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Ask the Life Insurance Expert

My husband was diagnosed with stage 1 vocal cord cancer at the end of 2010 and completed recommended treatment in April 2011. We then lost health insurance, so he hasn't been able to go back to the doctor to confirm the treatment was successful. Can he still get life insurance?

Life insurance is often available for cancer survivors, especially when the cancer is caught early. In some cases, life insurance companies don't approve applicants until one or more years after the completion of treatment.

But underwriting varies among companies. Some insurers are more willing than others to issue policies to people with certain health conditions. Underwriting practices also change as treatment and outcomes for patients improve. Thanks to advances in breast cancer treatment, for instance, women with a history of the disease can qualify for better rates sooner after treatment than in previous years.

That's why it's important to shop around for life insurance quotes and to work with an independent insurance agent. If possible, it's best to work with an impaired risk specialist, a type of agent who specializes in helping clients with high risk factors -- such as having certain health conditions or a tendency to engage in risky hobbies or activities -- get life insurance coverage.

These agents keep up with the underwriting practices of many different life insurance companies and can advise you on which insurers are most likely to approve you for coverage at the best rates.

Insurance companies consider many factors when underwriting policies and will want details about your husband's treatment and follow-up, and his current health.

For more about how underwriting practices can change, see Breast cancer survivors are getting better access to life insurance.

Last updated: Jun. 26, 2012