Never assume that a history of cancer is a deal-breaker when it comes to life insurance.
That used to be true, which is why so many people make the assumption. But advances in medical technology and treatment methods have enabled many cancer survivors to lead full lives. Insurance companies are keenly aware of the shift. It is now possible to get life insurance with thyroid cancer, or at least a history of it.
That doesn’t mean that thyroid cancer, or any other type of cancer, is a non-issue when it comes to life insurance. But it does mean that you should never assume that you are ineligible for life insurance because of a previous bout with thyroid cancer.
What is Thyroid Cancer
The thyroid is an endocrine gland located in your neck. It manufactures hormones that regulate many of your body’s functions, including heart rate and metabolism. Thyroid cancer takes place when a tumor develops on this gland.
For 2017, there were nearly 57,000 cases of thyroid cancer, with slightly more than 2,000 deaths related to the illness. The disease is most prevalent in middle age and is much more common in women than it is in men.
There are actually several different types of thyroid cancer:
Papillary is the most common type of thyroid cancer and is most common between the ages of 20 and 40. The survival rate for this type of the disease is excellent.
Follicular is the next most common type of thyroid cancer. It can be either minimally invasive or widely invasive. The widely invasive version is usually more aggressive.
Medullary represents only a small percentage of all thyroid cancer incidences. In the early stages, it is highly curable.
Anaplastic has the highest mortality rate, but fortunately, it’s a quite rare form of the disease. This version will be the most problematic for life insurance purposes.
There are also various thyroid conditions that can be mistaken for thyroid cancer, but are actually something much more benign. For example, goiter causes the thyroid to enlarge, resulting in difficulty swallowing or breathing. Hyperthyroidism causes the thyroid gland to produce excess hormones that can result in rapid weight loss, insomnia or even high blood pressure.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, hypothyroidism causes the thyroid gland to not produce enough hormones. This can result in a slow heartbeat, fatigue, weight gain or even memory loss. There is also thyroiditis, which is an inflammation of the gland, and thyroid nodules, which are abnormal growths of thyroid tissue.
How Life Insurance Companies Consider Thyroid Cancer
Each insurance company will underwrite an applicant with a history of thyroid cancer in a somewhat different way. But generally speaking, all companies will look into the medical histories of both the applicant and the applicant’s family.
Underwriters don’t just look at whether or not you have had the disease in the past, but they also look very closely at the specifics. These can include:
- Your current age
- When the disease was first diagnosed
- The specific type of thyroid cancer
- The pathology of the disease
- Treatments received and when
- Any complications that resulted from the treatment itself
- The amount of time that has passed the last occurrence and treatment
- Any incidence of recurrence of the disease
- The incidence of thyroid cancer or other types of cancer in your family history
- The situation is being monitored with regular follow-up visits to the doctor
- That the nodule size is stable
The better the outcomes of any of the above factors, the greater the likelihood of approval, and the more favorable the risk rating your application will receive.
Despite a history of thyroid cancer, it is possible to get a preferred rating if you have been cancer free for at least 10 years following the last treatment. You can get a standard rating for the lowest grade papillary tumor after at least three years after treatment, or 5 to 6 years in the case of a moderate papillary tumor.
A history of an anaplastic tumor may result in your application being declined due to the higher incidence of mortality. (There may still be a life insurance option available – see the final section.)
Applying For Life Insurance With Thyroid Cancer
The first best step in applying for life insurance with thyroid cancer is to be completely truthful in completing the application. Insurance companies conduct deep research of every applicant’s medical records. Efforts to conceal or minimize your history with the disease could result in an adverse outcome. It may even cause underwriting to do an even deeper investigation.
Once again, never assume that a history of cancer automatically disqualifies you for life insurance. There are millions of cancer survivors and life insurance companies have become more accommodating to this group in recent years.
As is always the case anytime you have a history of a serious illness, it’s important that your overall health is excellent.
This is an area where you can be especially proactive. Eat a balanced diet and get plenty of exercise. Maintain proper body weight. Eliminate health-threatening conditions, such as smoking and excess alcohol consumption. If you have other chronic health conditions, such as hypertension or high cholesterol, be sure that you are properly managing them.
But also understand that since you have a history of a serious illness, the application process will take several weeks. The insurance company will need to do a full investigation of your medical history in order to make a determination. Be prepared to supply any additional documentation requested by the underwriter.
Work With an Insurance Broker if You Have a History of Thyroid Cancer
Applying for life insurance is more complicated with a serious illness. Beyond getting an application approved, it’s also important to get the most affordable policy possible.
A history of thyroid cancer will affect your life insurance application, particularly the premium. Under the most favorable circumstances, you will receive a rating of standard and sometimes preferred.
In most cases, you’ll be assigned what are known as table rates. These are premium rates for applicants who have higher risk factors, like thyroid cancer. There are a total of 10 table rates available for those applicants who have a less than a standard rating. This can result in wide variations in premiums.
Under the most unfavorable circumstances, you may have to look into a guaranteed issue life insurance policy. Death benefits are lower and premiums are higher. A medical exam and health-related questions aren’t required for this policy. If you haven’t met the time requirements following your last treatment, this can be a workable short-term solution.
But this is exactly why it’s best to work with a knowledgeable insurance broker.
Some insurance companies take a more favorable view of a history of thyroid cancer, and those are the companies that you need to apply to. An independent insurance broker will be your best ally in this process. He knows who those companies are and that will save you time and money in the application process.
Give us a call – we’re ready to help people like you, who may have a history of thyroid cancer or other serious illnesses. Put our knowledge to work for you so that you can get the best life insurance policy at the lowest possible premium.