I wrote a post last week about prostate cancer life insurance and the different aspects of how to obtain fairly priced policies, the parameters if you will, for success. I think it’s important to consider breast cancer under the same spot light because successfully treated breast cancer can not only be affordable, but immediately available upon completion of treatment.
I just love the maps put out by the CDC that show how states rank in anything to the percentage of population consider obese to a comparative map of the number of cancer cases per 100,000. I noted the other day an anomaly between Colorado and Wyoming when it came to prostate cancer. The statistics show that Wyoming has a much higher diagnosis rate than Colorado, while Colorado has a better survival rate. With breast cancer the results almost completely flip. Colorado has a higher incidence of breast cancer diagnosis than Wyoming per capita and unlike prostate cancer, a much better survival rate.
While it doesn’t explain the prostate cancer thing, a higher survival rate for breast cancer might speak directly to the fact that there are more cancer treatment specialty centers in Denver than there are in Wyoming. Of course there are more people in Denver and its’ suburbs than there are people and antelope in Wyoming. Still, we are blessed to have so many great treatment options available.
So how does all of this relate to life insurance approvals and affordable rates? Let me preface this by saying that there are very few life insurance companies who will not automatically decline you or charge you a huge price for your life insurance with a history of breast cancer. The agents who represent those companies don’t know how bad their companies are. They think it’s normal. I represent the other companies.
As with all cancer, stage and grade is key to getting the best possible rates for breast cancer life insurance. We all have to admit that there is probably a lower mortality risk for a stage 0 or 1 DCIS (ductal carcinoma insitu) than there is for stage 4 breast cancer that has metastasized to your big toe. It used to be that the DCIS could get standard rates, sometimes even standard plus a year after treatment. Recently one of our more progressive and also highly rated companies changed their underwriting so that life insurance could be approved at standard rates immediately after successful treatment. This underwriting change, while bold on the surface and certainly appreciated, is just one company jumping out and hanging their hat on the well documented improvements in early detection and treatment of breast cancer.
This is what good companies and underwriters do. The truth is that mortality risk factors are always changing and almost always for the better. Almost any medical topic you want to talk about today in comparison to 10, 20 or 40 years ago has changed incredibly. Cancer anything used to be a death sentence and if the cancer didn’t kill you 40 years ago, the treatment made you wish you had died.
The other thing that our best underwriters do is call clinical underwriting, a term coined by US Financial Life 15 or more years ago. Simply it means that you can’t take everyone with a Stage 2, grade 1 breast cancer and assume the same mortality risk. The type of treatment. How a woman reacts to the treatment. How aggressive the treatment is. All of these make one case different from another and looking at the whole picture rather than throwing them all in a bucket and giving them the same rate or decline is how life insurance companies and their underwriters step out from the crowd and, in my mind, do the right thing.
I guess in that sense I am a clinical life insurance agent. When someone brings a health problem to me I don’t assume that all companies and all underwriters will treat it the same. I get all the information I can including lab results, pathology and surgical reports and and shop it to 30 or so companies for every case. I never roll an assumption over from one case to another because life insurance underwriting isn’t stagnant. Especially if a chief underwriter or medical director leaves a company, what you thought you could take to the bank as their stance last month won’t hold water today.
Bottom line. Don’t get caught assuming your history of breast cancer has nixed your chances of getting affordable life insurance. That is only true if you use the wrong agent (one who doesn’t know anything about breast cancer or company underwriting) or the wrong company (one who uses the bucket underwriting method). If you have any questions, are considering getting life insurance post breast cancer, or think your case was mishandled or mistreated, call or email me directly. Let’s talk.