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Life Insurance with Melanoma in Canada: A Detailed Guide for Patients and Families

Life Insurance with Melanoma in Canada
Life Insurance with Melanoma in Canada

Introduction to Life Insurance with Melanoma in Canada

What is melanoma?

Melanoma is one of the most severe types of skin cancer. While melanoma accounts for only about 4% of skin cancer cases in Canada, it is responsible for the vast majority of skin cancer deaths.

(Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3503676/)

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with melanoma, one of the major concerns is the potential financial impact on your family. Life insurance plays a crucial role in protecting against loss of income and other burdens. However, obtaining coverage after a melanoma diagnosis can be very difficult due to the severe nature of the disease.

This guide will provide Canadian melanoma patients and their families with an in-depth look at everything you need to know about securing life insurance with melanoma after a diagnosis.

How Life Insurance Underwriting Views Melanoma

Life insurance companies classify melanoma as a high-risk condition due to its potential to spread and impact life expectancy. When evaluating an applicant with a history of melanoma, underwriters carefully assess the following factors:

  • Stage and severity of melanoma at diagnosis
  • Thickness of the tumour and whether it has ulcerated
  • Presence and extent of metastases
  • Types of treatment received and response
  • Time since diagnosis and treatment
  • Ongoing follow-up and monitoring
  • Risk of recurrence
  • Age and health status

The more advanced the stage of melanoma and the more recently it was diagnosed, the higher the risk classification typically is. Metastatic melanoma that has spread to other parts of the body can be extremely difficult to insure with traditional life insurance policies.

Underwriters analyze detailed pathology reports, treatment records, and specialist statements to determine eligibility and premiums. Applicants may also be required to undergo lab tests or medical exams as part of the evaluation.

Types of Policies for Life Insurance with Melanoma

Types of Policies for Life Insurance with Melanoma
Types of Policies for Life Insurance with Melanoma

Several types of life insurance policies are available that can provide coverage for individuals with a personal history of melanoma.

Term Life Insurance with Melanoma

This is the most common type of policy, providing temporary coverage for a specified period, such as 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. It offers affordable premiums, and depending on health, coverage amounts up to $1 million or higher are possible. Those who were diagnosed with early-stage non-invasive melanoma and have been cancer-free for 2-5 years may qualify for preferred term rates.

Related : Pros and Cons of Term Life Insurance

Whole Life Insurance with Melanoma

Whole life insurance provides permanent lifetime coverage as long as premiums are paid. It also builds up a cash value that can be borrowed. The premiums are typically higher than term insurance. Applicants with more complex melanoma history often need to undergo additional detailed underwriting to get approved.

Related : Pros and Cons of Whole Life Insurance

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance with Melanoma

For those unable to obtain traditional life insurance, guaranteed issue policies are available that do not require a medical exam. Approval is guaranteed regardless of health conditions, but coverage amounts are lower and premiums higher.

Group Life Insurance with Melanoma

Those with employer-provided group benefits may qualify for group life insurance up to specified limits without medical underwriting. This can provide an option for coverage if unable to get an individual policy.

Strategies for Improving Your Chances of Approval for Life Insurance with Melanoma History

If you are a Canadian who has been diagnosed with melanoma, here are some tips that may potentially improve your chances of getting approved for individual life insurance coverage:

  • Maintain close follow-up monitoring, exams, and care as your dermatologist or oncologist frequently recommends. This demonstrates to insurers that you are minimizing your risk of recurrence.
  • Make positive lifestyle changes such as eating healthy, exercising regularly, reaching and maintaining an optimal weight, and quitting smoking. Improving modifiable risk factors shows insurers you are committed to optimizing your health.
  • Have your doctor draft a letter emphasizing your good prognosis, low risk of recurrence, excellent adherence to follow-up care, and any other positive details about your health status. This third-party verification can help provide reassurance to underwriters.
  • Shop policies from at least 5-10 highly rated life insurance carriers, as underwriting criteria and risk appetite for melanoma survivors, can vary quite a bit between companies. An experienced independent broker can help with this process.
  • Be prepared to provide insurers with complete details about your diagnosis, treatment, pathology reports, specialist referrals, and follow-up care. Timely transparency is critical.
  • Consider applying 2-5 years after completing early-stage melanoma treatment when your health status is more stable and the chances of demonstrating insurability are higher. The longer the cancer-free period, the better.

