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Life Insurance For Breast Cancer Patients and Survivors in Canada

Life Insurance or Breast Cancer Patients and Survivors in Canada
Life Insurance or Breast Cancer Patients and Survivors in Canada

Introduction: Breast Cancer Prevalence in Canada

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian women. According to the Canadian Cancer Society:

  • An estimated 28,600 Canadian women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2022. This represents 25% of all new cancer cases in women.
  • 1 in 8 women in Canada will develop breast cancer during their lifetime.
  • 1 in 34 Canadian women will die from breast cancer.


With early detection and improving treatments, survival rates are rising. However, a breast cancer diagnosis can significantly impact one’s ability to qualify for life insurance coverage and lead to higher premium costs.

This article explores how breast cancer patients and survivors can obtain life insurance in Canada, key factors that influence eligibility and rates, types of policies available, and tips for finding affordable coverage.

Can You Get Life Insurance for Breast Cancer After The Diagnosis in Canada?

The good news is, yes, you can still get life insurance after being diagnosed with breast cancer in Canada. However, your eligibility for coverage and at what cost will depend on several factors related to your diagnosis, treatment, and current health status.

The stage of breast cancer plays a significant role in determining outcomes:

  • Standard rates or ratings based only on other health factors unrelated to the cancer are more likely to be offered for early-stage localized cancers.
  • For later-stage invasive cancers that have progressed and metastasized, insurability restrictions or denial are much more probable.

In general, working with an experienced independent broker and being prepared to provide detailed medical records can help maximize your chances of securing some form of coverage. 

While you may pay higher premiums, particularly in the first 5-10 years after treatment, most breast cancer survivors can obtain individual life insurance policies in Canada. The key is finding the right insurer and plan based on your unique diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.

What Factors Do Canadian Companies Consider for Life Insurance for Breast Cancer Patients?

What Factors Do Canadian Companies Consider for Life Insurance for Breast Cancer Patients
What Factors Do Canadian Companies Consider for Life Insurance for Breast Cancer Patients

When evaluating breast cancer patients or survivors for individual life insurance, key factors Canadian insurers will examine closely include:

  • Stage of cancer at diagnosis – Early-stage localized cancers confined to the breast are viewed much more favourably by underwriters compared to late-stage invasive cancers that have metastasized to other parts of the body. The higher the stage, the higher the risk profile.
  • Time elapsed since diagnosis and treatment – More time passed since successfully completing treatment and maintaining stability is better. Most insurers prefer to see a minimum of 2-3 years free of cancer recurrence.
  • Types and doses of treatments undergone – Extensive chemotherapy and radiation therapy regimens raise future health risks in the eyes of insurers. Limited, targeted treatments are ideal.
  • Any recurrence or metastases – Evidence of breast cancer returning or spreading to other organs like the lungs, liver or brain represents an exceptionally high-risk situation for life insurers. This greatly jeopardizes eligibility.
  • Current health status and stability – Demonstrating a return to normal health with no persisting symptoms or problems after treatment helps improve the outlook. Maintaining regular follow-ups and monitoring is also beneficial.
  • Age and other risk factors – Younger age at diagnosis is preferred, as is maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and having no other illnesses. Age and risks like obesity or smoking will also factor into pricing.
  • Family history of breast cancer – Having a strong family history of breast cancer increases the perceived risk, especially if multiple first-degree relatives had cancer. Genetic mutations like BRCA raise concerns.

Providing complete medical records, including pathology reports, surgical notes, oncologist treatment summaries, mammogram and imaging results, and bloodwork, allows insurers to most accurately assess an individual’s current health status and future risks. Being completely honest on all applications is crucial – any omissions or misrepresentations could void your policy later.

How Does Breast Cancer Impact Your Life Insurance Rates in Canada?

Breast cancer survivors who had early-stage diagnoses, successful treatments, and have maintained stability for several years often still qualify for standard rates from some insurers in Canada. However, for most patients, higher “rated” premiums are likely for at least the first 5-10 years after active treatment until greater time has elapsed without cancer recurrence.

These general guidelines apply to breast cancer patients and survivors applying for individual coverage in Canada:

  • Early-stage breast cancer: Potentially able to qualify for standard rates after being 2-3 years post-treatment with no recurrence.
  • Later stage diagnoses: Expect 50% – 200% higher “rated” premiums for 5-15 years after finishing treatment before potentially improving.
  • Extended stability: After 10+ years with no recurrence, discounting of rated premiums may be possible.

