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If you’ve overcome cancer or another major illness, you might be wondering if you can even get life insurance.

One of the benefits of working with a life insurance broker (like Quotacy) is that we can help you shop for a policy from a term life company open to insuring people who have survived a major illness like yours.

» Learn more: Quotacy Shops Your Case—What Does That Mean?

By sharing your medical history with our agents, they can guide you toward applying with the best life insurance company for your former medical condition from the get go. This will save you time and may help prevent you from being declined for coverage after a lengthy application process.

As you recovered, your thoughts may have turned to the best way to protect your loved ones in the future. While you may be optimistic about your life post-illness, you may feel that your life insurance options with a pre-existing condition are limited.

In fact, despite your medical history, it may still be possible for you to get life insurance. We’ve worked with numerous people who have overcome major illnesses and have successfully found life insurance plans that meet their needs.

Here are just a few of the many medical conditions for which we have helpful advice in our QuotacyLife blog:

It’s worth researching your options, taking the time to compare life insurance quotes, and applying for coverage if you wish to protect your loved ones with the gift of life insurance after a major illness.

» Compare: Term life insurance quotes

Should I Just Get Life Insurance with No Medical Exam?

You might be thinking that your only option is final expense life insurance.

Not necessarily.

Our recommendation is to research your options and consider applying for a conventional term life insurance policy.

While it’s true that many survivors of cancer and serious illnesses look for a guaranteed issue policy as a sure way to get coverage, it’s not always the best option.

Guaranteed issue life insurance coverage often caps at $50,000. By design it is meant to simply help your surviving loved ones pay for your final expenses. This is a wonderful thing to do, but if you would be better served by a term life insurance policy with larger payout options, we would like to help you obtain your goal.

Here are some aspects of guaranteed issue life insurance policies that you might want to consider before applying for a policy:

Your premium costs may be higher.

While your premiums for a traditional term life insurance policy may cost more for you now than before your medical history changed, guaranteed issue policies may be even more expensive.

This is because insurance underwriters won’t have the information on your current state of health that an exam would provide. The increased premiums help outweigh the unknown risk the life insurance company takes by insuring you.

With an exam, the life insurance company will have the ability to evaluate your overall health, so you aren’t just a pre-existing condition on an insurance application. This will help them get a full picture of your health and will give you a better chance of getting life insurance coverage after your illness.

It’s worth researching your options, taking the time to compare life insurance quotes, and applying for coverage if you wish to protect your loved ones with the gift of life insurance after a major illness.

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Your loved ones may receive a lower death benefit.

Before you even apply for and get a life insurance policy, it’s important to consider exactly how much coverage will be needed to cover your end-of-life expenses and your loved ones’ loss of income from your absence.

But, regardless of your needs, guaranteed issue policies often have a death benefit limited to less than $50,000. Depending on the estimated needs of your loved ones, you may end up paying higher premiums for less coverage than you really need.

In some cases, a guaranteed issue policy may make sense, but we only recommend this route once you’ve already taken a look at your options and compared life insurance quotes online.

The easiest way to compare multiple quotes at once is with our free quotes tool that gives you offers from the best life insurance companies in the country. If you find one you’re interested in, simply select a quote and apply in under five minutes.

What to Expect When You Apply for a Term Life Insurance Policy

Regardless of the status of your health, it’s a good idea to get life insurance.

Being without coverage is not recommended, as none of us ever know what the future holds.

Don’t become discouraged by the prospect of a medical exam. There are many insurers who offer policies to applicants with medical conditions that are well-managed with a physician’s care.

If you choose to apply for a traditional term life policy, then—just like other applicants—your gender, age, and the results of your medical exam will influence your risk rating that underwriters use to determine your insurability, coverage, and premium amounts.

When evaluating your application, underwriters will also look at:

  • How long it has been since you recovered from your illness,
  • Your health status at the time of your exam, and
  • If you are able to provide complete medical records regarding your diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.

It’s important to be forthright about your medical history when completing your application.

You don’t need to hide any aspect of your journey to recovery. Life insurance companies are on your side—they would like to offer you a policy that is good for you, your family, and their business.

When you work with Quotacy, we’ll guide you through your application and underwriting process. We’ll tell you which life insurance companies may be more likely to approve you for the coverage you want and need.

How to Prepare for Your Medical Exam

You’ve already overcome your illness. You kept believing, marshalling your bravery in order to give it your all while following a course of treatment that may have spanned months or years. But facing yet another medical exam—especially one that will influence how much you will pay in monthly life insurance premiums—might make you feel uncomfortable.

