Jeff is a well-known speaker and expert in life insurance and financial planning. He has been featured and quoted in Nerdwallet, Bloomberg, Forbes, U.S. News & Money, USA Today, and other leading finance websites. He is a licensed life insurance agent and has helped over 3000 people secure life insurance. He is licensed in all 50 states & DC. Jeff has spoken at top insurance conferen...

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Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has two years' experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. He is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Reviewed by Benji Carr
Former Licensed Life Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 14, 2020

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Before we launch into this article, we want to talk to you about cancer survival and support.

You see: it is our duty to report to you how underwriters view your cancer and what it means for your life insurance; however, it is also our duty to let you know when what you’re reading is going to be difficult for you.

The article you’re about to read concerns ovarian cancer, which accounts for 3% of all cancers in women. According to the American Cancer Society, roughly 1 in 75 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and roughly 1 on 100 will die from the disease.

The survival rates for individuals with ovarian cancer are not good, and the statistics and information provided in this article may trigger feelings of depression, anxiety, and helplessness.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, we highly encourage you to visit the American Cancer Society’s website for resources on support groups to help you through this difficult time.

How Ovarian Cancer Affects Your Chances Of Getting Life Insurance

In 2016, the American Cancer Society estimates that roughly 22, 280 women will receive a new diagnosis of cancer of the ovaries and roughly 14, 240 women will die from the disease.Ovarian Cancer - Printed Diagnosis with Blue Pills, Injections and Syringe.

Ovarian cancer accounts for more deaths than any other cancers of the female reproductive system, and is the fifth leading cause of cancer fatality in women; however, over the past 20 years, the rate of diagnosis for this type of cancer has been declining steadily.

This type of cancer develops mostly in older women, with roughly half of diagnoses occurring in women ages 63 and over.

Ovarian cancer often comes with no symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose in early stages. This means that, all-too-often, this type of cancer is diagnosed once it starts producing symptoms, which is typically when it has reached an advanced stage and spread to areas beyond the ovaries.

Classifying Ovarian Cancer Is Typically Done In 4 Stages:

  • I: This stage is limited just to the ovaries and has a survival rate of 70-90%
  • II: Cancer has spread to the pelvic area. Survival rates for this stage are between 50% and 70%
  • III: Cancer has, by this stage, spread to the abdominal cavity with a 25% survival rate
  • IV: Cancer has distantly metastasized and the survival rate has dropped to 10%

In terms of underwriting, the stage of cancer will be considered, along with its survival rates and any other health conditions, before assessing a premium price.

Because many of these cancers have already spread by the time they are diagnosed, a waiting period between 1 and 5 years after the last treatment will most likely be required before you are considered for coverage.

The cancer’s grade will also determine how your risk is assessed. The grade of ovarian cancer is typically determined by a pathology report following a surgical removal of the cancer, which is the most common form of treatment for this type of cancer. Often, surgery is supplemented by chemotherapy and/or radiation, depending on the aggressiveness of the cancer.

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Underwriting Ovarian Cancer

The typically aggressive nature of ovarian cancer means that it is difficult to immediately obtain life insurance at a reasonable rate.

Underwriters will first determine the exact name of the cancer, along with its stage and grade. Roughly 90% of ovarian cancers are classified as epithelial carcinomas; however, there are a few other classifications of ovarian cancer, such as sarcomas or germ cell tumors.

A client’s pathology report will be able to help underwriters assess the risk of the cancer in more depth, but typically they use the following guidelines for determining premiums:

  • Stage I: A patient in this stage has cancer in one or both of the ovaries, and coverage is typically postponed for 1 year following the date of the last treatment. After the year mark, a patient may be eligible for a “standard” rating or a low table rating, with a flat extra for up to 5 years. This flat extra could range between $5 and $10 per every $1,000 of the policy.
  • Stage II: The cancer has spread to the pelvis in this stage, and clients are required to wait for a period of up to 3 years following the date of their last treatment. Then, a policyholder may earn a  low table rating or even a “standard” rating, with a $10 extra added to every $1,000 of the policy for 5 years.
  • Stage III: The waiting period for this stage is often 5 years, as it has spread to the lymph nodes or surrounding areas. Because of the spread of this cancer, an applicant can reasonably expect a flat extra of $15-per-$1,000 for five years. After the postponement period, it may be possible to still earn a “standard” rating, depending on prognosis and overall health.
  • Stage IV: Due to the low survival rates and high metastasis of this stage of ovarian cancer, many applicants may find themselves declined for coverage. However, if you are applying for insurance 5 years after your last date of treatment with no recurrence, your case will be assessed on an individual basis.

As with many cancers, an individual’s overall picture of health, treatment options, prognosis and medical history will be carefully assessed prior to determining premiums for ovarian cancer life insurance coverage.

Patience is the Key to Finding A Policy

Ovarian cancer, especially, requires patience before finding the best policy to cover you.

Due to the low survival rates of this type of cancer and the aggressive treatments often used, it will be rare that you will find an insurance company that will cover you without first requiring a waiting period.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you and your family have to go entirely unprotected. A qualified life insurance agent may be able to direct you to suitable alternative life insurance options during your waiting period.

Give us a call today to find out more information about obtaining life insurance coverage after an ovarian cancer diagnosis.