Ultimately, each individual’s case is unique, and there are exceptions in both directions. It is imperative to shop policies from a range of the top Canadian life insurance companies and life insurance brokers to uncover the best rate for your particular health history – never assume you have to pay the highest premiums quoted. The differences between insurers can be substantial.

Types of Canadian Life Insurance for Breast Cancer Survivors

In Canada, breast cancer survivors have several individual life insurance policy options to consider:

Term Life Insurance

Provides pure death benefit protection for a set period, typically 10, 20 or 30 years. Lower premiums, but coverage expires without value at the end of the term if not continually renewed.

Permanent Life Insurance 

Lasts for the entirety of one’s life, not a set term, and has a cash value savings component that grows on a tax-advantaged basis over time. Considerably higher premiums than term life, but also accumulate equity. Whole life and universal life are common types of permanent life insurance in Canada.

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

A simplified no-medical exam life insurance policy that requires no health questions or tests. It tends to be more expensive for smaller coverage amounts of $25,000 – $50,000. Sub-optimal option but available to higher-risk individuals.

When faced with a pre-existing condition like breast cancer, working with an independent broker experienced in high-risk coverage facilitates exploring all of these options in detail. The broker can explain key differences and help select the right individual policy type, coverage amount, duration, and benefits to suit the survivor’s financial needs and budget.

Tips To Find Affordable Life Insurance For Breast Cancer Survivors in Canada

Tips To Find Affordable Life Insurance or Breast Cancer Survivors in Canada
life buzz quote in canada new 8 1
Tips To Find Affordable Life Insurance or Breast Cancer Survivors in Canada

Here are some top tips for Canadian breast cancer survivors looking to secure affordable individual life insurance coverage:

  • Shop multiple insurers – Every life insurance company assesses risk differently based on their own underwriting appetite and claims experience. Getting customized quotes from at least 5-10 top insurers gives the clearest picture of your range of options.
  • Consider group or association plans – If available through an employer, alumni organization, club, or association, these plans can provide simplified health screening and potential access to higher coverage limits. Always worth exploring.
  • Review all possible discounts – Ask brokers about multi-policy discounts, alumni group specials, employer programs, and any other ways to reduce premiums through bundled products or preferred relationships.
  • Choose the longest policy term possible – For term insurance especially, locking in guaranteed level rates for 20-30 years secures your insurability for decades to come.
  • Optimize your health status – Get regular check-ups following cancer treatment, maintain screening tests, follow medical advice, and lead a healthy lifestyle. This minimizes risks.
  • Work with an expert broker – Find an advocate who specializes in high-risk coverage across multiple Canadian insurers. They have the experience to optimize your options.
  • Apply 2-3+ years after completing treatment – Canadian life insurers are most comfortable with breast cancer cases that have demonstrated stability for multiple years after achieving remission.
  • Consider guaranteed issue insurance – If declined for medically underwritten policies, guaranteed issue life insurance, which does not require any health questions or tests, could provide a small benefit.

What Are Some Alternatives If Traditional Life Insurance for Breast Cancer in Canada is declined?

If an individual is declined for medical underwriting on the traditional term, whole, or universal life insurance policies in Canada, below are a few potential alternative options to secure some coverage:

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance 

As mentioned above, guaranteed issue life insurance does not require any health declarations or medical exams. It can provide a small death benefit in the range of $25,000 – $50,000. The main downsides are cost and limited face value.

Accidental Death Insurance 

Sometimes called accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance, these policies pay out if an individual dies due to an accident. They do not cover health conditions and have restrictions, but they can offer catastrophic coverage for the budget.

Group Life Insurance 

Exploring whether group life insurance is offered through one’s employer, a professional association, an alumni organization, or a fraternal group. The underwriting is often simplified, so chances may be higher for approval. Typical coverage amounts are 1-2x annual salary.

For breast cancer patients who get declined for individual policies, do not give up. Consider the alternatives above, make health and lifestyle optimizations, and re-apply annually until eventually approved. Maintaining persistence and patience is key.

