Studies suggest that 81 percent of Canadians know someone who has a critical illness or have suffered from one themselves. Taking this into account, critical illness insurance surely seems like a smart financial tool to have.
But what happens if you have a history of cancer in your family? Does it mean you will likely develop it too? Will it prevent you from applying for a life insurance policy?
The answers to these questions are more complex than what meets the eye. First, you have to understand how inherited cancers work, how critical illness insurance works, and what circumstances can prevent you from getting the policy you need. In this article, we will explain these subjects and help you figure out how and why you should apply for Critical Illness coverage.
What is Critical Illness insurance? How does it work?
A critical illness insurance policy pays you a tax-free lump sum if you develop a life-threatening illness, health event, or undergo treatment while under coverage.
This type of insurance is designed to protect you and your loved ones from the financial constraints of getting critically sick, allowing you to focus on recovery rather than paying bills.
Each insurance company has a different array of conditions included in their plan. Yet, according to the Financial Services Commission, most insurers cover these nine diseases:
- heart attack
- multiple sclerosis
- organ transplants
- kidney failure
Coverage is defined by a term-length, agreed upon when purchasing your policy, and it can range from a few thousand dollars to as high as $2 million.
Because every case is unique, it is essential that you understand your needs and read all details carefully before purchasing a plan. In addition, be sure to ask your insurance representative to provide you with a complete explanation of your coverage. This way, you will know the exact health conditions included and if you’re covered for the type of cancer that worries you.
Who should apply for Critical Illness insurance?
People do not expect to get seriously sick but, unfortunately, it can happen at any moment. If you have a familial history of cancer and worry about the financial repercussions this disease could have on your household, applying for a critical illness insurance policy is something to consider.
This type of policy can give you financial security and valuable support services to help you and your family overcome a challenging time. As statistics from the Canadian Cancer Society found, “nine out of ten Canadian families touched by cancer report some form of financial challenge as incomes decline and household costs rise.”
If you do not have enough savings to cover your expenses if you become seriously ill, or if you assume that your province’s health benefits will not be enough to replace your income, having a critical illness insurance policy can give you great peace of mind.
Does a family history of cancer mean you can’t get Critical Illness Insurance?
In general, no. But as we pointed out, it depends on the insurance company and their application process. While getting critical illness coverage with a family history of cancer is possible, policies differ in how they judge pre-existing conditions and medical reports. Depending on your profile, you can either get higher rates or even get denied coverage.
Further than that, and like we mentioned before, insurance companies also differ in which illnesses they cover. When it comes to cancer, you will find that many times, certain types (such as prostate cancer or gastrointestinal stromal tumours) are not included in the policy. The more illnesses covered on your plan and the riskier you are to insure, the more you will pay in premiums.
If you are afraid of being denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions or a family history of cancer, you should opt for a No Medical insurance policy. This type of insurance plan doesn’t require you to undertake medical exams to be eligible for coverage. There are also some no medical plans that take the ease of application one step further by also not requiring a health questionnaire. They might be slightly costly, but, in the end, they give you the opportunity of guaranteeing that you and your loved ones will have the protection they need.
If cancer runs in your family, does it mean you will get it too?
When it comes to cancer, it isn’t just about genes. Most people diagnosed with cancer don’t have a family history of the disease. In fact, only about 5% to 10% of cases of cancer originate in family genetics. Most times, people in the same family get cancer because they share behaviours that raise their risks, such as poor eating habits or smoking.
It is only likely that a cancer gene is present in your family if:
- there are two or more close relatives on the same side of the family (your mother’s or your father’s side) with the same type of cancer;
- there are two or more close relatives on the same side of the family with particular types of cancer that are known to be linked (such as ovarian and breast cancer);
- cancers are occurring at young ages within your family (before the age of 50);
- someone in the family develops more than one type of cancer;
- family members have an uncommon or rare type of cancer.
If this is something you worry about, you can learn more about hereditary cancer through genetic testing. Through an analysis of your genes, chromosomes, or proteins, this exam can predict your risk of getting a disease, identifying “carriers” of a disease, and how it could develop in your body. To get more information on this matter, we strongly recommend visiting the Canadian Cancer Society website.
