Skin cancer and life insurance
Many people with skin cancer think that it might be difficult getting affordable life insurance. Some people may have difficulty if their cancer has spread. Fortunately most people that have had skin cancer can get standard rates on their life insurance. The extra rating, if any, will depend on the type and severity of the cancer.
Why is skin cancer a problem for life insurers?
It is not really the cancer itself that is the problem; rather it is what he cancer does to the organs and tissue that it grows in. Each organ serves a life sustaining purpose. Cancer can interfere with the normal function of the invaded organ and hence it can interfere with a life sustaining function.
Types of skin cancer
- Basal Cell Carcinoma is the abnormal growth arising from the basal layer (the innermost layer of the epidermis). Because it rarely metastasizes (spreads to other parts of the body) life insurance rates are usually standard or better. See what the Mayo Clinic has to say about basal cell carcinoma.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma is abnormal growth in the outer layer of the skin. The abnormal growth is believed to be due to changes in the DNA caused by ultraviolet light. The mutated DNA cause them to multiply too fast. Metastasis will occur in 3-10% of cases. If the squamous cell carcinoma is localized (has not spread to to the lymph system or other parts of the body) life insurers will most likely offer standard rates. However, in the 3-10 percent that spread insurers may postpone the case for a period of time or charge extra premium for a number of years. See what The Skin Cancer Foundation has to say about squamous cell carcinoma.
- Melanoma is the least common skin cancer. It that starts in the the melanocytes, which are the cells that are responsible for producing melanin (the dark pigment that is responsible for the tanning of skin after UV exposure). These cells are at the deepest layer of the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin). It is believed that exposure from the sun or tanning beds is what causes melanoma. Life insures will rate these cases based on the thickness of the cancer, the extent of lymph node involvement, and the extent metastasis. See what The American Cancer Society has to say about melanoma.
Why are melanoma cases sometimes declined by life insurers?
Melanoma presents a higher risk than the other cancers because it can metastasize early, and it recurs often. The rating system life insurers use is very dependent on the results of a pathology report. If it all possible it is best to submit a copy of the pathology report if you are trying to get preliminary offer from insurers.
What do life insurers want to know about a skin cancer case?
The main things life insurers need to know in order to rate a case:
- type and location of the skin cancer
- the tumor size
- if it spread
- the dates of diagnosis and treatment
- a pathology report
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