1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. – American Cancer Society
Few things put life insurance top-of-mind more than a health scare – especially a cancer diagnosis. Prostate cancer, in particular, is incredibly common and men often look to purchase coverage after a diagnosis.
The good news – life insurance is bought all the time after prostate cancer.
We will cover everything you need to know about prostate cancer and life insurance, including seven important questions you will need to be prepared to answer.
Table Of Contents
Cancer found in the cells of the prostate, a walnut-shaped gland found only in men.
Can I Still Buy Life Insurance?
More times than not, men can secure life insurance after prostate cancer treatment.
In fact, because prostate cancer is often highly-treatable, it’s common to be able to qualify for the two popular types of life insurance:
Will I Pay A Surcharge?
Depending on your specific diagnosis and how much time has passed since your treatment, you may qualify for “Standard” pricing. This means you would pay the regular premium rates for your life insurance policy.
However, sometimes your policy will be “Rated”. Rated policies are typical if your prostate cancer was more advanced. Even so, there are still affordable life insurance policy options.
What If My Prostate Cancer Was Advanced?
There are still life insurance options for someone with advanced prostate cancer.
Further, while most types of policies require you to have finished treatment, there are still coverage options if you are undergoing treatment and are anxious to secure some financial protection.
For advanced prostate cancer or prostate cancer that is actively being treated, you will want to consider a Guaranteed Issue life insurance policy.
Guaranteed Issue (GI) is typically a form of permanent life insurance with modest face amounts and zero underwriting. Speak to an independent agent to verify this type of policy makes sense for you.
The job of a life insurance underwriter is to evaluate the amount of risk an applicant poses.
Specific to prostate cancer, there are seven important questions an underwriter will ask you to determine what type of life insurance policy you qualify for.
Your odds of life insurance approval are increased when you accurately answer the questions up-front.
In addition to general underwriting questions, plan to answer seven specific questions pertaining to your prostate cancer.
1. When were you diagnosed and what was your age?
Most men with prostate cancer are older than 65 years and do not die from the disease. – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
There a two things underwriters will want to clarify with this question.
First, they will want to understand how long ago you were diagnosed. Typically, the longer it has been since your diagnosis, the better. Why? A more recent diagnosis presents more risk because you may still be in treatment, or your remission status could be fairly new.
Second, your age at the time of diagnosis matters. Underwriters look at a diagnosis after the age of 50 more favorably. Why? Statistics show that prostate cancer occurring under age 50 tends to be more aggressive and consequently higher-risk. Additionally, the age of onset matters because the younger you are, there is simply more time for a recurrence.
While each life insurance carrier uses their own in-house underwriting process (and depending on your specific prostate cancer diagnosis), you can generally expect the following wait times for traditional life insurance approval:
- Under age 50 – wait at least 5 years
- After age 50 – wait 1 year or less (could be almost immediately)
Bottom line – If you were older than age 50 at the time of diagnosis, it will likely be easier to purchase a life insurance policy. Additionally, it is often easier to underwrite an applicant whose prostate cancer was treated at least a year ago.
2. What was your specific prostate cancer diagnosis?
A number of factors are evaluated to determine the grade and stage of prostate cancer.
Your pathology report likely included the following:
- How many biopsy samples contained cancerous cells
- The percentage of cells that were cancerous
- What area of your prostate contains cancer (left, right or bilateral)
Base on your pathologist’s summary, a specific grade is provided.
Similar to other cancers, a lower grade for prostate cancer typically means a higher likelihood of a positive outcome:
- Grade 1 = tissue looks very similar to normal prostate cells
- Grade 2 – 4 = varying degrees appearance of cancerous prostate cells
- Grade 5 = cancer appears very abnormal
After your prostate cancer was diagnosed, you were assigned a particular stage:
- Stage I – cancerous cells are confined to the prostate; highly treatable
- Stage II – cancerous cells are confined to the prostate, although cells may be more aggressive
- Stage III – cancerous cells may have spread beyond the prostate
- Stage IV – cancerous cells have almost always spread beyond the prostate, possibly to lymph nodes, other organs, or both
Bottom line – Plan to provide your diagnosis because it helps the life insurance company understand how much risk you pose based on how advanced your prostate cancer was.
3. What were your PSA levels before, during and after treatment?
Your prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, levels are an important factor in determining your prostate cancer risk.
The higher your PSA, the more difficult it will be to purchase traditional term or whole life insurance.
