Life Insurance With A Family History of Cancer

One of the most frustrating things for healthy people looking to secure life insurance is being rated on your family’s cancer history.

You don’t have cancer, so why should YOUR life insurance rates be affected?

If you are wondering how your life insurance rates and access to a substantial policy will be impacted by your family’s history of cancer, this guide will provide you with details on applying for life insurance and what companies you might want to partner with to get the best life insurance coverage.

How a Family History of Cancer Affects Life Insurance Rates

Most life insurance underwriters will look at three factors with a family history of cancer:

First, is it hereditary? Colon cancer and breast cancer are two prime examples which might hinder you from getting the best rates.

Second, did your parents or siblings die of cancer? And third, at what age were they diagnosed? If their diagnosis came at age 60 or later, you’re far less likely to see any effects of their condition on your life insurance premiums.

It’s common sense, really. The riskier the situation is for you, the riskier it is for your insurer to underwrite a policy in your name.

Why Family History Affects Life Insurance Rates

While this factor in life insurance ratings is unfortunate for healthy individuals with a less healthy family history, I can see both sides of the argument.

Take a moment to think about the situation from the life insurance company’s perspective. Their job, aside from providing customers with security, is to accurately assess the risk of insuring a customer.

From the underwriter’s point of view, they’re looking at cases for young people for $1 million dollars of coverage for pennies on the dollar all day long.

They would be crazy not to factor in a family history of cancer, because, as you may be aware, there are direct links to certain cancers which suggest you have a higher probability of getting it if your parents did.

But even then, most carriers will give you affordable rates, just not the best health classes.

Obviously, if your mother died of breast cancer and you’re a male, it’s a non-issue.  Or your father died of prostate cancer and you’re a female, it’s a non-issue.

The Good News

From the consumer’s point of view, I understand that you and your family are different when it comes to health, and it may not really be fair to be penalized for something out of your control.

Well, there’s some good news.

When you apply for life insurance coverage, your application is viewed differently by each insurance carrier, and if you have a family history of cancer and are in the market for life insurance, there are some companies who will look at your risk more favorably.

Here’s what you need to know.

Virtually every life insurance carrier on the market will eliminate the “preferred” and “preferred plus” health class if you have a family history of cancer.

Those categories simply give you the most affordable rates a company has for your age group. While most companies will dock you based on your family’s history of cancer, there are two popular life insurance carriers who are still willing to grant you preferred ratings depending on the type of cancer in your family history.

Best Life Insurance Providers for Applicants with a Family History of Cancer

Being an independent life insurance brokerage, we keep our eye on the market for opportunities for every risk and there’s some big news that just came across our desk.

All hope is not lost for getting a preferred or preferred plus status, even if your family does have a history of cancer.

Read on to learn about Legal and General, as well as ING Reliastar, to see how you can take advantage of their most affordable policies.

Legal and General

Legal and General Logo

We have recently received word that Legal & General (which is Banner Life and William Penn) will not penalize you if your family has a history of cancer.

This means you can still receive the preferred class rating unless specific cancer genes are identified in you (i.e. breast cancer and colon cancer).

As we mentioned above, Banner Life and William Penn Life Insurance Company of New York are the actual underwriters on all of Legal and General America’s life insurance policies, with Banner Life underwriting policies in all 49 states except for New York, where Penn Life provides coverage.

Legal and General America was started in 1981 by the British Legal and General Group and maintains strong financial ratings from A.M. Best, Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s, meaning they are a company you can count on to follow up on their promises when it comes to life insurance.

Legal and General offers term life policies, their most popular product, universal life policies, and final expense coverage to meet your needs at every stage of life.

With Legal and General, you can access excellent coverage at affordable premiums, and depending on the type of cancer in your family history and your genetic markers, you could access their best rating classes if your health is strong.

Voya Financial

Voya LogoBefore Legal and General made its big announcement, Voya Financial was the only life insurance company who didn’t factor in a family history of cancer.  Now they have some competition.

While you may not be familiar with Voya Financial, chances are you’ve heard of ING Reliastar. The company recently changed its name to Voya in its rebranding efforts.

While their name may have recently changed, their commitment to providing expansive coverage, flexible options, and affordable rates for individuals who may be barred elsewhere due to health concerns, has not.

To give you a bit of background information on ING Reliastar, the company has an A+ from A.M. Best. In addition to solid financial strength ratings, Voya Financial offers term and whole life policies, indexed, variable, and universal coverage, and survivorship life insurance.

Like Legal and General, Voya Financial’s rating system does not factor in your family history of cancer unless it is a hereditary type of cancer.

Bottom Line

If you’re in good health and have had your family history of cancer affect your life insurance rates, you should look at Banner Life or ING Reliastar’s rates.

You may very well be paying more with your current provider than you could be with one of these two companies.

If you fall into the categories mentioned above, meaning the cancer in your family is non-hereditary and you are in great health, you could find yourself in the preferred categories with Voya or Legal and General.

At other companies, you would need to meet those two criteria, as well as: your parents being diagnosed after age 60 and no familial cancer resulting in death.

Your best chances are to look into the two companies above and enjoy the benefits. You can run them on our instant quote engine to the side, or contact us by calling or filling out our quote request forms.

Again, if your family has a history of cancer and you are healthy otherwise, you should still be able to get great rates from some of the strongest life insurance companies in the industry.

If you think of any questions, please reach out to us!

We’re happy to provide quotes for your specific circumstances, advise you on choosing the right insurer for your needs, and talk through the basics of life insurance so you can walk away with peace of mind and the perfect policy for your situation.


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About Jeff Root

is the owner of He's an independent life insurance agent who has helped 1,000's of consumers purchase life insurance online and over the phone.

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1 Comment

Hi Jeff, Good post. Lincoln Financial Group also does not consider family history of cancer.

September 17, 2012 at 11:38 pm
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