Cancer Survivors Offered Life Insurance

The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. will make life insurance coverage more accessible to men with prostate cancer, recognizing rising survival rates with early detection.

The Hartford plans to announce Monday that it will offer insurance at standard rates to men 60 and older who have been surgically treated for moderate levels of prostate cancer. In the past, men had to wait up to three years following treatment to qualify for life insurance coverage and would have paid significantly more over five years.

The underwriting program is similar to what The Hartford announced in October 2005 for women with breast cancer and is part of an effort to improve life insurance availability for some cancer survivors, the insurer said.

Nearly two-thirds of those diagnosed with prostate cancer are 60 and older, said Mike Kalen, an executive vice president who heads The Hartford's individual life division. Some cases of the cancer are not detected early and are not treated surgically, but as many as 50,000 men each year have prostate cancer detected early and are treated surgically, he said.

As many as 250,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer in the past five years could qualify for the new insurance rates.

In addition to helping men who have been treated for the illness, the policy is expected to be a positive business move, Kalen said.

A 60-year-old man who successfully undergoes surgery for prostate cancer and qualifies for The Hartford's new standard rates could obtain coverage immediately.

If he is a nonsmoker and applies for a 10-year term policy with a $500,000 death benefit, the annual premium would be $3,045 using the new guidelines, compared with the annual premium of $9,210 under previous guidelines. Savings over five years would total nearly $31,000.

He also could obtain life insurance coverage to protect his family immediately after his surgery. Previously, coverage would not have been available for the first three years after treatment.

Kalen said that 20 years ago about half of those who were diagnosed with prostate cancer died within 10 years. With early detection and, if necessary, surgical treatment, the survival rate for at least 10 years is now 93 percent, he said.

The Hartford last year cut life insurance rates for women 40 and older who have been treated for early stages of breast cancer. Previously, those women would have paid more for coverage or would have been denied coverage. The number of applications for insurance has increased by 50 percent since the policy took effect last fall, Kalen said.