Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the world. It accounts for 75% of all cancer diagnoses. Skin cancer is about three times more common in men than in women and risk increases with age. According to WebMD, if you or any close relatives have had skin cancer, you are more likely to get the disease. Skin cancer is often caused by years of too much sun exposure; more than 90% of all skin cancers are found on body parts that get the most sun – the face, neck, ears, hands, and arms.
People most likely to get skin cancer have:
- A family history of melanoma (malignant tumors)
- Fair skin which burns easily and tans poorly
- Red or blonde hair
- Blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence
- Dysplastic nevi (atyptical moles)
Types of Skin Cancer
There are three types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
About 8 of 10 skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas (BCCs). This is the most common and has the best prognosis. According to the American Cancer Society, BCC tends to grow slowly and it’s rare for it to spread to other parts of the body. However, if not treated it can grow into nearby areas and spread into bone or tissues under the skin. While BCC is the least risky type of skin cancer, it’s not uncommon for it to resurface. As many as half of the people who have one BCC will get a new skin cancer within 5 years.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
About 2 in 10 skin cancers are squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs). SCC is more likely than BCC to spread into deeper layers of the skin. It’s also more likely to spread to other parts of the body, but this is uncommon.
Melanomas are much less common than BCC or SCC, but they are more likely to grow and spread if left untreated.
Underwriting Skin Cancer
When you apply for life insurance, underwriters review the complete application and all the records that go along with it. This helps them to determine how much of a risk an applicant is to insure. They then decide how much coverage and at what cost to offer the applicant, unless they decide to decline or post-pone the application. For applicants with history of skin cancer, you can be classified anywhere between the best rating of Preferred Plus to being table rated. The table rating system typically means that your pricing for life insurance will be the Standard price plus 25% for every step down the table you are, Tables A-J or 1-10 depending on which format the insurance company uses.
In order for the life insurance company to accurately underwrite you, they will request your medical records including any pathology reports. The pathology report contains information about the size of the cancer, whether it is infiltrating into the surrounding tissue, invading the lymphatic channels or blood vessels, and whether it has spread to the lymph nodes. It also provides the aggressiveness (grade) of the cancer. A pathology report is issued every time a piece of tissue is removed from the patient. Therefore, there may be more than one report representing tissue removed during the different phrases of diagnosis and treatment for the same cancer. The underwriters review all of these reports to ensure an accurate assessment of an applicant’s risk.
For applicants with a history of basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, if the cancer was localized and successfully treated, you typically are not table rated. This means even with a history of cancer, you still have a chance at getting Preferred Plus rates, which are the best.
This means even with a history of cancer, you still have a chance at getting Preferred Plus rates, which are the best.
It’s common for applicants with a history of malignant melanoma to be table rated, but it’s also possible to receive Standard rates as well. Life insurance rates are determined based on the organ the cancer originated, the stage and grade, so it would be near impossible to just guess at what an applicant’s premiums may be.
Applicants that have positive lymph nodes or metastases (cancer that has spread) are usually declined.
Quotacy has much experience getting clients life insurance coverage, including individuals with history of cancer. Our in-house underwriter has worked in many carrier home offices, knows how to navigate each individual’s health history, and knows which life insurance company would be the best option for your individual case. If you are ready to buy life insurance coverage, get a term life insurance quote now and let’s start the process.
If you have any questions regarding underwriting skin cancer, feel free to contact us or jot us a message in the Comment section below. If you are looking to get an idea on the cost of life insurance if you have a history of skin cancer, we will need the following information to provide you with an accurate quote.
- Please tell us the date(s) you were diagnosed.
- What type of skin cancer was diagnosed? How many episodes and what is the date of the last episode?
- Where was the skin cancer located?
- Has the cancer metastasized (spread) beyond the skin? If yes, please give details.
- Has there been any evidence of recurrence? If yes, please give details.
- For malignant melanoma only:
- Which stage grouping? (Stage 0, Stage IA, Stage IB, Stage IIA, Stage IIB, Stage IIC, Stage III, Stage IV)
- Pathological stage? (if available – ex: T3a or T3b)
- Clark’s Level:
- Thickness in mm:
- Any positive lymph nodes?
- Are you on any medications? If yes, please give details.
- Do you have any other major health problems? If yes, please give details.
Give us a 2-3 business days to respond with some individualized and thorough information. Quotacy is here to help make the life insurance buying process easier for you.
About the writer
Writer, Editor, and Co-host of Quotacy's Q&A Fridays
Natasha is the content manager and editor for Quotacy. She has been in the life insurance industry since 2010 and has been 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.