may be a waiting period after cancer treatment before you can apply for coverage. Life insurance options may include:

Term life insurance

Can provide coverage for a certain period. If you currently have skin cancer or have in the past, you may still be eligible for coverage, but your rates could be affected.

Permanent life insurance

Depending on the kind of skin cancer, treatment options, and prognosis, you could be eligible for a whole life or universal life insurance policy. Like term life insurance, your rates could be affected.

Guaranteed issue life insurance

Applying for coverage often does not require a medical exam or health questions, but premiums could be higher

Simplified issue life insurance

Coverage amounts may be lower than other policies but commonly do not require a medical exam. You will likely have to answer health questions on the application.

Applying for coverage after being diagnosed with skin cancer

Suppose you’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer and are curious about your life insurance options. In that case, a good first step can be meeting with a life insurance agent. Together, you can explore your options, discuss any concerns, and receive advice on how life insurance can fit into your financial strategy. You can also get answers to essential questions, like:

  • How much does life insurance cost with my pre-existing condition?
  • Can an existing policy be canceled if I’m subsequently diagnosed with cancer or another pre-existing condition?
  • What happens if the condition gets worse or is cured?

When applying for coverage, it’s essential to answer any questions openly and include accurate information about any pre-existing health conditions. “While it can be tempting to withhold information about your medical history when applying for coverage, you’ll want to be upfront and honest about any health conditions,” says Regione. “If you do not disclose certain health details, you can potentially be penalized later on, or it can affect the death benefit your beneficiaries will receive.” While having skin cancer may reduce some of your life insurance options, you’ll likely be able to find a policy that can work for you and allow you to put valuable protection in place for your loved ones.

Common application process if you have skin cancer

If you have a pre-existing condition while applying for coverage, the insurance company or your life insurance agent may ask you specific questions about your health. These questions may include:

  • What type of skin cancer do you have?
  • When were you diagnosed with skin cancer?
  • What treatment did you receive? Was the skin cancer removed?
  • Did the cancer spread?
  • Have you had multiple occurrences?
  • Do you visit your doctor or dermatologist regularly?

When you apply for coverage, the insurance company will likely request your medical records to confirm your diagnosis and treatment history. You’ll want to prepare this information and get your medical records ready to help smooth the underwriting process.

Ways to prevent skin cancer

Practicing proper sun safety and protecting your skin from UV rays can go a long way in minimizing your chances of developing skin cancer. To support your skin health and avoid short- or long-term damage to your skin:

  • Avoid lengthy sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Wear sunscreen daily and re-apply every two hours
  • Cover up with long sleeves, wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses
  • Skip tanning beds
  • Get a yearly physical exam by a doctor or dermatologist
  • Periodically check skin for abnormal moles or irregularities

Taking good care of your skin and preventing sun damage can significantly impact your overall health. Taking preventative precautions now can minimize long-term sun damage and help lower your risk of developing skin cancer in the future.

1 Guy GP, Thomas CC, Thompson T, Watson M, Massetti GM, Richardson LC. Vital signs: Melanoma incidence and mortality trends and projections—United States, 1982–2030. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015;64(21):591-596.

2 Guy GP, Machlin S, Ekwueme DU, Yabroff KR. Prevalence and costs of skin cancer treatment in the US, 2002–2006 and 2007–2011. Am J Prev Med. 2015;48:183–7.

3 Stern RS. Prevalence of a history of skin cancer in 2007: results of an incidence-based model. Arch Dermatol. 2010 Mar;146(3):279-82.