Case Studies: Examples of Canadian Patients Getting Life Insurance with Melanoma

To understand how life insurance companies assess real-world cases of melanoma, let’s look at two examples:

Case 1 – Early Stage Melanoma, Full Recovery

John is a 52-year-old male who was diagnosed three years ago with early-stage melanoma on his back, which was 1 mm thick. It was surgically removed and had not spread to any lymph nodes or other organs. He has had regular follow-up exams with his dermatologist since then with no signs of recurrence.

Given the early stage of his melanoma, treatment success, and cancer-free period, John was able to qualify for a 10-year $500,000 term life insurance policy at standard rates.

Case 2 – Metastatic Melanoma, Ongoing Treatment

Mary is a 68-year-old retired teacher from Alberta who was recently diagnosed with more advanced metastatic melanoma, which unfortunately spread from the original tumour on her leg to her lymph nodes and lungs.

She is currently undergoing treatment, including immunotherapy and localized radiation, which have shown success in shrinking the tumours over the last few months. Her oncologist characterizes her response as very promising so far.

Due to Mary’s prognosis and ongoing treatment, she does not qualify for traditional life insurance policies in Canada at this time. However, she was able to obtain a $25,000 guaranteed issue life insurance policy from Foresters Financial to provide some essential financial protection for her loved ones in case of the worst.

Questions to Consider When Applying for Life Insurance After Melanoma in Canada

If you are applying for life insurance after a melanoma diagnosis, here are some important questions to think about from the applicant’s perspective:

  • What specific stage was your melanoma diagnosed at based on the TNM classification system? Insurers will want to know the tumour thickness, ulceration status, and extent of spread.
  • Has the melanoma recurred or metastasized since initial treatment? Any advanced disease will lead to a higher risk classification.
  • Walk through your family history – Have any first-degree relatives had melanoma or other cancers? Genetics may play a role in susceptibility.
  • What treatment did you receive? Be prepared to provide details about surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy medications, and the response.
  • What is the doctor’s protocol for ongoing monitoring, and have you strictly adhered to the recommended schedule for follow-up skin exams and imaging tests? Demonstrate you are minimizing the chances of recurrence.
  • Do you have any other major health concerns beyond the melanoma diagnosis? Co-existing conditions may impact insurability and pricing.
  • Does the policy specifically exclude coverage should the melanoma return or spread in the future? Read the fine print carefully.
  • After what cancer-free period will the insurer potentially re-evaluate your premium rates if you remain recurrence-free? This can provide an incentive to maintain excellent health.

How Does Life Insurance with Melanoma Work?

How Does Life Insurance with Melanoma Work?
life buzz quote in canada new 8 1
How Does Life Insurance with Melanoma Work?

When a Canadian with a history of melanoma applies for individual life insurance coverage, here is an overview of how the process typically works:

  • The applicant fills out a detailed application form disclosing their melanoma diagnosis, treatments, doctors, and pathology details and providing consent for complete medical records release.
  • The insurer’s underwriters thoroughly review all melanoma-related medical records, including pathology reports, operative notes, specialist referral letters, and follow-up exam and imaging test results. This enables them to accurately classify the stage, course of treatment, and current status.
  • The applicant may be required to undergo additional medical screening such as a complete physical exam, bloodwork, EKG, or other tests ordered by the insurer to further evaluate current overall health status.
  • After comprehensively assessing the melanoma history and all health information provided, underwriters will determine the risk classification – standard, rated, or declined. Higher risk equals higher premiums required to obtain coverage.
  • Based on the underwriting assessment, an insurance quote is offered to lay out the policy premium rate, which may include table ratings or exclusions for recurrence, metastases, etc..
  • Suppose the applicant accepts the terms of the policy offer. In that case, they complete any other requirements from the insurer, such as screenings and then begin paying the quoted premiums to activate coverage.
  • The insurer may require periodic medical exams, bloodwork, scans, or other monitoring to maintain the original premium rate over time.

