Life Insurance And Bladder Cancer [Your Complete Guide]

You CAN purchase life insurance after a bladder cancer diagnosis.

Not too many things make you think about buying a life insurance policy as much as a serious health scare.

The good newslife insurance for cancer patients and cancer survivors is readily available.

The not so good news – it will be more difficult to secure a policy after a cancer diagnosis.

Here, we will cover the exact steps you need to take to purchase a life insurance policy after bladder cancer.

Table Of Contents

  1. Overview
  2. Underwriting Questions
  3. No Exam Options
  4. Steps To Buy (there’s 2)

Life Insurance And Bladder Cancer Overview


Cancer originating in the cells of the bladder.

Urothelial Carcinoma (Transitional Cell)

Almost always, bladder cancer originates in the urothelial cells, lining the inside of the bladder, parts of the urinary tract and kidneys.

Chances are, your bladder cancer likely began in your urothelial cells.

Less Common Forms

  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma – only 1 – 2% of bladder cancers; tends to be invasive
  • Adenocarcinoma – just about 1% of bladder cancers; also tends to be invasive
  • Small Cell Carcinoma – less than 1% of bladder cancers; often grows quickly
  • Sarcoma – originates in the muscle cells of the bladder; highly uncommon

Can I Buy Life Insurance If I’ve Had Bladder Cancer?


Life insurance is available to bladder cancer patients, and even more options are available to bladder cancer survivors.

Depending on your specific diagnosis and treatment history, you may be able to purchase:

Will I Be Charged Extra?


Called a “flat extra” or Rated policy, life insurance carriers will sometimes surcharge policies based on the amount of risk an applicant poses.

Expect to pay a surcharge os somewhere between 25 – 200% for a Rated policy.

Applicants with a history of bladder cancer can qualify for Standard policies (regular pricing). However, in general, a history of cancer is viewed fairly seriously by carriers – and you may be charged extra.

What If I Had Advanced Bladder Cancer?

Muscle-invasive bladder cancer occurs when the cancer invades the bladder wall. This is considered advanced stage and represents 25 to 30 percent of diagnoses.

Johns Hopkins Medicine

If you were diagnosed with advanced bladder cancer (Stage 3 or especially, Stage 4), you will likely be limited to a guaranteed issue life insurance policy – for many years or possibly indefinitely.

If are battling or have beat advanced stage bladder cancer, here’s what you need to know about guaranteed issue (also referred to as guaranteed acceptance):

  • No health questions
  • No medical underwriting
  • Modest policy sizes (often caps at $25,000 – larger face amounts may be available)
  • Age restrictions (must between 40 – 80)

Underwriting Questions For Bladder Cancer

When you apply for a traditional policy (think: term or whole life), prepare to answer seven specific questions about your experience with bladder cancer.

Subject to change.

1. When were you diagnosed?

Generally speaking, the longer it has been since your diagnosis, the better. How so? Life insurance companies understand that your risk for a recurrence decreases with time.

On the other hand, a more recent diagnosis may mean you are currently receiving treatment or just recently went into remission. Your life insurance options are limited until at least 1 year has passed, and perhaps many years, depending on the cancer stage.

2. What was the type?

Odds are, you were diagnosed with Urothelial Carcinoma (Transitional Cell) cancer. Over 90% of bladder cancers in the United States are this type.

However, some other types exist as well. They tend to be more aggressive and invasive:

  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Small Cell Carcinoma
  • Sarcoma

Regardless of the type of bladder cancer you had, life insurance options exist for you.

3. What was the stage?

Cancer stage plays a crucial role in the type of policy you qualify for.

Stage 0 and Stage 1

Best case scenario.

In Stage 0, cancer is only found in the inning lining of the bladder. Stage 1 indicates that cancer is also found in the lamina propria.

Your cancer has not spread to the muscular layer of the bladder.

After your physician has documented that you are in remission, you will need to wait approximately 1 – 2 years before applying for a traditional policy.

Stage 2

Your bladder cancer has spread to the muscular layer of the bladder. However, cancer is not in tissue encompassing the bladder, nor has it spread to nearby lymph nodes.

While each applicant is unique, expect to wait for approximately 3 – 5 years after remission to be eligible for a traditional policy.

Stage 3

It becomes more difficult to secure a traditional policy with Stage 3 bladder cancer.

Because Stage 3 indicates that the cancer has spread to the muscular layer and surrounding tissue, there is more risk. Sometimes, cancer has spread to nearby reproductive organs.