Obtaining some level of life insurance protection likely makes sense financially for most breast cancer survivors in Canada in order to achieve greater peace of mind. There are several compelling reasons to consider coverage:

  • Replace lost income if you pass away prematurely – Life insurance proceeds enable surviving dependents to maintain their standard of living.
  • Pay off outstanding debts so the family avoids the burden – Debts like mortgages, loans, and credit cards can be settled so loved ones aren’t left struggling.
  • Fund final expenses without depleting the estate – Funerals, medical bills, taxes etc. can be covered without leaving a diminished legacy.
  • Cover medical costs if the cancer returns – Recurrences, even many years later, could necessitate expensive treatments. Life insurance proceeds could cover these costs for loved ones.
  • Provide an inheritance or investment funds – Insurance benefits can be used by beneficiaries to invest or fund future needs like education.

Speaking with a certified life insurance advisor allows breast cancer survivors to review their financial obligations, desired legacy, and how life insurance in Canada could provide stability amid the health and longevity uncertainties that cancer brings. The advisor can provide personalized policy recommendations tailored to the survivor’s unique circumstances and budget.

While the process of shopping for life insurance after breast cancer may seem complicated and intimidating initially, it is important not to forgo coverage entirely.

With the right guidance and persistence, Canadian breast cancer survivors can gain financial protection for their loved ones and peace of mind despite their diagnosis.

Pros and Cons of Life Insurance for Breast Cancer Survivors in Canada

Pros and Cons of Life Insurance for Breast Cancer Survivors in Canada
Pros and Cons of Life Insurance for Breast Cancer Survivors in Canada

Potential advantages of obtaining life insurance for Canadian breast cancer survivors:

  • Provides money to support dependents and maintain their standard of living
  • Funds debt repayment so family members are not left in financial distress
  • Covers outstanding medical bills in the event of death
  • Pays for final expenses without reducing the estate value
  • Gives peace of mind knowing the family will be taken care of

Potential disadvantages of obtaining life insurance for Canadian breast cancer survivors:

  • It can be more difficult to qualify for traditionally underwritten policies.
  • Need to disclose pre-existing cancer history, which raises privacy concerns for some.
  • Premium costs are often higher, at least for the first ten years after diagnosis/treatment.
  • It may take some time and effort to find an insurer willing to provide coverage.
  • Contacting doctors for records and completing applications can be demanding.

When applying for life insurance with pre-existing conditions, illnesses like Depression, High BMI, Mental Illness, Cancer, Heart Disease, HIV/AIDS… can influence your eligibility. Read these valuable resources to understand better how these affect underwriting in Canada :

How To Buy Life Insurance for Breast Cancer Patients in Canada

Here are some tips for breast cancer patients in Canada looking to purchase individual life insurance coverage:

  • Speak with your oncologist and doctors to obtain detailed medical records, including pathology reports, treatment regimens, recent scans and bloodwork.
  • Be completely transparent on your applications about your diagnosis, treatment dates, family history, genetic test results or any other relevant medical history.
  • If declined by an insurer, try at least 5-10 other insurers. Get quotes from brokers with high-risk expertise.
  • Consider no medical exam guaranteed issue policies if unable to obtain traditional coverage.
  • Ask brokers about group life options through alumni groups, employers, or associations.
  • If wait-listed, re-apply annually until approved. Make positive health changes to improve your outlook.
  • Set up automatic premium payments to ensure the policy does not unintentionally lapse.

Where to Buy Life Insurance for Breast Cancer Survivors in Canada

Breast cancer survivors in Canada can purchase life insurance through:

  • Independent brokers – Recommended, as they offer policy choices from 30+ insurers.
  • Direct insurers – Top Life Insurance Companies in Canada like Sun Life, Manulife, Canada LifeEquitable Life Insurance… Have specific breast cancer questions.
  • Group associations – Alumni groups, professional associations, etc. It may simplify underwriting.
  • Financial institutions – Some banks and credit unions offer life insurance, often with simplified health screening.

An experienced independent broker with high-risk expertise is ideal, as they present the widest range of individual policy options at the best rates. Checking for group options also makes sense as a potential supplementary coverage source.