Pros and Cons of Getting Life Insurance with Melanoma

There are several unique advantages and potential drawbacks of obtaining life insurance with melanoma in Canada that are important to understand:

Pros

  • Life insurance with melanoma is crucial to provide financial protection for your family in case of unexpected passing. This remains the core benefit.
  • If health is stable post-treatment, you can lock in guaranteed coverage before any potential recurrence manifests itself. This ensures insurability.
  • For some early-stage survivors, substantial death benefit amounts in the hundreds of thousands remain achievable with affordable 10—or 20-year term insurance policies in Canada, which maximizes value.
  • Guaranteed issue life insurance policies are widely available in Canada for high risk individuals if unable to qualify for traditional underwritten coverage. While benefits are limited, they can still offer protection.

Cons

  • Premium rates for Canadian life insurance with melanoma policies will likely be significantly higher than for a comparable healthy applicant with no cancer history, often 25-75% higher.
  • Maximum coverage amounts offered may be constrained for those with more advanced melanoma, even when approved. Insurers get cautious.
  • Due to the higher inherent risk, most policies have pre-existing condition clauses that exclude payout if melanoma returns, spreads, or causes death. Read the fine print.
  • To keep coverage in place at the standard or rated premiums, the insured must comply with regular monitoring exams ordered by the insurer to continually validate low recurrence risk.

What Does Life Insurance With Melanoma Typically Cost?

The cost of life insurance with melanoma can vary substantially depending on the stage of diagnosis, current health status, and type of policy.

For early-stage melanoma that was successfully treated and in remission for 2+ years, traditional term life insurance premiums may be just 25-75% higher than standard rates.

With advanced or metastatic melanoma, traditional coverage may be unavailable or extremely expensive. Guaranteed issue policies typically cost $2-$5 per $1,000 in coverage, depending on age.

Here are sample monthly premiums for $500,000 life insurance policies:

ApplicantSample Monthly Premium
Healthy 50-year-old male$40
Early stage melanoma$60-$100
Advanced melanomaMay be declined or $500+

As you can see, premiums get progressively higher based on the severity of the melanoma diagnosis and treatment response.

Comparing Life Insurance with Melanoma for Canadian Patients

It is extremely important to compare options from a diverse range of highly rated insurers in order to find the optimal life insurance policy in Canada after a history of melanoma.

Underwriting criteria and risk appetite for skin cancer patients can vary significantly. Independent brokers have access to policies from 30+ carriers to provide the most comprehensive selection.

For illustration, here is a premium comparison of $250,000 10-year term life policies for a 50-year-old male diagnosed with early-stage melanoma five years ago:

Insurance CompanySample Monthly Premium
Sun Life$70
Manulife$90
Canada Life$110
RBC Insurance$125
Desjardins$115

As shown, premiums quoted by leading insurers for similar coverage amounts can differ by over 75%. Having access to a wide competitive marketplace through an experienced broker is key to finding optimal pricing.

Related : How Companies Evaluate Pre-existing Medical Conditions in Canada

Helpful Tips for Getting Approved for Life Insurance With Melanoma

Helpful Tips for Getting Approved for Life Insurance With Melanoma
Helpful Tips for Getting Approved for Life Insurance With Melanoma

Here are some tactics and best practices for Canadian melanoma patients and survivors to boost their chances of getting approved for individual life insurance policies:

  • Try to wait at least 2-5 years after completing successful treatment of early-stage melanoma before applying. This demonstrates stability.
  • If possible, target insurers like Manulife or Sun Life with reputations for more lenient underwriting for cancer survivors when possible.
  • Partner with an independent broker who can help you explore multiple insurer options to find the best fit. Do not apply directly to one carrier.
  • Ask your oncologist or family doctor to draft a letter emphasizing your good prognosis, minimal risk of recurrence, commitment to gold-standard monitoring, plus any other positive details about your health.
  • Disclose your complete melanoma diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care details upfront. Attempting to hide anything may constitute fraud. Transparency builds trust.
  • Maintain consistent follow-up monitoring care per your doctor’s recommendations. This minimizes recurrence risk and provides updated records.
  • Improve your lifestyle by eating healthy, exercising, targeting an optimal weight through diet and activity, and quitting smoking. This will further reduce your health risks.
  • Be open to considering rated policies that charge slightly higher premiums or agree to reduced coverage amounts if needed to secure at least some coverage.

