Blog | Where to Buy Burial Life Insurance if You Have Cancer?

Where to Buy Burial Life Insurance if You Have Cancer?

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This article is specifically written for seniors, people above the age of 50, that are interested in and researching Final Expense Burial Life Insurance for people with cancer. If you are younger than age 50, there ARE INDEED OPTIONS AVAILABLE FOR YOU, please click here and fill out the form, TAP THE BUTTON BELOW or call us direct at 734-288-8323 – NOTE: I highly recommend you read the entire article, there is another quote button at the bottom of this article.

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Burial Life Insurance: You have cancer or someone close to you has cancer and you, or they, lived through a nightmare, an absolute nightmare. You beat cancer, you persevered yet you came to realize that as fortunate as you were, that IF you had not made persevered your death would have been a financial burden on your family.

First and foremost, congratulations to you and your loved ones for fighting cancer – AND WINNING!

Second, having personally lived through many family and friends that battled cancer, and won, we can all agree that it’s a life changing experience. Almost unanimously, my friends and family that have survived have all said they have a new perspective on life.

Once survivors get over the initial physical and emotional exhaustion, then the next logical series of emotions is;

That was a close call, too close. Had the outcome been different, I would have been a burden on my family – BUT – who is going to insure me now that I have been diagnosed and treated for cancer?

Cancer Survivors and Life Insurance – The Reality

Burial Life Insurance: This will come as no surprise, cancer is one of the primary health conditions which EVERY life insurance carrier will inquire about on an application. The secret is knowing which insurance company will insure you, all insurance carriers and companies have different underwriting guidelines and standards.

REALITY: Depending on when were last treated and/or diagnosed, you have different options available to you. Even if you are currently being treated (i.e. chemotherapy), you may still be eligible for an affordable burial insurance policy.

Cancer and Life Insurance “Lookback Period”

There are 5 general health conditions that most (all) burial life insurance carrier will ask;

There may be other health conditions, but these conditions are the ones I ALWAYS ask about first when speaking with prospective clients. I pose the question(s) as follows;

“In the past 5 years, have you been diagnosed or treated for cancer?

“In the past 5 years, have you been diagnosed or treated for diabetes?

“In the past 5 years, have you been diagnosed or treated for a heart attack or anything to do with your heart?

“In the past 5 years, have you been diagnosed or treated for COPD?

“In the past 5 years, have you been diagnosed or treated for Stroke/TIA?

If the prospective client responds “YES”, then there additional follow-up questions for each condition. For this article, obviously, we are going to focus on and discuss cancer.


Now we have confirmed, in this case, a diagnosis or treatment lookback period of 5 years. Most carriers have a lookback period of anywhere from 0-4 years, however I ask the question as a lookback for 5 years. I do this because of experience (!!!) and to make sure that we get the full picture of your health before we start investigating a solution, a carrier, and a policy.

Once we know there is a diagnosis or treatment for cancer for a specific case, the first follow up question is;

When exactly was your last diagnosis or treatment?

We will break down the responses to this question into additional lookback periods in the next section (1 year lookback, 2 year lookback, 3 year, 4 year lookback). At this point the adviser/agent knows there is a cancer risk factor, it is absolutely imperative the adviser to ask and understand the last diagnosis/treatment AND the history of prescription medication for cancer.

Further Breaking Down the Lookback Period

Below is a simplistic chart of carriers, policies, and health classes for people with cancer with respect to “LOOKBACK PERIOD”.

Carriers with a 4 Years Lookback

Carriers with a 3 Year Lookback

Carriers with a 2 Year Lookback

Carriers with a 1 Year Lookback

  • American Amicable – Modified policy if last treatment < 1 year ago
  • Baltimore Life – SG2 if last treatment < 1 years ago
  • Transamerica – Graded Policy if last cancer treatment < 1 years ago
  • United Home Life – Express Issue Whole Life, Graded if < 1 years

Guaranteed Issue Carriers – No Medical Questions

The carriers above are for DAY 1 COVERAGE (they will ask medical questions but no medical exams) – AND – will get you the best rates possible. There are, however, some cases that will indeed require Guaranteed Issue (a.k.a. no medical questions).

Please do understand that Guaranteed Issue policies do come with a “2 Year Waiting Period”. A 2 year waiting period means that you will pay premiums for 2 years WITHOUT A DEATH BENEFIT. If a Guaranteed Issue policy holder passes in the first two years, the insurance company will return ALL your premiums plus interest (most carriers in most states will return premiums + 10%.)

CANCER SURVIVORS: How to Proceed and Apply for Life Insurance

The above list of carriers is accurate as of the winter 2019. I provided the list for two important purposes;

  1. HOPE – Yes, seeing the options in writing gives people HOPE, and if we can provide you with HOPE that there are options, we have done our job!
  2. A REFERENCE AND STARTING POINT – Rather than meander through the internet trying to find relevant (and accurate) information, this article and the carrier list above is a GREAT place to start!

QUESTION: Can you pick up the phone and call one of the insurance companies directly?

