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Cancer Life Assurance is Possible (even if you can’t get serious illness cover)


cancer life insurance when you can't get serious illness cover

She walked slowly into the room and looked John straight in the eye.

“I’m sorry, but I have bad news…”

John heard the word “cancer” then his own thoughts drowned out the words tumbling from his doctor’s mouth.

“How long have I got?” he interrupted.

“It depends on how you respond to the treatment. All I can say for sure is that there’s a long and arduous journey ahead” came the solemn reply

“Will I have to give up work?”

“Most certainly”

John’s first thoughts, like the thoughts of any parent, were not of himself, but of his family. They were already struggling on one income.

  • How will they cope financially?
  • Who will pay the mortgage?
  • Will they lose the house?


How did this happen to me?

John was the classic “never sick a day in my life” sort of fella. Granted he had put on a few pounds since his 40th and his diet wasn’t as good as it could have been.

But cancer.

That wasn’t expected.

He knew there was something up but being an“ah it’ll be grand” sort of fella, he put a check-up on the long finger. When his doctor sent him for specialist tests, he knew something was up.

But cancer – not in a million years.

They had some investments, maybe enough to see them through a year of him not working. He rang his financial advisor to see how quickly he could cash them in. It wasn’t a conversation he was looking forward to.

“I don’t know how to put this but I have cancer and will be out of work for a while so I need to get my hands on as much cash as possible as quickly as possible”

“I’m really sorry to hear that John, are you ok, sorry stupid question, gimme a minute and I’ll check your file”.

His advisor sounded as shook as John felt.

John heard some taps on a keyboard, more taps, a long pause then more tapping. He had a horrible sinking feeling that something was wrong. Had his investments tanked?

He hadn’t check them in ages but presumed they were ok.

“Is everything ok?” he heard himself ask.



“You do know you bought mortgage serious illness cover with your mortgage?”

Suddenly, John was swept back to a meeting with his financial advisor years previously when they discussed specified illness cover. John had been very hesitant but his wife had pushed him into it.

“Does this mean…?”

“Yes, your policy will clear your mortgage. You can focus all your energy on beating this thing”.

And he did.

True story, he’s now 48, in remission and mortgage-free.

Cancer is a bad bastard

We all hate it and we all know someone who has been affected by it and we’re all at risk of it.

Just last week, I had to bring my goolies for an ultrasound, and I was bricking it. No matter how brave you are, when the technician squeezes that freezing cold gel on the family jewels and they pop up on screen, you mumble a silent prayer to whatever god you believe in that everything will be ok. Thankfully it was all clear.

The one thing that gave me comfort was that I’m insured out the wazoo (thanks to my wife) so I’d be ok financially if something sinister had been found.

Anyway, back to cancer life insurance:

You can look at cancer life insurance in two ways:

1. If your budget can’t stretch to full serious illness cover, you should look at cancer only cover.

For some age groups, the cost of cancer only cover is half that of full serious illness cover.

2. If you have some health issues and can’t get serious illness cover, you can still get insurance against the Big C.

If you have had heart issues, a stroke, have multiple sclerosis, diabetes or are obese, you’re not going to get full serious illness cover but you can get cancer only cover.

What is insurance for cancer?

Imagine you buy a serious illness policy that covers you for a rake of illnesses. You then take scissors to that policy and cut away all the illnesses until you’re just left with the cancer part.

That’s what cancer cover is.

It covers you for cancer like a normal specified serious illness policy…but at a much lower cost than full cover.

It offers a full payout for invasive cancer (cancer that has spread beyond the layer of tissue in which it developed and is growing into surrounding, healthy tissues) but also offers a partial payout for less severe cancers such as :

  • Cancer in situ – with surgery
  • Early-stage bladder cancer
  • Low-level prostate cancer (Gleason score of 2-6)

So let’s say you take out €100,000 cancer cover and get invasive cancer – the insurer will pay you the full €100,000 tax-free.

If your cancer is less severe cancers and falls into the partial payment category the insurer will pay you €15,000.

What isn’t covered?

As with all life insurance policies, knowing what isn’t covered is just as important as knowing what is.

For example, Ireland’s most common cancer is non-malignant melanoma skin cancer. Because it’s usually relatively easy to treat and non-life-threatening, this type of cancer is not covered under the terms of the plan.

However, malignant melanoma skin cancer, a more severe form of skin cancer is covered.

How common is cancer in Ireland?

Every 3 minutes in Ireland someone gets a cancer diagnosis.

Every hour someone dies from cancer.

The incidence of cancer is growing and by 2020, 1 in 2 of us will get a cancer diagnosis in our lifetime.

Why do you need cancer cover?

As well as being the toughest fight you will face, cancer is expensive.

A report by the National Cancer Registry Ireland (2010) highlighted the severe financial implications of cancer on Irish families. These include:

  • Increased medical costs such as consultant fees and expensive medications.
  • Out of pocket expenses such as increased travel to and from hospital appointments.
  • Increased heating and utility bills due to the extra time spent at home recovering from surgery.
  • The actual reduction in earnings due to patients (and their family members) having to take time off work. This is particularly relevant for those that are self-employed.

While we all understand the medical horrors of cancer, the effect it has on your financial situation is sometimes forgotten. The report highlighted the increased financial stress and strain experienced by households where someone has been diagnosed with cancer.

All of this adds unnecessary worry, at a time when you should be focusing on your treatment and recovery.

The payout from a Cancer Cover policy will give you some financial breathing space so you have the option of returning to work when you feel you can, not because you need to in order to pay the mortgage and other bills.

According to Irish Cancer Society Director of Advocacy Rachel Morrogh:

Almost half of cancer patients say diagnosis hurt their career

Now let’s look at how much Cancer Cover costs.

How much does Cancer Cover cost?

The good news is that cancer cover is affordable.

A 35-year-old with no health issues could €50,000 worth of Cancer Cover for just €20 per month.

Over to you

Survival rates for cancer are improving with over 60% surviving for more than five years. Sadly,  survival costs money especially if your cancer has advanced to a stage where you’re no longer able to work. Cancer only cover is an affordable way of protecting yourself today from what could happen in your future.

Remember 1 in 2 will be affected by 2020.

I’m no Paddy Power but even I know those odds aren’t great for any of us.

If you’d like to know more or get a personalised quote, give me a buzz on 05793 20836 or complete this questionnaire.

Nick McGowan | making life insurance easier


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