Critical illness Cover Refusal

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I feel slightly silly posting this, since my cancer diagnosis was sometime ago, but I would really appreciate some advice.

I was diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma on New Year’s Eve 2007 and was discharged in Feb 2011. I was very lucky and it was dealt with completely via an operation under local anaesthetic, with no chemo or other treatment required.

My partner and I recently bought our first home together, but have lived together in my local authority tenancy and his own house. My credit improved enough for me to be included on a mortgage hence our recent move.

I am in the process of arranging a will. 

I have a life policy, and there would be a lump sum benefit from my NHS pension (I’m a Nurse in the NHS) to go in with it too. However, I have recently been refused critical illness on the count of my history of skin cancer, my BMI (which I am working on reducing and since refusal I have lost 20lbs in a month already) and a need for some mental health medication in the past (like a large section of the population no doubt). 

Is this legal??

I expected a price hike, to be sure, but a downright refusal??? This is actually causing me some anxiety. I mean, in one respect, I’m fine because of the life policy and death in service, but if I did fall ill I can’t even think about relaxing and concentrating on getting better for fear of my mortgage payments not being met. The only solace I would find is an actual letter telling me I’d have less than a year to live in which case my life policy pays out.

My sick pay entitlement is only six months full and six months half and is, currently, unused.

I am 41, male, and aside from my skin cancer, BMI, and use of anti-depressants I am otherwise doing rather well. I never thought I’d be in a position to own again and want to protect myself, my partner and our home.

Sorry for the long-winded explanation, but any advice would be very gratefully received.

Keep up the great work

NB North West

  • Hi  ,


    Thanks for getting in touch. I’m sorry to hear you’re having such difficulties getting life insurance. This can be quite common for those who’ve had a cancer diagnosis in the past.

    As you’ve already discovered, a cancer diagnosis, or any other serious medical condition, is likely to make getting life and critical illness cover much harder. The application will normally require a more rigorous underwriting process, requiring medical reports and sometimes an examination. But this depends on the type of cancer, the stage it reached and the length of time since diagnosis.

    Unfortunately, we can’t recommend a specific insurance company or product, but an Independent Financial Adviser could look at your circumstances and search the whole of the market and see if there are other alternative products to critical illness. Maybe check with family and friends to see if they can recommend an adviser. Alternatively, visit to find details of advisers in your area.

    When choosing a financial adviser, always check that they, and the company they work for, are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to provide financial advice.


    This information can be found on the FCA register:



    Please be aware that, if an unregulated firm (or individual) is used, there may be no protection from the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme if things go wrong.


    Another website which may be useful is British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA). They have created an insurance directory which can be used to search for life insurance for anyone who has a pre existing medical condition. You can visit their website by clicking here. Please note Macmillan does not endorse any particular company or product that may be advertised on BIBA website.  


    It’s important to remember that insurance companies look at ‘risk’ when assessing an application and will consider the likelihood of a claim during the term of the policy. If the insurance company believes that this risk is higher than average, they might accept the application but increase the premiums.

    If the insurance company sees the risk as being too high, they might decline immediate cover but agree to review the application at a later date, or may even refuse to offer any cover at all.

    Sometimes, an insurer might agree to offer life assurance, but with an exclusion for a pre-existing medical condition (like cancer). Before agreeing to an exclusion, think about the implications of not having cover for that particular illness.

    I hope this provides you with a bit of helpful information in your search for insurance. If you have any further questions or would like to discuss things such as mortgages, pensions or your will, then please don’t hesitate to get back in touch.

    Yours Sincerely,


    Financial Guide




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