Life insurance and cancer

Cancer is unfortunately one of the most common diseases in the world*. One in two people develop some type of cancer during their lifetime.** But the body is not the only thing it can affect. Cancer can also put mental and financial strain on you and your loved ones.

Life insurance can give financial protection to those around you, helping to support them should the worst happen. Read on to learn more about life insurance and cancer:

*Source:, February 2022

**Source:, October 2022

  • Yes, most life policies cover cancer, check the terms and conditions to be sure. If you took out life insurance before your cancer diagnosis, then you may still be covered if you were to pass away from the illness. If your policy includes terminal illness cover, this might also pay out if your doctor confirms that the disease will result in death within a set period – often 12 months.

    If you have ever had cancer, an insurer will consider your medical history as part of any new insurance application. This could mean more expensive premiums, but it shouldn’t stop you from being able to protect your loved ones financially.

    Critical illness insurance might also pay out in the event of a cancer diagnosis, though this can depend on the type of cancer. Your policy documents should list and specify the terms of your critical illness cover. It’s a good idea to check them to find out what conditions are eligible and how to make a valid claim.

  • Yes, even if you’ve already been diagnosed with cancer, you could still get life insurance. However, it can be more complicated, and your premiums may cost more. The insurer might ask you questions about your cancer before offering you cover, such as the type of cancer and what treatment you’re having. They might also ask your permission to talk to your doctor about it.

    Can I get life insurance if I have a family history of cancer?

    Yes, it is possible to get life insurance if you have a family history of cancer. However, it can affect how much you pay toward your insurance premiums because you could be at higher risk. The insurer will likely ask you more information about your family history. This could include the type of cancer that runs in your family and how old your family members were when they received their diagnosis.

  • Life insurance covers many types of cancer. However, it can vary depending on the insurer. If a tumour is non-malignant (not cancerous) or non-invasive, a life insurance policy may not cover it.

    There are approximately 3 million people in the UK with cancer. Macmillan estimate that this number is expected to increase to 3.5 million by 2025, and 4 million by 2030.*
    Most cancers fall into one of four types **

    • Prostate.
    • Breast.
    • Lung.
    • Colorectal.

    *Source:, October 2022

    **Source:, February 2023

  • Yes, you should always be up front about pre-existing medical conditions with your life insurance provider. If not, it can invalidate your policy and you may not be covered. This means if you were to pass away from something you weren’t insured for, your loved ones may not be able to claim the insurance payout and get the financial support you wanted for them.

  • Before insurers will issue life insurance with cancer, they’ll need further information about your condition to get a better idea of your health. These may include:

    • the type of cancer.
    • when you were first diagnosed.
    • what stage of cancer it was.
    • what treatments you’ve had and when.
    • whether and where the cancer has spread.
    • your current status (undergoing treatment, in remission etc.).

    Insurers may need to access medical records from your GP to determine the above. This will need your consent.

    It’s important to note that your insurer will ask about more than just cancer. They’ll also want your complete medical history, including any other conditions and illnesses.

  • While everyone’s needs are different, there are several types of life insurance suitable for cancer patients.

    Whole life insurance

    Offering long-term protection, whole life insurance covers you for your entire life, however long it may be. This type of policy will pay out to your loved ones upon your death, following a valid claim. However, whole of life cover can come with higher premiums as it has no defined term.

    Term life insurance

    Term life insurance pays out if a valid claim is made before your policy end date. Due to its flexibility, you can tailor it around your needs and requirements. For example, you may only want cover while you have a mortgage, or while your children are dependent on you.
    You can select options like an increasing term life policy, for cover that goes up over time. Or you can select decreasing term life insurance, which is suited to covering loan repayments like mortgages.

    Critical illness insurance

    Critical illness insurance may also cover some types of cancer. This type of policy pays out a lump sum upon your diagnosis, as long as it’s a condition listed on your policy. That way, you can use the funds to help support your lifestyle and let you and your loved ones focus on your health.

    At Halifax, you can buy life and critical illness together, or separately. Always read policy documentation carefully before you go ahead, making sure it gives the cover you really need.

    Whatever cover you select, it’s important to know that your policy has no cash in value at any time. If no claim is made during the term, the policy will end and you’ll get no money back. If you don’t pay your premiums on time, the policy will end and you’ll get no money back.

    Our life insurance and critical illness cover policies are provided by Scottish Widows - who are also part of Lloyds Banking Group. They are our life insurance experts, helping to protect what matters most for over 200 years.

An image of a couple holding hands.

Frequently asked questions

  • No, most life insurance policies only provide a pay-out after the policy holder dies, and their loved ones make a valid claim. Other types of policy, such as life insurance with terminal illness cover or critical illness cover, could pay out on diagnosis, if the policy’s listed conditions include the type of cancer.

  • If you already have life cover, then you won’t need to tell your insurer. If you haven’t taken out a life insurance policy yet, or are making changes to your cover, you should be open about any changes to your health. Even if you’ve kept up with paying your premiums, any discrepancies could mean the insurer declines your insurance payout. Your loved ones wouldn’t get the support you wanted.

  • No, life insurance only pays out if your loved ones make a valid claim after your passing. However, if you have critical illness cover then you could receive a payout after diagnosis. It’s worth bearing in mind that critical illness cover can only pay out for conditions listed on your policy.

  • Life insurance provides cover in the event of your death. This means your loved ones may be able to make a claim regardless of the type of cancer. In critical illness cover, payouts can only be made for specific conditions listed on your policy, including certain types of cancer. Check the terms and conditions of your policy to be sure.

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