Navigating insurance hurdles after a cancer diagnosis

Modern medical advances have made it possible for more and more people to beat cancer, but cancer survivors are still at a higher risk of developing cancer again or having complications caused by their treatment. This makes it more difficult for people who have lived through the disease to get insurance cover. That’s why it is important to find the right insurer.

With the focus on breast cancer awareness this month, Hollard Life looks at what you can expect if you apply for critical illness, life or disability cover after a cancer diagnosis.

“It’s essential when applying for insurance after a cancer diagnosis that you deal with a broad-minded insurer that will carefully examine your unique conditions and follow-up healthcare to secure the best possible insurance cover for you,” says Hayley Taylor, managing underwriter at Hollard Life.

Hayley adds that getting to grips with the implications of cancer for insurance is often an emotional and challenging conversation to have with your financial advisor. But given the fact that cancer is by far the leading cause of critical illness and disability insurance claims, it’s an important conversation to have.

What cover can you expect?

Whether you can get cover, how much you can get and how much you’ll pay for it depends on several factors including how long you’ve been cancer-free, the type of cancer you had and the date of your last treatment.

For example, certain types of skin cancers may have no effect on your insurance at all. More serious cases could however lead to one of the following:

You may have a ‘loading’ applied to your cover. This means that you’ll pay more for your insurance than the average person. When it comes to life cover, if you’ve been in remission for 10 years or more, you probably won’t have to pay a loading at all.
The insurer may apply an ‘exclusion’. This means that they’ll tell you upfront that you won’t be able to claim for certain conditions. If you’re applying for critical illness cover, it’s likely that you’ll have a cancer exclusion. Disability cover may also include a depression exclusion because this can often be a side effect of cancer treatment.
You might get cover but with a waiting period. This means that you’ll have to wait a certain amount of time before you’re allowed to claim.
The worst case scenario is that your application for cover could be declined completely.
“We often get asked why it isn’t possible to exclude only the specific cancer that a person has had, rather than applying a broad cancer exclusion,” Hayley says. “In most instances this just isn’t possible because there’s such a high risk of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body and the increased risk of developing another form of cancer as a result of chemotherapy treatment.”

Although it can be difficult to get cover after cancer, each person should be assessed on their own unique circumstances. Every cancer survivor is different and there are lots of variables that need to be considered.

“Dealing with an insurer that specialises in extraordinary cases is key to getting the best insurance cover and a professional financial advisor is the best person to help you navigate this crucial decision,” she says.

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