October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same.  The American Cancer Society notes that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.  Also noted is that in 2017, it is estimated that among U.S. women there will be 40,610 breast cancer deaths.  The fact that women are still very much underinsured is worrisome.

A study by Genworth Financial shows a great need for life insurance among women:

  • 49% of childless married women have no life insurance
  • 43% of married mothers have no life insurance
  • 59% of unmarried mothers have no life insurance

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, and the second-most common cancer overall.  The possibility of health issues occurring is one reason why you should not wait to buy life insurance.  If you have anyone who depends on you, buy life insurance sooner rather than later.  You never know what life may bring and the older you are, the higher your premium costs; also, health issues can cause premiums to be higher too and in some cases may even deem you uninsurable.

Underwriting Breast Cancer

If you are currently in treatment for cancer, you cannot get life insurance.  Successfully treated cancer can be underwritten, however.  When it comes to underwriting applicants who have a history of breast cancer, there are four main factors needed for risk assessment:

  • Age of diagnosis
  • Stage
  • Nodal involvement
  • Size of tumor

The underwriters will carefully review pathology reports and staging information, treatments that were given, any possible adverse effects related to treatment, and your follow up appointments.  Life insurance companies follow different guidelines when it comes to underwriting.  Sometimes a company may post-pone an application and wait until a certain number of years have passed since the cancer was treated.  Other times a company may add on a “flat extra” for a certain number of years.  Simply put, a flat extra is padding for a life insurance company when there is a risk involved that doesn’t quite meet their regular rating system.  If necessary, Quotacy shops your application with the many different life insurance companies we represent searching for their best rates, and these carriers write the majority of the term insurance written in America.  This greatly increases your odds of finding affordable pricing, compared to working through an insurance agent that represents only one company or has incentives such as benefits or trips when working with a certain carrier.

The American Cancer Society has noted that when breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 100%.

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Breast Cancer Case Studies

Applicant #1 – Jane Doe is a 60-year old female with the following breast cancer history:

  • Diagnosis at age 58.
  • Low grade, estrogen receptor positive.
  • Tumor size is 1.1 mm and node negative.

Jane can receive a Non-Smoker Plus rating with no postponement.

Applicant #2 – Sally Johnson is a 47-year old female with the following breast cancer history:

  • Diagnosed at age 40.
  • Treatment ended at 42.
  • Tumor size is 1.5 cm and 1 node positive.

Sally can receive a Table B rating with temporary flat extra of $10.00 per thousand for 6 years, after postponement of 5 years from end of treatment.  This life insurance company does not want to decline Sally, but they would prefer to wait until 5 years after treatment has ended to insure her.  They estimate that when she re-applies at that time, this is what they would offer her.  Because Sally is rated Table B, her premiums will be 50% more than the Standard rate.  She will need to pay an extra $10 per every thousand of life insurance coverage she purchases for 6 years, then starting in the 7th year the flat extra drops off.

Early Detection Plan

The American Cancer Society has noted that when breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 100%.  You can’t get better news than that.  This is why it is essential to take the steps needed to detect breast cancer.

Starting at the age of 20, having yearly clinical breast exams is important.  Every year starting at age 40, all women should have a yearly mammogram.  Self-exams at home can be done at any time and immediately consult your doctor if you have any concerns.  The National Breast Cancer Foundation has a great website called Early Detection Plan where you can get lots of helpful information and create your own plan.

If you are thinking about getting life insurance, don’t put it off.  The sooner you are covered, the better for you and your loved ones.  Don’t put off creating a breast cancer detection plan either.  No one likes to think about cancer or death, but having a plan is essential.  If you are looking for support, the American Cancer Society offers free programs and services to help people with cancer and their loved ones understand cancer, manage their lives through treatment and recovery, and find the emotional support they need.  Visit this site to find out more: American Cancer Society Support Programs and Services.


Photo credit to: Melissa Askew


About the writer

Headshot of Natasha Cornelius, a life insurance writer, for Quotacy, Inc.

Natasha Cornelius

Marketing Content Manager and Editor

Natasha is the marketing content manager and editor for Quotacy. She has worked in the life insurance industry since 2010, and making life insurance easier to understand with her writing since 2014. When not at work, she's probably studying and working toward her Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation while throwing a tennis ball for her pitbull mix, Emmett, or curled up on her couch watching Netflix. If it’s football season, the Packers game will be on. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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