How to Claim Canadian Life Insurance for Breast Cancer Deaths

To initiate a life insurance claim in Canada for a policyholder who died from breast cancer complications:

  • Locate their active policies. Check with brokers and insurers for documents indicating coverage.
  • Contact the insurance company or companies by phone or online to start the claims process.
  • Provide requested documentation like a death certificate listing the cause of death, medical records, and proof of insurance ownership.
  • The insurer will review documentation and validate the claim is eligible per policy terms and conditions.
  • Once approved, the death benefit will be paid out to designated beneficiaries by cheque, direct deposit, or transfer within 1-2 weeks.
  • If the claim is questioned or denied, immediately consult with the broker or advisor who sold the policy for assistance contesting it.

Submitting a claim ensures loved ones have access to benefits when needed most.

Getting Life Insurance for Breast Cancer Patients and Survivors is Possible

A breast cancer diagnosis can be emotionally and financially devastating for patients and families. However, there are options for securing life insurance after breast cancer treatment in Canada. Coverage can be obtained with proper guidance on choosing the right policy and insurer for your unique situation.

While qualifying for preferred rates on life insurance after breast cancer is unlikely, survivors can find plans to suit their budget by shopping policies from a variety of carriers. Working with an experienced broker specializing in high-risk cases is key to successfully navigating this process.

The application and approval process requires perseverance, but life insurance provides critical protection that breast cancer patients and survivors should not overlook. Do not abandon hope of gaining coverage that can protect your assets and provide for loved ones.

At Life Buzz, we understand the challenges of sourcing life insurance after serious medical diagnoses like breast cancer. Our advisors have extensive expertise in finding coverage for higher-risk applicants across Canada’s top insurance companies.

We’re here to help you compare your options and secure a policy tailored to your unique needs. Don’t delay – contact us today to discuss your situation. Life insurance solutions are always available, and we’ll find the optimal coverage for you.

Frequently Asked Questions About Life Insurance for Breast Cancer Patients and Survivors in Canada

What is the best type of life insurance for breast cancer patients currently undergoing treatment in Canada?

For breast cancer patients currently receiving active treatment like chemotherapy, the best life insurance option is likely guaranteed issue life insurance. This type of policy does not require any medical examination or health questions, making approval certain regardless of health circumstances. Once treatment is completed and a period of stability has been established, exploring medically underwritten term or permanent life insurance becomes an option to secure higher lifetime limits at improved rates.

What is typically the cheapest form of life insurance for breast cancer survivors in Canada?

For breast cancer survivors in Canada, basic term life insurance policies often deliver the most affordable life insurance rates, at least after the first five years or more of stability without recurrence. Since term life provides a pure death benefit without accumulating cash value, insurers can offer very budget-friendly premiums to survivors who are farther out from their original diagnosis and treatment dates. This allows Canadian survivors to lock in substantial coverage like $500,000 or more for 10-30 years at competitive rates, especially if they maintain regular check-ups and optimize their overall health.

Can you get life insurance for breast cancer patients in Canada if they are still undergoing treatment?

Yes, life insurance for breast cancer patients in Canada may be available even if they are still in treatment. Guaranteed issue policies require no medical exam or health questions. Once treatment finishes, more options open up after demonstrating stability.

What is the minimum waiting period to apply for life insurance for breast cancer survivors in Canada?

Most experts recommend waiting at least 2-3 years after finishing breast cancer treatment before applying for life insurance for breast cancer survivors in Canada to demonstrate stability. Some cases may qualify sooner, but a multi-year wait is typical.

Is genetic testing required to apply for life insurance for breast cancer in Canada?

Genetic testing is not necessarily required, but refusing to disclose results could lead to denial. Sharing any genetic test results, like for BRCA mutations, allows proper risk assessment when applying for life insurance for breast cancer in Canada.

Does breast cancer stage 0 qualify for life insurance for breast cancer survivors at standard rates?

Breast cancer survivors diagnosed very early at stage 0 may qualify for standard life insurance for breast cancer rates as soon as 2-3 years after treatment if showing no recurrence and good health otherwise. More advanced stages likely mean rated premiums.

What is the max coverage available for life insurance for breast cancer patients through no medical exam policies in Canada?

No medical exam life insurance for breast cancer patients in Canada typically offers up to $500,000 in coverage. For higher limits, medically underwritten policies are likely needed, which require disclosing cancer history and providing medical records.

