The most common kind of cancer in both men and women is skin cancer. Much of it can be brushed aside as insignificant, at least from a long term morality risk standpoint, but when basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma have been swept under the rug, melanoma remains. Skin cancer risk life insurance underwriting can’t be simple when there is one left that can kill you.
There have been ups and downs in underwriting the two lesser evils of the skin cancer portfolio. For years it was a given that underwriters didn’t care about basal and squamous cell skin cancer. If all else was good, even multiple instances of lesser skin cancers could end up yielding the best rate class. Then came a report several years ago that insinuated that multiple basal or squamous cell carcinomas could put a person at a higher risk of having melanoma. There was something of an underwriting earthquake and almost overnight multiple instances of basal and squamous cell skin cancer would yield no better than a standard rate.
It was about the same time frame that even the lowest stage and grade of melanoma could bring a postpone or decline if it was fairly recent and no better than a standard rate 10 and with some companies even 20 years out. There was nothing ambiguous about the underwriting. Life insurance companies considered melanoma a killer and because of past screening and treatment options they were pretty accurate in their assessment. Growing up we can all remember when cancer was something that was rarely, if ever, beat. Remission was the best anyone hoped for and in retrospect in the 50’s through the 70’s medical science was really missing the tools it needed to determine if cancer cells had spread. Many times the primary cancer was treated and people would die a few years later because it had “come back” somewhere else. The idea of approving a life insurance policy immediately post treatment wasn’t even considered.
Then about five years ago some companies took exception and stepped back from the idea that having a few minor skin cancer events should lead to a standard rate versus a best class approval. It seemed the real tipping point for this and eventually for those who had low stage and grade melanoma was the reality that, unlike the population at large, these people who had a brush with cancer, dangerous or not, were now going to be getting their bodies checked at least once, usually twice a year for the foreseeable future. The chances of skin cancer occurring and getting out of control with regular checks is far lower than the rest of the population.
Now even low stage (0 or 1a) and grade melanoma can be written at better than standard rates within just a few months of successful surgery. We have even seen underwriters willing to approve those with basal cell carcinoma nevus syndrome, a syndrome where patients are having multiple basal cell skin cancers removed every time they go to the dermatologist, at as good as standard rates.
If you have been rated in the past, or declined, because of a skin cancer issue, maybe it’s time to revisit the situation. The pendulum has definite swung in favor of better underwriting because we are a more educated society about our earlier days of “sunbathing”, earlier detection and better treatment. If you have questions or would like to see if you can improve on the life insurance you currently have, call or email us directly. We’re here to help.
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