Normal PSA levels include:
- Age 0 – 49: 2.5 ng/ml or less
- Age 50 – 59: 3.5 ng/ml or less
- Age 60 – 69: 4.5 ng/ml or less
- Age 70+: 6.5 ng/ml or less
However, after cancer treatment, ideal PSA levels will often look different. Further, PSA levels will vary depending on the type of treatment you received.
Once you have successfully completed treatment, your physician will likely establish a baseline PSA for you that will continually be monitored.
Some medical groups have proposed that if the PSA rises more than 2 ng/mL above the lowest level it reached, further treatment should be considered. – American Cancer Society
In other words, prepare to communicate the range of your PSA levels at different points: at diagnosis, while you were undergoing treatment, and at present.
4. What was your Gleason score?
Specific to prostate cancer, the Gleason scoring system was created as a means to categorize the complexities of cancerous prostate cells.
Named after its founder in the 1960s, Dr. Donald Gleason discovered that there are five definitive patterns of cancerous prostate cells.
Those cells closest to 1 are considered to be “low-grade” tumor cells and tend to look similar to normal cells. Cells closest to 5 are considered “high-grade” and have mutated so much that they barely resemble normal cells. – Prostate Cancer Foundation
Gleason scores range from 2 – 10. Typically, a life insurance company will want to see your Gleason score at 6 or lower. However, a higher score doesn’t necessarily prevent you from securing coverage.
If your Gleason score was 7 or higher, it’s possible (depending on the type of policy you apply for) to still secure coverage. However, until at least 5 years have passed since your remission, your premiums often include a surcharge.
5. What type of treatment did you receive?
A myriad of treatment options exist for prostate cancer. Your personal preferences, along with the grade and stage of your prostate cancer, determine the best fit for you.
Prostate cancer treatments include:
- Active Surveillance
- Hormone Therapy
- Vaccine Treatment
Let’s consider a few scenarios as examples. Note – below are examples only and your specific experience will need to be evaluated by underwriters.
- Active Surveillance – also called “watch and wait”, underwriters typically do not view this approach as favorably as others. Especially if you were younger than 50 at diagnosis, you may need to consider Guaranteed Issue life insurance. However, if you were older than age 60 at diagnosis, and under active surveillance, an independent agent may be able to help you find a traditional policy.
- Surgery – often viewed favorably by underwriters. In fact, if you were diagnosed with a low stage and grade of prostate cancer, and underwent surgery to fully remove the cancer, you may qualify for life insurance almost immediately after. PSA levels must be very low (less than .02 ng/ml).
- Radiation – underwriters will typically want to see a 12 month period of remission prior to life insurance approval for traditional coverage.
6. When was your last treatment?
Remember, underwriters are in the business of evaluating risk.
Your specific treatment type and completion date will affect your application.
Mark your calendar for your last day of treatment because you’ll need to communicate that date.
Keep in mind, your specific experience determines the amount of time that needs to pass before you qualify for traditional coverage:
- Age of diagnosis
- Gleason score
- PSA levels
- Type of treatment
Depending on your diagnosis and treatments, you may need to be in remission anywhere from days, up to many years.
7. Have you experienced a recurrence and do you have other health conditions?
In order to qualify for term or whole life insurance, you will need to be in remission (sometimes for many years, other times for merely days).
Additionally, you will be asked about whether you have been diagnosed with other health conditions. For example, there are factors that increase your prostate cancer risk.
For some, especially after going through a host of medical procedures, another needle or nurse is just something they are not interested in.
Enter no physical exam life insurance. Simply put, no exam (also referred to as non-med) is life insurance issued without the applicant participating in a physical exam.
Non-med policies exist for term life insurance, whole life insurance, and guaranteed issue life insurance.
Prosate cancer survivors regularly qualify.
Familiarize yourself with the best no exam life insurance companies before making a purchase.
Prostate cancer patients and survivors need to do two things in order to find the best life insurance policy they qualify for.
- Work with an independent agent. You will want access to multiple carriers to receive multiple quotes. Each company views prostate cancer a little differently and your premium payments could be drastically lower by finding the right carrier to apply with. Independent agents can access the top carriers and have your best interest at heart.
- Be ready to communicate the specifics of your prostate cancer. By clearly communicating to the underwriter your experience with prostate cancer, you will have the best odds of securing a life insurance policy. Be honest and forthright.
To get started, simply get your free quote.