You CAN buy life insurance after a lymphoma diagnosis.
Not too many things puts life insurance top-of-mind as much as a serious medical diagnosis, like cancer.
Lymphoma will not prevent you from purchasing life insurance. However, your application and policy options will be impacted.
The good news – cancer patients buy life insurance all the time. Cancer survivors do too.
The important news – there are seven important ways your lymphoma – either Non-Hodgkins’s or Hodgkin’s – can affect the type of policy you qualify for.
Here, you’ll find everything you need to know about buying life insurance after being diagnosed with lymphoma.
Table Of Contents
While both are forms of lymphoma, a form of cancer that targets your lymphatic system, Non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s have some key distinctions.
The type of lymphoma you were diagnosed with impacts how a life insurance underwriter will evaluate your application – primarily because there are different statistics and treatments associated with each.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is one of the most common cancers in the United States, accounting for about 4% of all cancers.– American Cancer Society
About 2.1% of men and women will be diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma during their lifetime, according to the National Cancer Institute.
A specific Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) diagnosis – and subsequent treatment plan – is dependent on a number of factors:
- Type of lymphocyte affected (B cells or T cells)
- The maturity of the cells
- Whether the lymphoma is indolent or aggressive (or somewhere in between)
Based on those factors, incredibly, there are more than 50 subtypes of NHL. (source: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute).
Unlike most cancers, rates of Hodgkin lymphoma are highest among teens and young adults (ages 15 to 39 years) and again among older adults (ages 75 years or older).– Centers For Disease Control and Prevention
Hodgkin’s lymphoma (HL) is not nearly as common as Non-Hodgkin’s. Your lifetime risk of developing HL is 0.2%, drastically lower than NHL.
Your exact diagnosis* and your overall health determine how your HL is treated:
- Classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin’s lymphom
*There are many subtypes of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and some are rare.
What This Means For Your Ability To Buy Life I
The complex nature of Non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s means that your specific diagnosis – and how successful the treatment plan was – directly affects the kind of policy you are able to purchase.
You WILL be able to buy coverage, it’s just a matter of the type that will be available to you.
Generally, if your cancer was diagnosed at an early stage, was successfully treated and you have been in remission for at least three years, you may be able to purchase traditional life insurance:
On the other hand, if you were diagnosed at an advanced stage, are currently still in treatment, or it has been less than three years since you entered remission, you will likely need to look at guaranteed issue life insurance.
If you apply for traditional life insurance (think – term or whole life), plan for the underwriter (that’s who evaluates applications for risk) to ask you about 7 important things:
1. When were you diagnosed with lymphoma?
This is an important question because it’s a primary factor in determining whether or not you qualify for traditional life insurance.
Underwriters prefer to see that it has been a number of years since your diagnosis. Why? The risk for recurrence decreases with time.
If you were recently diagnosed, it’s possible you are still in treatment or have in remission for a short amount to time. Ideally, you will want to be in remission for at least 3 years* (sometimes more) in order to have the ability to purchase a policy with a large face amount.
*Early stage Hodgkin’s lymphoma may have a shorter wait time for traditional life insurance.
Keep in mind that each life insurance carrier is different and wait times are approximate.
2. What type of lymphoma?
Non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s are distinctly different.
And, because underwriters are in the business of evaluating risk, they will look to the data and statistics related to your type of lymphoma.
- More common
- Typically diagnosed at a later stage than Hodgkin’s
- More difficult to classify and treat
- Less common
- Usually diagnosed at an earlier stage than Non-Hodgkin’s
- Highly treatable if detected early
3. What stage was your lymphoma?
Unsurprisingly, it’s easier to underwrite early stage cancer than it is late stage cancer.
The stage of your lymphoma plays a direct role in your ability to purchase traditional life insurance.
Best case scenario.
Cancer is found in one lymphatic area.
For Non-Hodgkin’s, expect to wait about 3 years before qualifying for traditional life insurance.
For Hodgkin’s, expect to wait about 1 year until you can apply.
Lymphoma is detected in two or more lymph node groups (above or below the diaphragm).
You will likely still qualify for traditional life insurance, but plan to wait somewhere between 3 – 10 years before you are eligible.
Stage 3 and Stage 4
In Stage 3, cancer is found in lymph node groups above and below the diaphragm.
Stage 4 lymphoma means cancer is found in at least one organ that is not part of the lymphatic system.
In all probability, you will need to buy a guaranteed issue policy (GI) if your cancer was diagnosed at Stages 3 or 4.
GI life insurance is an excellent option or those who would otherwise not qualify for coverage. Policies are modest in size, however, some life insurance can make all the difference for families facing hardship.
Note – Guarantee issue applications have no health questions.
4. What type(s) of treatment did you receive?
Unless you were diagnosed with indolent lymphoma, your oncologist likely prescribed one or more of the following:
- Radiation therapy
- Bone marrow transplant
- Drug therapy
- Clinical trial(s)
Underwriters want to understand your treatment history because it helps them understand how much risk you pose.
In particular, it’s common to experience both long-term and short-term effects from cancer treatment – inability to work, heart and lung problems, neuropathy,
5. What was the date of your last treatment?
Note the date of your last treatment if you are remission. Or, be ready to communicate your treatment schedule if you are actively receiving medical care.
When you received your last treatment is important to life insurance carriers because it’s one way they determine what type of coverage you can buy.
For traditional coverage, carriers typically want to see at least 3 years (for early stage Hodgkin’s it can be one year of wait time) before applying.
Important – Guaranteed issue is always available for purchase, regardless of your treatment timeline.
6. Are you visiting your doctor?
Attending doctor’s appointments regularly, whether you are in remission or in treatment, demonstrates responsibility. Underwriters like to see proactive care for your health, especially after a serious medical diagnosis.
7. Are you in remission? How is your health?
You must be able to demonstrate (via medical records) that you have been in remission for a certain number of years in order to purchase a traditional policy, like a 10-year term policy.
If you are not in remission, we recommend buying guaranteed issue. Remember, you can apply for traditional coverage once you qualify.
Additionally, plan to communicate how your overall health is doing. Certain factors can interfere with the success of your lymphoma treatment:
Those with a history of cancer buy life insurance with no physical required all the time.
Each carrier is different in their underwriting processes, however. Be careful to not apply with one particular company. Rather, evaluate the best no exam companies, and collaborate with an independent agent to find the best fit for you.
Lymphoma survivors may qualify for no exam traditional life insurance.
It will depend on the following:
- Stage and type of lymphoma
- How long you’ve been in remission
- Overall health
Current Hodgkin’s or Non-Hodgkin’s patients will only qualify for guaranteed issue life insurance.
Remember, some life insurance is better than zero life insurance.
With a history of lymphoma, or any serious medical condition for that matter, you need to do two things to prepare to purchase life insurance:
- Partner up – Collaborate with an independent life insurance agent (that’s us) to find the best policy you qualify for.
- You can access multiple quotes from multiple carriers – a must for someone with health complications.
- Be a record keeper – Have your medical records handy so that you can communicate your health history during the application process.
Begin by filling our your free quote.