Plan to wait at least 5 – 7 years, or longer, for a traditional policy. Some carriers will not approve an applicant with a history of Stage 3.

Stage 4

Late-stage bladder cancer means you will want to purchase guaranteed issue life.

Because the cancer has spread beyond the bladder, possibly to the abdominal wall or even into the lymph system, there is a higher level of risk to your health. Even if – let’s say – you beat bladder cancer 10 years ago.

Guaranteed issue (GI) is an excellent option for applicants who would otherwise not qualify for a policy. We recommend you evaluate the top-rated GI carriers:

  1. AIG Guaranteed Issue
  2. Gerber Guaranteed Issue
  3. Great Western Guaranteed Assurance

Remember, a GI policy issues almost instantly and does not require medical underwriting or even health questions.

4. What types of treatment did you receive?

Depending on your specific diagnosis, your oncologist likely recommended one or more of the following:

  • Surgery transurethral resection, radical cystectomy, partial cystectomy, urinary diversion
  • Radiation external therapy, internal therapy
  • Chemotherapysystemic, regional
  • Immunotherapy immune checkpoint inhibitor, bacillus Calmette-Guerin
  • Drugs – e.g. Imfinzi, Keytruda, Tecentriq, Valstar
  • Clinical trials – typically for patients not responding positively to traditional forms of treatment

Source: National Cancer Institute

Why do underwriters want to know about your treatment history?

In a word, risk.

Treatment is not without side effects. Some of the effects adversely affect your health – e.g. anemia, bleeding, edema, nerve issues, infection, urinary problems.

5. Are you attending follow-up appointments?

A history of cancer means that you should be regularly meeting with your physician to monitor your health.

Underwriters like to see that you are proactively caring for your health by scheduling doctor’s appointments as recommended.

On the other hand, if have not followed-up with your oncologist, it’s hard to have an understanding of your current health status.

6. Do you smoke?

Smoking causes about half of all bladder cancers in both men and women.

American Cancer Society

The biggest risk factor for bladder cancer is a history of smoking.

You will be asked about your tobacco use during the application process (for traditional life insurance, not guaranteed issue). Be honest.

While you won’t be declined for tobacco use, your premiums will likely be higher.

If you have quit, fantastic! Underwriters usually want to see applicants smoke-free for at least one year, sometimes longer, before a non-tobacco rate is offered.

7. What is your remission status? How is your health?

Are you in remission?

It’s important to note how long you have been in remission – if you are.

Carriers want to see anywhere from 1 year to over 7 years of remission before you can qualify for a traditional term or whole life policy.

And, if your bladder cancer was advanced-stage (3 and especially 4) you may not qualify for a traditional policy, even if it’s been over a decade since your remission.

If you are not in remission, cancer patients buy life insurance all the time. Keep in mind, though, you will need to buy a guaranteed issue policy.

How are you doing, health-wise?

You will need to communicate your overall health history, in addition to your experiences with bladder cancer.

For example, some factors increase your risk of developing bladder cancer. Be ready to communicate if you are:

No Exam Life Insurance For Bladder Cancer

No exam life insurance is purchased by cancer patients and cancer survivors all the time.

For some, there is just no desire to participate in a medical exam as a step to purchase life insurance.

Fortunately, there is an increasing number of highly-rated no physical life insurance companies.


Bladder cancer survivors may be eligible for a traditional life insurance policy, like term or whole life.

Some no exam carriers offer traditional coverage to survivors, however, there will be a waiting period.

Collaborate with an independent agent to see which type of policy can work for your health history.


Cancer patients will need to buy guaranteed issue (GI).

While GI policies should not be your first stop in shopping for life insurance, they can be a miracle for cancer patients.

Guaranteed issue life insurance defining characteristics include:

  • Almost instant approval
  • No health questions
  • No medical exam
  • Modest policy size
  • Graded death benefit
  • Age restrictions

Steps To Buy Life Insurance

You will want to do two things in order to find the best policy you qualify for after a bladder cancer diagnosis.

Go Independent

An independent agent can be your best friend, especially if your health history is not perfect.

Why? Independent agents have access to multiple carriers, each with their own unique underwriting system. By receiving multiple quotes, you can potentially save thousands of dollars over the life of your policy.

Always Be Prepared

In order to quickly and efficiently buy a life insurance policy, document your medical history.

Be ready to answer the seven underwriting questions pertaining to bladder cancer, and any other health or lifestyle risks you have.

That way, there is no delay in processing your application.

Simply fill out our free instant quote to get started.