Life insurance for cancer patients and survivors

8 minutes

Around one in two of us[1] could develop some form of cancer, many want peace of mind and a backup plan. Life insurance provided families and loved ones with an option when someone dear to them is either diagnosed with terminal cancer or passes away. A single payout can offer financial security for growing children, help partners finish paying the mortgage and be gifted to the ones that matter most. It gives you options just in case.

In 2023, we found that for our life insurance and critical illness cover (36%) of all life insurance payouts were because someone sadly passed away due to cancer. Likewise, around 59% of our critical illness insurance claims were paid after someone received a cancer diagnosis2. Life insurance and critical illness insurance is the safety net that so many families rely on.

The information on this page should not be considered as financial advice. If you are unsure what’s right for you, please make sure you speak to a Financial adviser.

1 Cancer Research UK, Cancer in the UK: overview 2024

Does life insurance cover cancer?

It’s important to note that life insurance will normally pay out your death benefit if you pass away while your policy is active. A claim should be paid out as long as the reasons for your death meet the insurer’s conditions and you’ve kept your premiums up to date.

Life insurance policies cover you if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, such as cancer and if you die within the policy term. Depending on your provider and the conditions of your policy, you could be paid once you receive a terminal illness diagnosis.

The terms could differ between insurance providers, but at LV= we’ll pay if your doctor believes you have less than 12 months to live.

Can you get life insurance if you have cancer?

If you have received a recent diagnosis of cancer, it’s not possible to get a new policy. However, you may be able to get a policy once your cancer is in remission. This also applies if you are under investigation for any form of cancer. If your investigation is complete, and you are told there is no sign of cancer, then at that point you will be able to reapply for life insurance.

While we fully understand that this could be a testing time for you and your loved ones, life insurance companies like LV= aren’t able to offer life insurance if you’re under investigation for any form of cancer.

Can you get life insurance if you’re terminally ill?

As you have received a terminal diagnosis, it means your life expectancy has been cut short. Therefore, life insurance will become incredibly expensive or too high-risk for insurers and you’re unlikely to get cover. This is why it’s important to get cover in place before you become ill.

Can you get life insurance if you’re in remission?

Of course, you can purchase life insurance if you’re in remission. Whilst it’s great news that you’ve kicked cancer, it always pays to be prepared. As you carry a higher risk, despite being in remission, you might find your premiums are higher than someone with no history of cancer. It’s important to provide all relevant information to your insurer, as with the right information the insurer and underwriter will be able to provide the most accurate premium and best cover option for you.

Does critical illness cover include cancer?

Yes, critical illness cover can include certain types of cancer. The cancers that are covered vary from provider to provider, and there might be certain conditions, such as type, severity and the treatment needed for a payout.

What cancers are covered under critical illness insurance?

As cancer is one of the most common reasons for claims, insurers provide a set list of cancers they’ll cover under critical illness insurance. In most cases, cancers need to be considered malignant. These often include leukaemia and sarcoma.

However, a malignant cancer diagnosis might not be enough to receive a payout. Your insurer might have set conditions where malignant cancers are concerned, such as the level of threat they pose and the seriousness.

What does LV= cover?

At LV=, we offer critical illness protection for 38 full payment medical conditions of which cancer is included. As a rule, we tend to cover cancers that are more advanced.

What types of cancer aren’t typically covered under critical illness?

As a general rule, many providers won’t pay for the following:

  • Cancer in situ (stage 0).
  • Cancers that aren’t invasive.
  • Certain types of skin cancer.
  • Early-stage cancers.
  • Most benign tumours

To find out what the requirements are, you’ll need to speak to your insurer either upon diagnosis or when you first take out a critical illness policy.

Types of life insurance available to cancer survivors in remission

If you’re looking for a life insurance policy, you should have several options available to you if you are in remission.

Level cover

When you take out a level cover life insurance policy, you’ll specify the total amount of protection you want. This is known as your death benefit. Your death benefit will normally be paid out if you kept up to date with your premium payments and if you pass away before your policy expires.

Level cover normally lasts between five and 50 years and can cover you from as little as £10,000 to as much as £1.5 million.

Decreasing cover

Decreasing cover reduces the amount of cover over time and is often taken out to cover long-term borrowing such as a capital and repayment mortgage. As the amount owed reduces overtime, the amount of cover needed reduces. If you were to pass away, your decreasing cover policy would pay out the remaining cover amount, which should be enough to pay off your mortgage.

Increasing cover

As another fixed-term policy, increasing life insurance policies allows you to determine a set amount you want to be protected against. Your death benefit will then increase over time. These types of policies are often used to combat inflation, ensuring that the death benefit aims to keep pace with the rising cost of living.