Can you obtain life insurance for breast cancer survivors through a group benefits plan in Canada?

Sometimes life insurance for breast cancer survivors in Canada may be offered through group plans with simplified underwriting from employers, alumni groups, associations etc. These can provide additional coverage beyond individual policies.

Will a breast cancer recurrence impact your ability to get life insurance for breast cancer survivors in Canada?

Yes, a recurrence will likely lead to denial from many insurers for life insurance for breast cancer survivors in Canada. After an extended period of stability post-recurrence, coverage may be reconsidered, but options will be more limited.

How do you determine the appropriate amount of life insurance for breast cancer patients in Canada?

Consider any debt, income replacement needs for dependents, and desired legacy amount when deciding on life insurance for breast cancer patients in Canada policy limits. Your advisor can help determine the optimal amount based on obligations.

What medical tests are required when applying for life insurance for breast cancer survivors in Canada?

Expect to provide medical records like pathology reports, treatment history, recent mammograms/imaging, bloodwork, oncologist letters, and any genetic test results when applying for life insurance for breast cancer survivors in Canada.

Can male breast cancer patients get life insurance for breast cancer in Canada?

Yes, male applicants can obtain life insurance for breast cancer in Canada. The same eligibility criteria, underwriting process, and factors like staging and time since treatment apply, regardless of gender. The cancer specifics determine outcomes more than gender.

What are the main reasons to consider life insurance for breast cancer patients in Canada?

The main reasons include replacing lost income for dependents, paying debts to avoid the family burden, covering treatment costs if cancer returns, and leaving a legacy. Life insurance for breast cancer patients in Canada provides financial security amid health uncertainty.

How long do you have to be cancer-free to get the best life insurance for breast cancer rates in Canada?

After being cancer-free for 8-10+ years, life insurance for breast cancer rates in Canada improved significantly from initial ratings, as the longer stability helps reduce perceived recurrence risk. Multi-year stability is key for better rates.

Can getting a double mastectomy help improve eligibility for life insurance for breast cancer survivors in Canada?

Yes, a double mastectomy lowers the chances of recurrence and can help improve access to life insurance for breast cancer survivors in Canada compared to single mastectomy or lumpectomy patients. It demonstrates reduced risk to insurers.

What are the main types of breast cancer that affect life insurance for breast cancer qualification and rates in Canada?

Invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma impact life insurance for breast cancer the most in Canada, as they have higher recurrence/metastasis risks. Less invasive cancers like DCIS may still qualify for standard rates if showing stability.

Is breast cancer lumpectomy removal alone sufficient treatment for life insurance for breast cancer eligibility in Canada?

Lumpectomy alone may make obtaining life insurance for breast cancer in Canada more challenging, as insurers prefer to see more extensive treatment like mastectomy for invasive diagnoses. More evidence of reduced recurrence risk aids approvals.

Does employer group life insurance in Canada provide coverage options for employees with breast cancer?

It depends on the group policy provisions. Some employer plans restrict life insurance for breast cancer, while others offer it with simplified underwriting. Each group plan differs, so check with your employer's insurance administrator.

What are the most important medical details for life insurance for breast cancer underwriting in Canada?

Insurers focus on pathology details, cancer cell receptors, treatment dates and types, time cancer-free, and stability factors. Providing full medical records is crucial when applying for life insurance for breast cancer in Canada.

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Written by Ben Nguyen

Ben Nguyen is an award-winning insurance expert and industry veteran with over 20 years of experience. He is the chairman and director of IDC Insurance Direct Canada Inc., one of Canada's leading online insurance brokerages.

Ben is renowned for his extensive knowledge of life, health, disability, and travel insurance products. He is the prolific author of over 1,000 educational articles published on LifeBuzz, BestInsuranceOnline, and InsuranceDirectCanada. His articles provide Canadians with advice on making smart insurance decisions.

With a Bachelor's degree in Actuarial Science and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (FCIA) designation, Ben is frequently interviewed by media as an insurance industry spokesperson.

He has received numerous honors including the Insurance Council of Canada’s Pivotal Leadership Award, the Canadian Insurance Hall of Fame induction, and the President’s Medal from the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.

Ben continues to shape the vision and strategy of IDC Insurance Direct as chairman. He is dedicated to advancing the insurance industry through his insightful leadership.

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