ANSWER: Yes you can, however, I HIGHLY recommend you speak with an independent adviser or agent. If you call the carrier directly, they will ONLY give you information, benefits, and features for ONE product. If you speak with an experienced and knowledgeable independent agent, they can provide information, benefits, and features for MANY CARRIERS AND POLICIES – saving you valuable time and money.

Be Prepared to Answer Important Questions

As previously mentioned, once someone has answered YES to the being diagnosed or treated for cancer in the past 5 years, that will trigger additional questions. You should be prepared to answer these questions (and more);

  1. What type of cancer did you have?
  2. When was the last treatment (any kind)?
  3. When did you last have cancer?
  4. How many times have you had cancer?

Those are questions we will ask you, so we can determine what choices you will have with each company.

Prescription History, MIB and Cancer Treatments

In the case of cancer, final expense burial life insurance companies categorize the treatment for it in the same category as having it. Unfortunately this means that if you are being treated for cancer or if you are prescribed medication for cancer, insurance companies consider this to be the same as having cancer, and vice versa.

ALL life insurance companies that underwrite NON-GUARANTEED ISSUE POLICIES will require you to consent to an inquiry into the MIB, or Medical Information Bureau.

The MIB inquiry is CRITICAL to understand, especially for cancer survivors. The life insurance companies will pull a history of prescription medications for 2-5 years (depending on carrier). So, any and all prescriptions (for cancer or otherwise) will be evaluated by the carrier underwriting team.

As part of the application process for life insurance, you will be asked a series of health questions, while these question are indeed VERY important, the MIB inquiry supersedes answers to the health questions. This simply means that insurance companies prioritize the MIB inquiry over the answers to the health questions – THIS IS CODE FOR, MAKE SURE YOU ANSWER ALL HEALTH QUESTIONS ACCURATELY AND HONESTLY.

There are many types of cancer treatment. If have experienced any of these because of your cancer, these would qualify as treatment for cancer.

  • Radiation
  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Hormone Therapy
  • Any prescription drugs meant to treat the cancer, or side effects of other cancer treatments (usually chemotherapy)

Prescription Medications for Cancer

There are 1000’s of different prescription medications that are prescribed as treatment and maintenance for cancer.

One important thing to note is that many (most) final expense burial life insurance companies employ a process call the “first fill” protocol. This means that the lookback is to when the prescription was first prescribed, NOT THE LAST PRESCRIPTION.

If you can honestly answer no to a company’s health questions about cancer and you have been taking these “first fill” drugs for a time period greater that they ask about cancer, you can qualify for a level death benefit, or a top health class. This means instant day 1 coverage, no waiting period, and you are eligible for the lowest and most affordable rates. Below are some common “first fill’ cancer drugs.

  • Anastrozole
  • Arimidex
  • Aromasin
  • Femara
  • Nolvadex
  • Soltamox
  • Tamoxifen


Sherry – Sherry was diagnosed with breast cancer and began treatment 4 years ago. She successfully underwent 6 months of chemotherapy and was first prescribed Femara 3.5 years ago and continues this prescription. Sherry’s lookback period is 3.5 years, she qualifies for the carriers in the 3 YEAR LOOKBACK PERIOD (recommendations are Foresters or Royal Neighbors.) PLEASE NOTE, ROUND DOWN TO THE NEAREST YEAR, SO IF YOU WERE DIAGNOSED AND TREATED 3.5 YEARS AGO, THE LOOKBACK IS 3 YEARS.

Steve – Steve was diagnosed with prostate cancer and began treatment 2 years ago. He successfully underwent 3 months of chemotherapy. Lookback period is 1 Year and 9 Months, he qualifies for the carriers in the 1 YEAR LOOKBACK PERIOD (recommendation is United Home Life.)

Common Misconceptions of Life Insurance for People w/Cancer (i.e. Aflac)

Reality check time, before I really (REALLY) dug deep into this research, I assumed that Aflac was the top place to shop for life insurance for people that had cancer.

Why did I think that? Well, because friends, media, newspapers and stories I consumed over time made me believe that.

Lesson learned, DO NOT ASSUME! The night before I wrote this article, I spoke with a retired Aflac rep, who retired because he was diagnosed with cancer.

I asked him for some details, info, benefits, and rates about the Aflac Cancer insurance. Turns out, my assumptions were WAY WRONG.

It’s easy to get HEALTH insurance and LIFE insurance mixed up – Aflac has some GREAT health and supplementary health programs but not much in the way of life insurance for people with cancer. This is exactly what happened in my case, I consumed information and assumed “Aflac cancer insurance” was life insurance – LESSON – don’t assume!

One more GREAT piece of advice from my friend that I asked about Aflac;

Aflac has a very solid group plan that is guaranteed issue up to $18,000. This is a great option for people that have access to a guaranteed issue policy through from work.

SO – I would highly recommend you ask and find out what your options are through work. You may have a guaranteed issue option available, you just need to ask.

Burial Life Insurance for Cancer Survivors – Get a Quote

Thank you for reading this article, I sincerely hope you feel both empowered and filled with HOPE that indeed if you area a cancer survivor looking for help acquiring life insurance! Click the button below to get rate quotes from ALL the”cancer friendly” life insurance carriers listed.

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