Whole of life

Unlike the above policies, whole of life has no set expiry date and simply pays out when you pass away. No matter when you die, your loved ones are guaranteed to receive a death benefit, as long as you’ve kept to the conditions of your policy.

Critical illness cover

If you choose to add on critical illness cover to your life insurance policy then this offers an extra layer of protection. With critical illness cover, you’ll be covered if you’re diagnosed with certain cancers, offering a payout if it meets your provider’s requirements.

Of course, critical illness cover is cheaper if you’re deemed fit and healthy. If you decide to take out cover later in life, this might be more expensive, or if you become critically ill, you might not be able to get cover.

Considering life insurance?

LV= life insurance gives you one less thing to worry about, knowing your family will be financially protected should the unthinkable happen to you. Get a quick quote today!
Get a life insurance quote

How to apply for life insurance if you have cancer, or are in remission

Applying for life insurance can be quick and easy to do, but it does require some thinking first. After all, you need to consider who stands to benefit from your policy and how much cover you need.

1. Speak to a financial adviser

Whenever you’re making decisions about your money, especially larger estates, it’s worth speaking to a financial adviser. As well as offering friendly, non-judgemental advice, they can point you in the direction of products that might meet your needs. For example, if you want £500,000 to cover a capital and repayment mortgage, they may suggest a decreasing cover policy.

2. Consider everything you want to be covered for

During your discussion with a financial adviser, they may ask you a few questions to help them build a better picture of what you need. You may need to clarify how much cover you want, who you want your beneficiaries to be and whether you need critical illness cover. Doing this separately also supports you in understanding exactly how you’d want anylife and/or critical illness payout to be used.

3. Share all relevant details

When applying for life insurance, you’ll be asked to answer a few questions. It’s vital you do so openly, honestly and without error. As well as your normal personal details, you’ll be required to share information about your health and lifestyle. You may feel embarrassed to admit things like your smoker status or your weight, but these are important if you want to get the best cover possible and if needed, make a valid claim.

If you have already been diagnosed with an illness, like cancer, it’s also vital you share this. It’s possible you’ll be asked to supply details of your doctor too, so your insurer can communicate with them regarding any health or medical conditions you have. Sadly, if you fail to share everything that’s relevant, you’ll invalidate your insurance and leave your loved ones without any payment when its needed most.

4. Purchase the life insurance policy that’s right for you

After you’ve spoken with a financial adviser to see what you can afford and which policies are right for your individual needs and circumstances, you’re free to purchase your life insurance policy with a provider of your choosing. It’s important that you feel empowered by the policy you choose.

Need a life insurance with critical illness policy that covers cancer?

At LV=, we offer life insurance, as well as life insurance with critical illness, helping to protect you and your loved ones against illnesses like cancer. As one of the most common reasons to claim, many families have relied on us for support when their loved ones became ill. If you’re interested in a life insurance policy with critical illness included, get a quote from us today.

FAQs about life insurance with cancer

Should you declare any family history of cancer when applying for life insurance?

Yes, you should share any known family history of cancer with your insurer. Ideally, this will be before you take out a policy. Whilst most cancers are caused by gene faults that develop during our lifetime (Cancer Research UK, 2024), some are born with an inherited faulty gene which is sometimes associated with certain cancers, such as breast or colon.

Declaring this information allows insurers to assess your risk, which impacts how much you pay for life insurance or life insurance with critical illness cover.


What questions might your insurer ask about your cancer diagnosis?

If you’re applying for life insurance after a cancer diagnosis, you’ll have to answer openly and honestly about the following topics:

  • The type of cancer you were diagnosed with.
  • The date you received your diagnosis.
  • The stage your cancer was/is at.
  • The treatment you were given and when it finished.
  • Any relapses or recurrences with your cancer, as well as any complications.
  • Any complications that caused other health problems.
  • Other medical problems you have, that are both related and unrelated to your cancer.
  • The medications you are currently taking.
  • Any lifestyle changes you’ve made as a result of your diagnosis.

Is life insurance expensive for cancer patients and survivors?

Whole of life insurance is the most expensive option for cancer patients and those in remission. As a rule, it costs more because the insurer guarantees a payout whenever you pass away, whether that’s 99 or 45.

Typically, if you’ve previously experienced cancer or currently have a form of cancer, you might find your premiums are higher compared to someone who is considered low-risk. With a cancer diagnosis, you carry more risk, just like if you’re a smoker or partake in high-risk hobbies.

However, despite the cost, life insurance could provide the financial security and peace of mind you and your family need, whether you have cancer or not.