What can you do to prevent getting cancer?
During the past few years, doctors have made great progress in understanding the biology of cancer cells and how we can prevent this illness. It might sound too good to be true, but it is possible – by pursuing a healthy lifestyle, you can reduce your risk of getting cancer.
In fact, as scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health estimate, up to 75% of American cancer deaths can be prevented.
So what can you do to prevent getting sick with cancer? Mainly, change your lifestyle. And there is no time like the present to start making positive changes to feel better and live longer. Here are a few tips you should follow to reduce your risk of getting cancer:
Have a healthy body weight.
More than half of all Canadians have excess weight, putting them at increased risk for cancer. Achieving and maintaining healthy body weight isn’t easy, but throughout a balanced diet and regular exercise, it is within everyone’s reach. If you want to know if you have healthy body weight, you can calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index) here. As for your diet, it is advisable that you consult a nutritionist to figure the best plan for you.
In Canada, smoking is responsible for an estimated 30% of all cancer deaths. If you want to decrease your risk of getting cancer, quitting smoking is absolutely essential. Quitting is challenging, and every person deals with it differently. Some quit gradually, while others stop and start many times. If your goal is to quit soon and effectively, check this help centre operated by the Canadian Cancer Society and find the right type of program for your circumstances. It is a free and confidential service that will give you all the information and support you need.
Be careful with the sun.
Even in Canada, sunlight is strong enough to cause skin cancer and other health problems, such as eye damage and immune system suppression. To avoid these conditions, especially during Summer, reduce your time in the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m and always use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Sunglasses with UV 400 or 100% UV protection are also a must.
Control your alcohol consumption.
As we all know by now, drinking any type of alcohol raises the risk of developing cancer, especially in the digestive system. If you feel like you should limit your alcohol consumption, there are many ways to gradually and effectively do so. You can start by limiting yourself to less than 1 drink per day, and, in social gatherings, given preference to alcohol-free mixtures (the famous mocktails), juices, kombuchas, and 0% beers. And don’t forget: never use alcohol to quench your thirst. Water is the answer!
Follow a healthy diet.
Eating well isn’t about counting calories; it is about following a varied diet with all the nutrients you need for good health. Needless to say, vegetables and fruit are an absolute must, along with ingredients rich in fibre (such as whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds), and some protein (fish and seafood, eggs, turkey, and so on). Finally, you should also limit your consumption of red meat, processed meat, fast food, and anything that has too much salt or sugar.
As many studies concluded, some viruses and other infections can cause cancer. Right now, for viruses that can lead to cancer, there are only vaccines for HPV (human papillomavirus) and HBV (hepatitis B virus). If this is something that worries you, you can ask your doctor if getting vaccinated for HPV or HBV is right for you.
Do regular medical check-ups.
Regardless of having a history of cancer in your family, you should pay attention to your body and make regular check-ups to make sure everything is in order. If you notice something different on your body – like a lump, unjustified fatigue, or dramatic weight loss – you need to see a doctor as soon as possible. Don’t forget: when cancer is found early, it’s often easier to treat, so it is better to be safe than sorry.
How can Speciality Life Insurance help you?
If you have a family history of cancer, it is very understandable that you worry about your chances of getting insured – and about how much it can cost you.
At Specialty Life Insurance, we have the perfect Critical Illness policy to give you and your loved ones peace of mind, which covers over 20 conditions (including cancer).
With us, your health will not affect your eligibility or your rates. As we don’t require medical exams nor reports to apply for our plan, you can easily get the coverage you need from your house, without worrying about long meetings, questionnaires, or denial.
To apply, you simply need to have a permanent address within Canada and be between the ages of 18 and 69. Nothing else. Basically, if you meet the age eligibility, your acceptance is guaranteed. Find more information about our Critical Illness plan and ask for a free quote here. Our team of friendly advisors will get in touch with you soon to walk you through your best options!