In addition to Melanoma, other diagnosed conditions like Bipolar Disorder, Hepatitis , Thyroid Cancer, Prostate Cancer… also influence your life insurance eligibility and rates. Refer to these useful resources to gain more insights Life Insurance with Pre-Existing Conditions:

How To Purchase Life Insurance With Melanoma History

If you are a Canadian melanoma patient or survivor needing individual life insurance, follow this step-by-step process:

  1. Consult with an independent life insurance brokerage with specific experience dealing with higher-risk policies. They will best guide you through your options.
  2. Make sure to collect all your medical records pertaining to your diagnosis, treatment, and post-treatment care. This includes pathology reports, operative notes, oncologist referral letters, and results of recent skin exams, imaging tests, bloodwork, etc. Insurers will request access to these.
  3. Be prepared to undergo additional medical screening, such as a full physical exam, bloodwork, EKG, chest X-rays, or other tests ordered by the insurer. This will provide them with current health data.
  4. If your melanoma diagnosis or treatment is more complex, consider having your oncologist draft a supportive statement on their letterhead validating your current status and favourable prognosis.
  5. Once quotes are received, carefully compare policy options from at least 5 reputable insurers in Canada. Key factors include premiums, coverage amounts, exclusions, and underwriting requirements.
  6. Select a top policy choice and provide the insurer with your complete medical details. Respond promptly to any supplemental requests. Make the process easy for underwriters to approve you.
  7. Upon receiving the policy documents, meticulously review the terms, including premiums, covered conditions, exclusions, and any stipulations for maintaining the policy over time before signing to accept the coverage.
  8. You must meet any final requirements from the insurer to activate the policy, such as completing a medical exam or providing bloodwork results.
  9. Pay your first premium invoice to put coverage into effect. Congratulations on securing life insurance with melanoma to protect your loved ones!

Where To Buy Life Insurance With Melanoma History

Canadian melanoma patients and survivors have various options through which to purchase individual life insurance policies:

  • Independent Insurance Brokers—The most common and advisable route is to work with an independent broker or agency that represents multiple insurers. Brokers simplify the experience and provide the broadest range of policies.
  • Insurance Company Websites – Applying directly through insurer websites such as Manulife, Sun Life, Canada Life, Equitable Life Insurance of Canada etc., is possible but limits you to that single company’s underwriting criteria and rates.
  • Online Insurance Marketplaces – Platforms like PolicyMe and Insurance Direct Canada IDC allow you to compare quotes from 50+ insurers but lack personalized guidance.
  • Professional or Alumni Associations – Certain groups sometimes arrange access to discounted group life insurance policies that may relax medical underwriting.
  • Independent Agents – Independent agents, while not as prevalent as brokers, possess the advantage of being able to work with and represent a variety of companies. Also they provide wide range of options and tailored solutions.

Partnering with an experienced, ethical, independent broker is highly recommended to help demystify the application process for life insurance with melanoma and secure optimal coverage.

How To Make A Claim On Life Insurance After Death From Melanoma

If an insured Canadian individual covered by an individual or group life insurance policy, unfortunately, dies due to melanoma, here are the critical steps for beneficiaries to file a claim:

  1. The designated beneficiary should notify the life insurance company of the death immediately. Many insurers have dedicated claim intake departments to call.
  2. The insurer will send the beneficiary forms to request personal information, a certified copy of the death certificate specifically indicating melanoma as the primary or contributing cause of death, and proof of identity and address of the beneficiary.
  3. Once completed, the beneficiary submits the claim forms and required documents via mail or electronically. Following up is wise if the insurer does not receive an acknowledgment within two weeks.
  4. The insurer will review the claim information, including the original policy documentation, death certificate details, application notes, and any applicable medical records.
  5. Provided the death is deemed an eligible claim under the policy terms, the insurer will process payment of the death benefit proceeds to the named beneficiaries.
  6. For denied claims, the insurer must provide the beneficiaries with a written explanation detailing why the claim is not being paid. Reasons may include pre-existing condition exclusions or circumstances in which the policy had lapsed due to non-payment of premiums.
  7. If the denial of a claim seems unjustified, beneficiaries have the right to consult legal counsel to review options such as appealing the insurer’s decision.

