Celebrating Breast Cancer Survivors
SCOR is revaluating the way we consider risk
October 22, 2021
For nearly four decades, October has been all about raising awareness of the importance of detecting breast cancer early and celebrating the development of more effective treatment options. However, as a global reinsurer, SCOR knows that the impacts of a breast cancer diagnosis can be felt long after medical treatment has been completed. As part of our ongoing efforts to push back the frontiers of insurability, we recognize the importance of lessening the financial burden that can follow survivors for decades. To this end, SCOR is proud to announce the launch of the Vitae Breast Cancer calculator, which will make it possible to offer more breast cancer survivors the insurance coverage they need.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breast cancer is both the most frequent cancer among women – affecting 2.2 million women worldwide each year – and causes the greatest number of cancer-related deaths in women. Nearly one in eight women will develop some form of breast cancer in their lifetime.
"At SCOR, we believe that we have a moral obligation
to ensure people at high risk can lead normal lives."
Because women with a history of breast cancer have a higher risk of developing a recurrence or a second breast cancer for 15 to 20 years after treatment, they are inevitably riskier to insure. This increased risk translates into higher premiums and deductibles, leaving breast cancer survivors in a precarious financial situation and sometimes forcing them to go without coverage altogether.
At SCOR, we believe that we have a moral obligation to ensure people at high risk can lead normal lives. This is why we are committed to closing the protection gap and providing more accessible, more fairly priced, and more inclusive coverage options to populations that have traditionally been excluded from or priced out of coverage.
Motivated by this belief, a team of SCOR’s medical experts, underwriters, actuaries, and data scientists worked together to develop this new calculator, which enables insurers to better evaluate breast cancer survivors’ individual risk factors and offer coverage to more survivors at fairer rates. Vitae Breast Cancer is the latest addition to our line of Vitae calculators, the first of which was released in January 2021 and focused on cardiovascular disease.
How does Vitae Breast Cancer work?
Because of the complexities and the huge number of variables that must be considered, insurers have historically struggled to understand the actual risk faced by breast cancer survivors. This has made it extremely difficult to determine who could be insured and what would be an appropriate premium. Insurers have often been forced to compensate for this uncertainty by charging high premiums or denying coverage.
Vitae Breast Cancer allows us to do away with the broad generalizations that insurers have relied on for decades and brings our understanding of the risk involved into sharper focus. Rather than applying overarching assumptions to all breast cancer survivors and treating them as if they have the same risk factors and medical history, this calculator makes it possible to define the real risk that each individual faces.
With Vitae Breast Cancer, the applicant’s type of breast cancer (including factors like the size and location of the tumor) is processed by an algorithm that has been built around the SEER database, the world’s largest and most complete database of cancer statistics.
Vitae Breast Cancer is then able to determine the risk of developing cancer again, which allows insurers to more accurately gauge if they can provide coverage and enables them to offer the fairest rate possible.
What does Vitae Breast Cancer mean for breast cancer survivors?
The primary purpose of Vitae Breast Cancer is to determine a premium that better reflects the actual risk presented by the applicant’s medical history. In some cases, this means that applicants who would have been rejected through traditional underwriting approaches will now qualify for coverage. In other cases, applicants will see lower premiums that reflect their actual risk profile.
"Our hope is that even women facing higher risk
will be offered conditions better tailored
to their medical and financial needs."
Because the severity of the cancers and the likelihood of recurrence can differ significantly, not all women with a history of breast cancer will be able to benefit from a standard rate. However, our hope is that even women facing higher risk will be offered conditions better tailored to their medical and financial needs.
For example, thanks to this calculator, a 40-year-old woman who was treated for breast cancer (type T1bN0M0 Grade SBR 2) when she was 35 and who does not present other risk factors (smoking, obesity, etc.) can be offered insurance at the standard rate. Previously, she might have faced paying a loading premium, an additional premium commonly required by insurers in order to protect themselves when offering coverage to higher risk applicants. With the Vitae Breast Cancer calculator, she is effectively viewed in the same way as someone who has never had cancer.
The benefits for the applicant are clear, but this is also good news for SCOR’s partner insurers. Implementing Vitae Breast Cancer means they gain valuable insight into applicants’ profiles and can more confidently absorb the real rate of risk associated with offering coverage to breast cancer survivors.
Vitae Breast Cancer is universal
Vitae Breast Cancer was developed as an API that can easily be implemented with digital underwriting solutions from our insurance partners around the world. It is regularly updated to reflect medical advances and breakthroughs in understanding the behavior of breast cancer.
In addition, the API format means that it possible to set up a faster and simpler insurance solution that no longer requires a tedious medical screening process to determine eligibility.
Vitae Breast Cancer is embedded in SCOR’s existing underwriting assessment guide, SOLEM. Our insurer partners can therefore take advantage of this improved insurance solution to ensure that it benefits as many breast cancer survivors as possible, while justifying their pricing decisions through a transparent process. Our ambition is to continue to develop similar Vitae calculators for other cancers and chronic diseases as we push for more inclusive insurance for all.
For the time being, it is important to recognize that today marks a milestone in this ongoing journey, and at SCOR we are taking the time to celebrate the progress Vitae Breast Cancer represents for breast cancer survivors.
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