Lung Cancer And Life Insurance [7 Questions You Will Be Asked]

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in men and women describes the American Cancer Society.

As with any serious medical diagnosis, lung cancer often makes you consider your loved ones and whether their financial future is secure.

Unsurprisingly, thinking of your mortality is a top motivator for buying a life insurance policy.

Can I buy life insurance if I’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer? YES.

The good news –  life insurance for cancer patients (and survivors) is available.

We’ll examine everything you need to know about buying a life insurance policy after a lung cancer diagnosis, including the 7 important questions you will be asked by underwriters.

Table Of Contents

  1. Overview
  2. Lung Cancer Underwriting
  3. No Physical Exam
  4. How To Apply

Lung Cancer And Life Insurance


Cancer originating in the cells of one or both lungs.

Will I be Able To Buy Life Insurance After A Lung Cancer Diagnosis?


Your individual experience with lung cancer will determine the type of life insurance policy you qualify for.

Generally speaking, early stage lung cancer survivors will often qualify for traditional life insurance (after a certain amount of time has passed):

While advanced stage lung cancer patients will likely need to consider purchasing a policy with a modest face amount:

We’ll dive into the specifics – so you can understand what underwriters will want to know about your cancer – to help you determine the type of life insurance policy that makes sense for you.

Lung Cancer Questions Asked By Life Insurance Underwriters

Before apply for a life insurance policy, you will want to be prepared for underwriting.

It’s the job of an underwriter to evaluate the amount of risk an applicant poses. While that sounds pretty impersonal, we want to provide you with a heads up on everything you will be asked about your lung cancer.

Note – You will want to be forthright during the application process. Answer all questions honestly. Any discrepancies can negatively affect your application.

For a traditional life insurance policy, plan to answer the following questions:

lung cancer
Subject to change.

1. What was the date of your lung cancer diagnosis? How old were you?

Date of diagnosis?

Note the date of your diagnosis. Almost always, the more time that has passed since you were first diagnosed, the better. Why? Simply put, you have a higher chance of survival if a significant amount of time (years) has passed.

Underwriters usually want to see 3 years pass since your cancer diagnosis – at a minimum.

How old were you?

Your age at diagnosis matters. Carriers typically view a diagnosis after the age of 40 favorably. Why? If you were older than 40 at diagnosis, statistically-speaking, you have less of a chance of your cancer returning.

2. What was the type and stage of your lung cancer?

The type, and especially the stage of your lung cancer, is an important underwriting question. Specifically, cancer staging is imperative in determining the kind of life insurance you qualify for.

Let’s quickly cover the types.

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)

By far, the most common form and accounts for approximately 85% of all lung cancer cases. NSCLC includes squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.

Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)

Also referred to as oat cell cancer, SCLC accounts for about 10 – 15% of all lung cancers. They often spread quickly.

Lung Carcinoid Tumors

Less than 5% of lung cancers are carcinoid tumors. They usually grow slowly.

Pertaining to stages, while each carrier is different, you can general expect the following.

Stage 0

Best case scenario. Also referred to as “in situ”. Cancer cells are confined to lung and are not found in deep lung tissues.

Stage 1

Cancer cells are confined to the lung. They are not found in lymph nodes.

Stage 2

Cancer may have spread to surrounding lymph nodes.

Stage 3

Cancer can be found in lymph nodes and middle of chest.

Stage 4

Considered the most advanced stage. Cancer has spread to distant parts of your body, such as your brain or liver.

Underwriting Decisions Based On Cancer Stage

Underwriting outcomes rely heavily on the type and stage of your lung cancer. Ideally, if your cancer was caught at an early stage (like stage 0, 1, sometimes 2), you may qualify for a traditional policy after about 3 – 5 years.

On the other hand, if your cancer was advanced (stage 3 or 4), you will need to look at guaranteed issue life insurance (GI). While face amounts are modest, GI policies are a guaranteed yes and ask zero health questions.

3. What part of your lung was cancer found?

You will be asked about the location(s) in your lungs in which cancer was found:

  • Trachea
  • Bronchi
  • Right lung upper lobe
  • Right lung middle lobe
  • Right lung lower lobe
  • Left lung upper lobe
  • Left lung lower lobe

4. What types of treatment did you receive?

Lung cancer typically includes a multifaceted approach.

Common medical treatments include (Source – Mayo Clinic):

  1. Surgery – wedge resection, segmental resection, lobectomy, pneumonectomy
  2. Radiation – to kill cancer cells or alleviate pain
  3. Chemotherapy – drugs, via an iv or orally, to kill cancer cells
  4. Radiosurgery – intense radiation treatment from multiple angles
  5. Drug therapy – target specific aspects of cancerous cells
  6. Immunotherapy – harnessing your immune system to fight cancer

Underwriters want to understand the type of treatment you received, how successful they were, and whether you experienced health complications as a result of your treatment.

5. When was your last treatment?

Note the last day you received treatment for your lung cancer, or if you are still undergoing treatment.

Why? The amount of time that has passed since treatment affects the type of policy you qualify for. For example, if you were diagnosed at an early stage, it’s possible to purchase a traditional policy after a certain number of years (e.g. 3 – 5 years):

On the other hand, if you are still undergoing treatment, or if you have recently finished, you will need to purchase a guaranteed issue policy.

6. Are you going to follow-up appointments?

Underwriters like to see applicants proactively monitoring their health. Cancer survivors should regularly see their physician for follow-up.

Be sure to communicate whether or not you are attending regular doctor’s appointments.

7. Are you in remission? How is your overall health?

Remember, for traditional life insurance, you will need to be in remission.

On the other hand, if you are currently a cancer patient, you will need to look at a guaranteed policy with no health questions.

Additionally, plan to communicate your overall health status. Certain factors increase your risk for lung cancer:

No Exam Life Insurance For Lung Cancer

No exam life insurance is available to cancer survivors and cancer patients.


Generally, you will need to be able to verify remission for a number of years before buying traditional life insurance.

Keep in mind, every no physical life insurance company is different in how they view and underwrite a history of cancer. Evaluate the top companies before applying. An independent agent can help you with the process.


Cancer patients buy life insurance all the the time. However, you are limited to guaranteed issue (GI) until the required amount of time has passed.

Apply For Life Insurance

Coverage is available to those you have a history of lung cancer. We recommend two important steps so you can find the best policy you qualify for:

Document your medical history

Be ready to answer underwriting questions about your cancer so that your application can be processed quickly and efficiently.

Work with an independent agent

You will want access to multiple quotes from the top carriers. Cancer is viewed differently by specific carriers and you will want the ability to compare and contrast.

Simply fill out our free instant quote to get started.