In recent years, a contentious issue has arisen, revealing the challenges faced by cancer survivors in obtaining life insurance even after successfully recovering from the disease.
Access to life insurance is typically a requirement for securing mortgage approval when purchasing a home. However, individuals with past cancer diagnoses have encountered challenges in securing coverage.
From 6 December 2023, cancer survivors no longer face exclusion from mortgage protection as life insurers adopt a new code of practice.
What is the code?
The Code officially takes effect from 06 December 2023 and you can read the full Code text on the Insurance Ireland website.
The Code of Practice was created to make mortgage protection coverage as accessible as feasible to as many cancer survivors as possible.
This means that cancer diagnoses that were made more than seven years ago, or more than five years ago if the diagnosis was made when the patient was less than eighteen, will be disregarded by mortgage protection insurance providers.
What are the changes in life insurers’ underwriting as a result of the implementation of this code?
The life insurer will disregard any stated cancer diagnosis if all of the following conditions are met under the “Insurance Ireland Code of Practice for Underwriting Mortgage Protection Insurance for Cancer Survivors”:
- The application is for a new personal decreasing term life insurance policy (Mortgage Protection) covering only the risk of death. No other products are covered by the Code.
- The request is for mortgage coverage on the applicant’s primary residence. A primary residence is where the applicant resides most, if not all, of the time. The Code excludes mortgages for second homes or buy-to-let properties.
- The sum assured applied for is the lower of the mortgage amount, or €500,000.
- The applicant ended cancer treatment over seven years before the application or over five years before the application if the individual was under 18 at the time of diagnosis.
Meeting all the specified criteria means the life insurance provider will overlook the cancer diagnosis, and there won’t be any extra charges in the application for decreasing term life (mortgage protection).
How is the ‘end of treatment’ defined?
When the code mentions that cancer treatment has ended, it means:
- That the applicant is in complete remission, and
- Any active treatment has ended.
Complete remission is determined by a cancer survivor’s treating oncologist. This involves the absence of signs and symptoms related to a cancer diagnosis, which may be assessed through various methods, including but not limited to physical examination, radiological investigation, and serum biomarkers.
Active treatment refers to the application of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, biological agents, immunotherapy, bone marrow transplant, or any evidence-based medical methods aimed at curing cancer.
Active treatment excludes the use of anti-hormonal medications or any preventive therapy or medicine designed to decrease the risk of recurrence after achieving complete remission.
Which types of life insurance are included under the Code?
Only mortgage protection insurance policies are included.
Any other products are specifically not included, and standard underwriting criteria will be in effect.
How much cover is allowable under the Code?
€500,000 is the maximum amount of cover that qualifies under the Code.
However, depending on the insurer, you might be able to apply for a single policy for any sum assured, and the terms of the Code will be applied to the first €500,000 of cover. Normal underwriting criteria will then apply to any amount above €500,000.
Can I apply for mortgage protection and use the Code if I received treatment six years and six months ago?
Yes, but only if you were under 18 at the time of your cancer diagnosis.
The Code provides coverage for cancer treatments that concluded more than seven years before the application, or more than five years if the patient was under eighteen at the time of diagnosis. The Code is only available to you once these deadlines have been met.
I already have coverage for my primary residence, and now I’m obtaining a mortgage for an investment property. Can I avail of coverage under the Code for my €500,000 investment property?
No. As the mortgage is not for your principal private residence, you cannot avail of the Code.
I received a breast cancer diagnosis at 28 and underwent surgery, followed by chemotherapy that concluded eight years ago. However, I was on Tamoxifen until three years ago. When the life insurance provider inquires about the last treatment date, which date should I provide?
Your last treatment date is the date you finished your chemotherapy course. So, that’s the date you need to provide. In this sense, “treatment” refers to medical interventions including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other therapies aimed at curing cancer.
Treatments intended to reduce the chance of recurrence, such as anti-hormonal medications like Tamoxifen, are not classified as therapies under the Code.
If my application was delayed or rejected before, but I now meet the new Code’s criteria, what should I do?
You should contact LowQuotes to submit a new application, providing details about the cancer diagnosis. Remember that the new application will consider your current age.
Does the Code apply to me if I already have a policy in progress?
Get your Mortgage Protection quote with LowQuotes
If you have any additional inquiries regarding this Code or the general policy application process, please reach out to us. We are here to provide personalised advice to address your specific needs.
Alternatively, you can read our article, Mortgage Protection: Everything You Need to Know, where we clarify the most frequently asked question about this insurance.