This year alone, 234,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Santa Monica, Calif. Nearly 10% will succumb to the disease, it says, and every 2.25 minutes a new case occurs. That’s why prostate cancer is now the most common non-skin cancer in the nation, affecting 1 in 6 men.
Sobering statistics, indeed.
But what of the 2 million men who are said to be living with prostate cancer today? How do they pay for critical medical care and still afford life insurance? Are they even insurable once a diagnosis occurs?
Independent agents will undoubtedly face a client who has been affected in some way by prostate cancer. In fact, the Prostate Cancer Foundation says 1 in 14 men ages 60 to 69 will be diagnosed with it. What’s more, prostate cancer is one of the slower growing cancers of all the malignant tumors. A man could be diagnosed well before age 65, but still die from it.
The younger the client, the more significant the prostate cancer history will be during the underwriting process, as the disease is most aggressive in the young.
By learning all aspects of insurability of this impaired risk, agents will be able to better advise clients on what to do.
First, treat a client with a history of prostate cancer as any other client. Determine if he actually needs life insurance. As a cancer survivor, he will have to pay higher premiums, so explore whether he can afford it.
Some basic questions to cover are:
o Is the client married? Does the spouse need financial help?
o Are there young children to be provided for after a death?
o Does the client support an elderly parent?
o What about existing mortgages or other major obligations?
If it is determined that the client does need life insurance, the next step is to explore the area of impaired risk underwriting.
Impaired risk is a specialized area in the insurance underwriting business. It requires knowledge and experience in medical implications of a disease and associated underwriting trends.
Of course, there are ranges of risk in the impaired risk segment of the market, ranging from low or mildly substandard to highly rated substandard risks. Every carrier or brokerage general agency is challenged to review the client’s health history and medical risk and then devise a solution that offers the right balance between a coverage opportunity and an acceptable rate.
Many agents are simply uncomfortable asking a client about these health issues, such as whether he has had a baseline PSA (prostate specific antigen) test or personal history of prostate problems; if there has been cancer in the client’s family; and, if so, what type, with whom and when.
After all, to many people there is still a misguided stigma attached to the word cancer. How to handle this?