Skin Cancer and Life Insurance

If you have been diagnosed with one of these types of skin cancer, you are not alone.  Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer and millions of Americans are diagnosed with one form each year.  You may be wondering if it will keep you from being able to have life insurance to protect your loved ones, and in most cases it will not.  Surprisingly, today skin cancer is not looked at in the same way as with other types of cancer.  Each type of skin cancer is a little different, so each is considered and rated differently.  It may be possible that you can have life insurance at the same rates as a healthy person.

Skin Cancer

If you’re not sure what skin cancer is, let’s review the basics.  Skin cancer develops when low-grade cancerous skin cells start to grow to form an unusual growth or tumor.  It can transform surrounding cells and grow in an out of control way, but unlike other types of cancer, it does not have the ability to spread into other parts of the body in most cases.  There are two primary skin cancer types, which are basal cell carcinoma, the most common, and squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common.  Melanoma is the least common and is a rare form of skin cancer, and it is also the most dangerous type.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

If you have been diagnosed and treated for basal cell carcinoma, then you know it is the least dangerous type of skin cancer.  The skin is surgically removed and generally no further treatment is necessary because it usually does not spread to other tissue cells.  This being the case, most life insurance underwriters view it as a low risk, and if you do not have any other medical problems, then you are likely to be able to have life insurance at the best rates after treatment.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

A diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma can be a bit trickier because there is a 5-10% possibility that the individual will develop cancer in another part of their body.  Like basal cell carcinoma, the treatment is surgical removal the area and no further treatment is necessary.  Because there is a chance that you may develop another type of cancer, it’s important to have regular check-ups.

Life insurance underwriters view squamous cell carcinoma as a higher risk condition, so you most likely will find a life insurance policy from a standard rate up to the best rate.  This will depend on how long it’s been since you were treated, your medical condition, as well as your family health history.  Yes, they do look at family history when classing you for life insurance because today we know that many diseases have genetic links.


Melanoma, also known as malignant melanoma or Merkel cell carcinoma, is the rarest and most dangerous type of skin cancer one can develop.  Because it starts growing from the pigment-containing cells, it has the tendency to break away from the skin tumor and move into the bloodstream where it can spread to other parts of the body.  It is treated by surgically removing the spot and the tissue area around it, but as you can imagine, that often is not the end of the cancer.

The fact that it can spread to other areas of the body makes it a very dangerous type of cancer that will place you in a high-risk category.  The life insurance underwriters may deny you coverage or place you in the highest cost category.  If you receive a denial, don’t panic, you can appeal it or simply look at another life insurance company.  The underwriters will consider the length of time since you were diagnosed and treated, so you do want to continue to have those medical checks.

They will also want to look at the size of the tumor, if it spread to the lymph nodes, and whether it metastasized, meaning it spread to other parts of the body.  Melanomas are measured by the “Clarks level” rated 1-5, the most severe is 5, and the “Breslow Scales,” which is the thickness of the melanoma and the thicker it is, the least favorable view it has.  The underwriters will be looking at these numbers, and higher numbers can be difficult to approve.

Other Considerations

If you are applying for life insurance and have been diagnosed with any of the three skin cancer types, the insurance company will also be looking at any other medical issues to determine your class or eligibility.  If you have another medical diagnosis, it can place you into a higher risk class or lead to a denial by the insurance company.  They will also look at your family’s medical history, your lifestyle, such as smoking or drinking alcohol, and your driving record.

You want to make sure to gather your entire medical treatment records, as well as any written documentation of how you are managing your care for any medical diagnosis you have.  This is usually a letter from your physician attesting to the changes in lifestyle you made and that you are following their recommendations of care.  A letter of this type could be a benefit to improving your class rating if you were diagnosed and treated for any medical problem within the past two years

Applying for Life Insurance

When you apply for life insurance with skin cancer, you will need to know these specifics:

  • The type of skin cancer
  • At what age you were diagnosed
  • Where the cancer was located on your body and if there were more than one location
  • Access to your medical records, especially the pathology reports, which is the best source for the information they want, and any other relevant medical documentation

Having this information will make the process easier for the life insurance underwriter’s to get to work on your application.  It will also reduce the times they need to come back to ask for more information and help if you need to appeal their decision.


If you have any type of skin cancer, it can make applying for life insurance a time-consuming and confusing process to locate the right life insurance company.  Another alternative is to use Smithfin, a life insurance comparison company.  Their experienced and compassionate agents will do the footwork for you.  Smithfin works with many different life insurance companies, such as Prudential, Assurity, MetLife, and more.

By working with a variety of companies, they have the opportunity to locate the life insurance policy you need at the best price available.  The agent can provide you with a free needs analysis to help you determine the amount of life insurance necessary to provide the level of care to your loved ones you want.  They are also a huge help if you are denied for life insurance because they can quickly review your life insurance policy options.  Contact Smithfin today online or by phone to start planning for your family’s future.  It will save you time, frustration, money, and give you all the possible options for coverage.

About Smithfin
About Smithfin

Smithfin William Smith  is the owner of He's an independent life insurance agent.     "We work with individuals across the nation to secure the best life insurance rates saving them time, money and frustration."

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