Does your trauma insurance policy cover skin cancer?
Trauma insurance covers us for all kinds of diseases and ailments, but did you know select life insurance companies also cover skin cancers? It all depends on how your life insurance company defines 'cancer', 'skin cancer' and 'melanoma'.
- Skin cancers and melanomas account for 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers.
- Two in three Australians are typically diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70 (1).
- Melanoma is the most common cancer in people aged 15-44 years (1).
- More than 200,000 Australians are treated for skin cancer each year thanks to modern medicine and early detection.
- Survival rates for many common cancers has increased by more than 30% in the past two decades.
The survival rate of skin cancer is why trauma insurance is so important. A trauma insurance claim can help fund medical costs and pay for bills while you have time off work to recover.
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer occurs when skin cells are damaged, for example, by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Between 95 and 99% of skin cancers in Australia are caused by exposure to the sun.
The risk of skin cancer is increased for people who have:
- increased numbers of unusual moles
- fair skin, a tendency to burn rather than tan, freckles, light eye colour, light or red hair colour
- previously had skin cancer.
Skin cancer types
Types of skin cancer include:
- melanoma - the most dangerous form of skin cancer
- basal cell carcinoma*
- squamous cell carcinoma*
*Both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are known as non-melanoma types of skin cancer.
Diagnosis & treatment of skin cancer
Skin cancer is a disease all Australians should take precautions against. With summer upon us, we should all be using sunscreen, hats and appropriate sun protection clothing to help prevent skin cancer.
Keep an eye out for skin cancer symptoms likeÂ new or changing moles, freckles or skin markings. Skin markings may include any crusty, non-healing sores; or skin cancer symptoms like small lumps that are red, pale or pearly in colour. A yearly skin cancer check with a skin clinic or your GP can also help detect any possible skin cancer or tumours as they arise. If you doctor suspect's skin cancer, they may perform a biopsy (remove a small sample of tissue for examination under a microscope).
If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, the cancer is almost always removed. If your skin cancer is more advanced, some of the surrounding tissue may also be removed to make sure that all of the cancer cells have been taken out. Common skin cancers can be treated with ointments or radiation therapy. They can also be removed with:
- surgery (usually under a local anaesthetic),
- cryotherapy (using liquid nitrogen to rapidly freeze the cancer off),
- curettage (scraping) or
- cautery (burning).
How do trauma insurance policies define skin cancer?
If an insurer does cover skin cancer, it is typically under their 'cancer definition'; however conditions and/or exclusions usually do apply. Trauma insurance which covers skin cancer under the 'cancer definition' may result in full payment.
Select insurers may also have an additional 'melanoma' or 'skin cancer' definition; though these are only typically covered in 'trauma plus' policies at additional cost. Again, these extra definitions will typically have conditions and/or exclusions placed on them. Trauma 'plus' policies may cover melanomas under the 'melanoma definition', although it may only result in partial payment. If you have a family history of cancer or skin cancer, then a plus trauma policy may be beneficial.
To be able to make a skin cancer claim under a trauma insurance policy, most product disclosure statement's (PDS's) state that you must have a malignant melanoma tumour of at least Clark Level 3 OR size equal to or greater than 1.5mm thickness; unless cancer has spread to other organs.
All non-melanoma cancers are usually not covered, unless there is evidence that the cancer has spread to other organs.
Typical cancer definitions may include exclusions like the following:
- Excludes non-melanomas cancers originating in the skin unless there is evidence of metastatic spread.
- Excludes malignant melanomas which are both less than Clark Level 3 OR less than 1.5mm thickness as determined byÂ histological examination.
With the above example definitions and exclusions in mind, it is obvious that definitions vary between each insurer. It would be well worth it to carefully examine the trauma insurance definitions in your PDS and discuss them with an xLife adviser.
Find out if your trauma insurance policy covers skin cancer
To find out if your trauma insurance policy covers skin cancer, contact an xLife adviser today. Our advisers know which policies offer better cancer, and skin cancer definitions to help maximise your trauma cover benefits in the event you need to make a claim.
1. Cancer Council of Australia www.cancer.org.au
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