Conclusion: Life Insurance with Melanoma in Canada is Achievable

As we have outlined, obtaining individual life insurance with melanoma is undoubtedly possible for Canadian patients or survivors but does require carefully navigating the underwriting process. Coverage can be secured with an experienced broker guiding you to the most accommodating insurers, transparently disclosing your medical situation, and being open to rated policies.

While premiums will likely be higher than for healthy applicants, life insurance remains crucial for protecting loved ones from financial hardship. We hope this guide has equipped Canadian melanoma patients and their families with the awareness and knowledge to confidently take action to safeguard their futures.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with melanoma and want to explore your life insurance options, the licensed advisors at Life Buzz newspaper are here to help. We will work diligently on your behalf to secure a customized policy that fits your budget and provides your family with financial security. Get in touch today for a free consultation and quotes for life insurance with melanoma from top-rated insurers.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about life insurance with melanoma

How does life insurance with melanoma work if you are declined by multiple providers in Canada?

If declined by multiple insurers, guaranteed issue life insurance is still an option in Canada with melanoma history, though maximum benefits may be restricted to $25,000 or less with no payout in first 2 years.

What is the difference between death benefits on term life insurance versus whole life insurance with melanoma in Canada?

Term life policies in Canada with melanoma history pay out the death benefit in a lump sum. Whole life insurance pays a smaller guaranteed amount plus accumulated cash value if death occurs earlier than average.

Can a dermatologist help you get approved for life insurance with melanoma history in Canada?

Yes, getting a letter from your dermatologist emphasizing regular monitoring, low recurrence risk, and overall prognosis can help improve life insurance eligibility in Canada after melanoma.

How soon after being diagnosed with melanoma can you apply for life insurance with melanoma in Canada?

Most insurers want 2-5 years after melanoma treatment before approving traditional underwritten life insurance to ensure stability of health and reduce early recurrence risk.

Can radiation therapy or immunotherapy treatment for melanoma still qualify you for life insurance with melanoma if successful?

Yes, you can get life insurance after radiation or immunotherapy for melanoma in Canada, provided you are 2+ years post-treatment with regular monitoring showing no recurrence or metastasis.

How does life insurance with melanoma work if you are still undergoing treatment like chemotherapy in Canada?

Active melanoma treatment makes getting approved for traditionally underwritten policies impossible in Canada until finished, but guaranteed issue policies are still an option for some coverage during treatment.

How does life insurance with melanoma work if the cancer returns or spreads after previously having a policy in place?

If melanoma returns or spreads after previously getting life insurance in Canada, death benefits can be denied if it relates to the pre-existing diagnosis per the policy terms.

What jobs or occupations make getting life insurance with melanoma difficult to obtain in Canada?

Outdoor occupations with high UV exposure, like agriculture, construction, landscaping, or watersports instruction, pose challenges to getting underwritten life insurance after melanoma in Canada.

Can you get life insurance with melanoma if you are still getting follow-up exams in Canada?

Yes, you can still get life insurance while getting follow up exams after melanoma in Canada, but may need to wait until getting first all clear exam before some insurers will approve coverage.

Article Sources:

To understand how we uphold our commitment to precision, openness, and impartiality, we invite you to review the Editorial Policy at Lifebuzz.ca. Our reputation as the most reliable source for life insurance news in Canada is a testament to our integrity.

  1. Melanoma and Life Insurance: How to Secure Coverage and Peace of Mind – https://protectyourwealth.ca/
  2. Life Insurance and Melanoma – https://lsminsurance.ca
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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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