New code of practice gives cancer survivors better access to mortgage protection

Insurance Ireland has developed a new code of practice to give better access to mortgage protection insurance to cancer survivors, many of whom have been refused cover until now.

Every year, around 44,000 people in Ireland get diagnosed with cancer, and nearly everyone has been affected by the disease, either personally or through close family and friends. 

However, until now, those that survive the disease would frequently be denied access to mortgage protection insurance, hampering their ability to get a mortgage.

To amend this situation, Insurance Ireland has created a new code of practice that  will make mortgage protection insurance more accessible to cancer survivors, going above and beyond what is being drafted at a European level.

In this article, we’ll break down the details of the announcement, and what it could mean to you. 

How will this new code of practice help cancer survivors?

The new Code offers new exemptions to cancer survivors, where insurers will not factor in a previous cancer diagnosis into your premium. Insurance Ireland, the representative body for the industry in Ireland, formulated the new code. 

All seven of the main life insurance firms in Ireland have signed up to the new code of practice: Acorn Life, Aviva Life & Pensions, Irish Life, Laya Healthcare, New Ireland Assurance, Royal London and Zurich Life Assurance.

The exemptions are as follows:

  • If your cancer treatment ended seven years before your application for mortgage protection, an insurer will disregard your previous cancer diagnosis.
  • If you were diagnosed with cancer when you were under 18, this period is reduced to five years.
  • Up to €500,000 will be provided in cover per cancer-surviving applicant on a mortgage on a principal primary residence.

The figure of €500,000 is justified by Insurance Ireland because, according to data from their members, 90% of life cover linked to a mortgage is under this amount. 

What is their definition of recovery?

Recovery, or complete remission, will need to be determined by your oncologist. Any signs or symptoms relating to your original diagnosis will need to be totally absent. This can be “determined by, but not limited to, physical examination, radiological investigation and serum biomarkers.”

Where treatment is concerned, you are deemed out of ‘active treatment’. The term ‘active treatment’ is defined as:

“...the use of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, biological agents, immunotherapy, bone marrow transplant or any evidence-based medical approaches to cure a cancer. These therapies may have been employed in both the primary (adjuvant and neoadjuvant) settings and secondary setting. The term "active treatment" excludes anti-hormonal medications or any form of preventative therapy or medicine designed to reduce recurrence risk following complete remission.”

When does this new code come into force?

The new code has been implemented since December 6th 2023. 

It will then be reviewed in January 2025, to ensure the new code of practice is being implemented properly. 

What happens if I’m still refused protection?

Unfortunately, some cancer survivors may still be refused cover by insurers. 

However, there are still options for those denied cover, but would like a mortgage. 

There is an exemption in the Consumer Credit Act 1995 which allows lenders to waive the requirement for mortgage protection insurance. 

This comes into play when:

  • The applicant is over 50 years old; or
  • Where a mortgage seeker has been refused cover by at least two insurers 
  • Or where a mortgage seeker is only able to get cover at a premium significantly higher than that payable by borrowers generally

According to the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), around 2% of mortgages are granted using this waiver.

Remember, here at, we have a team of qualified financial advisors (QFAs) who are willing to help with any queries relating to mortgages or mortgage protection, so get in touch if you are struggling to find cover. 

Will this new code of practice increase premiums for everyone else?

No, these changes will not make mortgage protection more expensive for the rest of the population.

This is because the insurers will disregard a diagnosis after a certain period, rather than adding it to the risk pool.

Get your mortgage protection through

Our free and easy-to-use mortgage protection insurance service allows you to compare the best value policies from Ireland’s leading insurers

You can apply for cover online and then a member of our insurance team will guide you through the rest of your application, from start to finish. You can learn more in our mortgage protection Quickstart Guide

If you have yet to start the mortgage application process, you can find the best rates and apply for a mortgage through our free mortgage broker service.

Don’t forget, lenders also require that you have home insurance in place before drawing down your mortgage. The good news is you can get home insurance on too!

Read more

To learn more about mortgage protection, check out our Quick Start guide to find an overview of the product and find links to our other mortgage protection guides.

For more news on insurance and mortgages, remember to visit our blog.

Listen to our interview with Insurance Ireland CEO, Moyagh Murdoch, where we discuss everything home insurance and underinsurance.

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