Cancer survivors routinely refused mortgage insurance in Netherlands

Pink breast cancer awareness ribbon
Pink breast cancer awareness ribbonPhoto: cienpies/DepositPhotos

Many cancer survivors are refused life insurance policies, which are usually mandatory when taking out a mortgage. The Dutch federation for cancer patient organizations NFK is therefore calling on politicians to amend the law so that cancer survivors will not be judged on their medical history when such an application is assessed, reports.

A life insurance policy is usually required when taking out a mortgage. The policy is ceded to the bank or lender, to cover your mortgage debt if you die before the mortgage is settled. Because cancer survivors often cannot get life insurance, it largely means that they also cannot buy a home. 

NFK spoke to 316 people who have or had cancer and tried to take out a life insurance policy after their diagnosis. Almost two thirds were refused by insurers because they had cancer in the past. And a quarter refused the policy themselves because substantial extra costs were added to the basic premium because of their medical history. This involved hundreds of eruos extra per year.

"People are confronted or the rest of their lives with the fact that they had cancer", NFK director Arja Broenland said to the newspaper. "We find that unacceptable." Early discovery and better treatment options means that the chances of survival for cancer patients increased enormously in the past years. "This means that the group of people living with or after cancer is growing, and so the group of uninsurable people is growing too."

The organization is calling on politicians to amend the law so that cancer survivors can call on the "right to be forgotten" and start on clean slate. 

The Dutch Association of Insurers is happy that the NFK took this matter to politicians. "Every insurer uses its own criteria and rates. But we are not allowed to make agreements within the sector about rates and acceptance criteria", a spokesperson for the association said to the newspaper. That is up to politicians.