You’ve got this.

This is the time to celebrate your good health and get a financial security plan in place for your loved ones for anything the future might hold.

We’re here to support you and let you know that this shouldn’t be an intimidating step in the term life insurance process. And, while you can’t completely control your outcome, you can take a few steps to get the best results when taking your medical exam.

Schedule your exam for first thing in the morning.

Eating anything before your exam can impact your blood pressure, so you’ll need to fast between for six to eight hours before the reading.

To make this easier, try to schedule your exam for early in the morning. Hunger could contribute to you feeling anxious or tired—especially if you’re working—and you don’t want to do anything that makes you feel stressed out when your blood pressure is being read.

Skip that pumpkin spice latte. Eat light.

Caffeine and sugar can raise your blood pressure. So go easy on coffee, tea, or energy drinks prior to your medical exam.

Foods high in salt and fat can affect your cholesterol levels and your blood pressure.

Although we know it’s not easy, keep away from Eli’s Turducken Benedict at least 24 hours before your exam. After you’re covered, we want to join you as you celebrate over brunch by eating their homemade corn fritters with local Minnesota-tapped maple syrup with a saffron mimosa or two. Yum. We’re all for celebrating the good life around here, but just hold off until your exam is done.

Drink lots of water.

Avoid flavored water with sugar and mineral waters with sodium. Stick to classic tap water and get well-hydrated before your medical exam.

The urine test and blood draw are much easier when you’re not dehydrated. Enjoy as much water as you want and this well lessen your feeling of hunger while fasting for your exam.

Stay away from smoke.

Avoid cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs.

Even if recreational use of marijuana (smoked, in a topical oil, or contained in foods) is legal where you live, your premiums may be impacted because its presence in your blood is often considered drug use. If marijuana is in your blood, you may be classified as a smoker by some life insurance companies, but not by all.*

*Our agents are happy to help you understand your options if you are a recreational pot smoker seeking term life insurance. We understand that laws regarding its medical and recreational use are changing in many states. Our advisors keep up to date on how the life insurance company underwriters are responding to these legal and lifestyle changes.

Finally, even just one beer with dinner can dehydrate you, impact your heart rate, and affect your blood pressure—again, all the things you want to avoid before your exam.

Reschedule if you have your period.

It’s best to reschedule if you have your period. Your flow may contaminate your urine sample and PMS may elevate your blood pressure.

There is no worry about doing this. The insurance companies contract with flexible medical examiners who are used to juggling busy schedules of moms, executives, and anyone else.

Don’t work out before your exam.

Your blood pressure and pulse may still be elevated from your workout. So, give those sun salutations a rest or skip your solid core workout for that morning.

Knock yourself out after your exam.

Get enough sleep.

It’s all about the blood pressure…so, get your beauty sleep before your exam.

Afraid of needles? Speak up.

If you’re afraid of needles or the sight of blood, tell your examiner before your exam starts. That way they can help you keep calm so your blood pressure doesn’t shoot toward the stars.

Stay calm.

Feeling nervous can elevate your heart rate and blood pressure—not something that you want happening during a medical evaluation. Take a deep breath and smile. Remember that your medical examiner is there simply to evaluate your current health, not penalize you for a previous health condition.

Once your exam is done, your life insurance underwriter will provide you with your final rate offer.

You always have the option of changing your mind if you don’t want to accept the premium rates that you are offered by the life insurance company. Your Quotacy agent can work with you to try to find an alternative and compare your life insurance options.

You’ve overcome tremendous odds to get where you are today.

At Quotacy, we believe that everyone—and their loved ones—deserves financial security, no matter their health history. We want to make it simple for you to protect your family’s future and have the peace of mind that goes along with that assurance.

You can get life insurance after a major illness—let us show you how.

» Calculate: Life insurance needs calculator

About the writer

Headshot of Kate Thomas, Director of Inbound Marketing, at Quotacy, Inc.

Kate Thomas

Director of Inbound Marketing

Kate is Director of Inbound Marketing working on business strategy, SEO, and writing for QuotacyLife. Kate's gift is explaining complex financial planning and life insurance topics in a simple and direct way to help families become more financially savvy and empower themselves to make wise choices. She works with Quotacy's underwriters to ensure the financial tips shared in her blogs are spot-on and truly helpful to anyone researching the ins and outs of life insurance online. If you would like a topic to be covered in our blog, leave Kate a comment below or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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