Cancer risks among firefighters
Cancer is a known threat for firefighters—in fact, the Firefighter Cancer Support Network reports that:
- Cancer caused 66% of the career firefighter line-of-duty deaths from 2002 to 2019.
- Firefighters have a 9% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14% higher risk of dying from cancer than the general U.S. population.
- Firefighters' risks are significantly higher for some specific types of cancer than the general population, including being 2x more at risk for testicular cancer and mesothelioma.
How insurance can help firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer
While insurance may not be able to prevent cancer, it can help support those who are diagnosed by offering financial benefits to firefighters and their families to help offset the associated costs. There are individual insurance products that offer benefits like these, for example Critical Illness coverage, but there are also state-wide initiatives that require this important coverage.
How this is being addressed through legislation
Because of the extreme threat cancer poses to those in the fire service, individual states, including New York, Delaware, North Carolina and Alabama, have begun to formally address this risk by passing legislation requiring fire departments, districts and companies to provide cancer-related benefits for firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer or die from cancer.
How insurance agents + brokers can help institute cancer coverage in their state
"One way that insurance professionals can help their local firefighters is by looking for opportunities to provide truly meaningful coverages and advocate for their best interests—and we're here to help," says Keith Brandstedter, President of Glatfelter Specialty Benefits and Regional Vice President of VFIS.
For example, Doug Salter and Kristin Scholl from our VFIS Mid-Atlantic Regional Director office heard about our state-specific cancer coverage initiatives in 2019 and thought that something similar may work in Delaware.
"As well-respected insurance professionals in the state, they were able to help give us access to the top legislation and insurance players in Delaware—which allowed us to work directly with the state to help craft legislation.
"Once the legislation was created, we worked with our global A.M. Best "A" rated carrier to develop a compliant product—and, ultimately, due to Doug and Kristin's proactive approach, we were able to provide benefits to all of the 4,750 responders who were eligible."
Other ways insurance may be able to help firefighters reduce their cancer risks
Insurance providers who specialize in emergency services may also offer value-added services to help firefighters institute fire prevention best practices within their organization. For example, at VFIS and Glatfelter, we believe our duty goes far beyond offering an insurance policy. That's why we're proud to offer holistic solutions, including in-person classes, online resources + training opportunities, specially designed around what keeps emergency responders' up at night, including cancer prevention.
We thank you for interest in supporting and advocating for the emergency responders in your community—and hope we can work together to continue to be reliable allies for hometown heroes.