Life Insurance After Breast Cancer

Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among American women. I personally know women that have been affected, and if you’re reading this blog post you may have been personally affected or know someone that has. The good news is that survival rates for breast cancer are increasing, and there are about 3 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. In this blog post I’ll discuss options for life insurance after breast cancer, what questions you should be prepared to answer to get an accurate cost, and explain how life insurance companies price life insurance post breast cancer. If you would like to get a quote specifically based on your situation, just fill out the form right below this paragraph. Otherwise keep reading for life insurance after breast cancer.

Life Insurance After Breast Cancer - Understanding Key Terms

Life insurance after breast cancer

 Before we get into options for coverage, I’d like to introduce a couple of terms that will give you a better understanding of how life insurance companies may price insurance following cancer.

Flat Extra

A flat extra is an insurance term which essentially means “an additional fee”. Insurance companies use a flat extra in situations where they want to charge an additional fee on top of the regular premium. Many times these flat extra charges are limited to a set amount of years. For example, if you had low grade breast cancer and just finished treatment within the last few months you can potentially get approved for coverage. A Life insurance company may charge you a “flat extra” fee for the first 5 years of the policy. Since you present more risk to the insurance company right after treatment,(as opposed to 3 or 4 years later without additional complications) the flat extra allows the insurance company to take on that risk by charging you a fee for a certain period of time. Think of a ‘flat extra’ as a surcharge that can be added on to a policy.


Another insurance term you will find when dealing in high risk life insurance is “postponement”. Life insurance companies have underwriting guidelines based on your health. For example if you have had stage 2 or 3 cancer, a life insurance company might “postpone” coverage for a certain length of time following successful treatment. For example, if you have had stage 2 cancer, it would not be uncommon for a life insurance company to postpone coverage for a minimum of 5 years following treatment. In these cases you would need to pursue a graded death benefit policy, which I’ll cover later in this blog post.

Life Insurance Post Cancer - Questions

 To figure out what your options are following successful treatment of breast cancer, here are questions we will ask you, so that we can provide you with accurate information regarding your options: 

  • What was the age of diagnosis, and when did treatment end?
  • What was the specific type of cancer?
  • What was the grade, and stage of cancer? - The post-pathology report would have this information.
  • What was the treatment? Lumpectomy? Mastectomy? Chemo? Radiation?
  • Was there lymph node or metastasis involvement?    
  • What was the size of the tumor?

Options Based on Stage of Cancer

If you have had stage 0 or stage 1 cancer, there is a good chance you can qualify for coverage immediately following successful treatment. In these cases you will likely pay a “flat extra” if your treatment was within the last 3-5 years.

 If your cancer was stage 2, 3, or 4, there will likely be a postponement period of anywhere between 5-10 years following treatment before you can qualify for a traditional life insurance policy. In these cases, you may want to consider a graded death benefit policy, which I’ll discuss now.

Graded Death Benefit Life Insurance

 If after evaluating your specific situation we come to the conculsion that you can’t get a traditional life insurance policy, you may want to consider a graded death benefit policy. Graded death benefit life insurance policies have a waiting period of 2-3 years from the time of purchase, before 100% of the death benefit is in effect. Typically in the first few years of coverage your death benefit will be a return of all premiums paid plus additional interest. Following the initial period, 100% of the death benefit goes into affect. 

Some Tips 

Whether you already have a life insurance policy post breast cancer or looking to get a life insurance policy it is important to consider a few things.   Life insurance tips

By working with an independent life insurance agency, such as ours, you will have the best chances of getting a policy at the best rates. We will evaluate your situation and recommend the life insurance company that will offer you the best coverage at the best price. We are able to do that since we represent over 30 life insurance companies.

We will also help evaluate your policy after you get it. Meaning - it’s possible that after having your policy for a year or two, you will be able to get a better rate by reapplying with the same carrier, or another insurance company. The reason for this is that the more time has passed since treatment of your cancer, the better the offer will be in terms of price. By evaluating your policy on a yearly basis, you may be able to save money or get better coverage for the same money.