A new code of practice governing the underwriting of mortgage protection insurance for cancer survivors is to be implemented from December.

The code, announced earlier this year, will see insurers disregard a cancer diagnosis where treatment ended more than seven years before the application.

In cases where the applicant was under 18 at the time of diagnosis, the period will be 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 document includes definitions of what constitutes "complete remission" and "active treatment", both of which have been defined by an independent oncologist and independent actuary.

Complete remission will be decided by a cancer survivor's treating oncologist and includes the absence of signs and symptoms related to a cancer diagnosis which may be decided by, but not limited to, physical examination, radiological investigation and serum biomarkers.

While active treatment represents the use of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, biological agents, immunotherapy, bone marrow transplant or any evidence-based medical approaches to cure a cancer.

The code was developed by Insurance Ireland following discussions with the Irish Cancer Society, which highlighted that many cancer survivors are not able to get life cover they need to buy a home.

"Insurance Ireland and its members believe that the code will lead to a faster, more streamlined process for those impacted," the industry body said.

"They see the approach as a pragmatic solution that appropriately balances the needs of cancer survivors without causing a reduction in availability of cover for other consumers."

Seven of the main life cover companies who are all members of Insurance Ireland have backed the initiative, including Acorn Life, Aviva Life & Pensions, Irish Life, Laya Healthcare, New Ireland Assurance, Royal London and Zurich Life Assurance.

Other non-members of the body are also free to sign up to the code.

An implementation date of 6 December has been set.

Insurance Ireland has also appointed an external reviewer to make sure that the code is being implemented and adhered to.

An initial review will take place in one year after implementation, with another following in 2028, and then every three years after that.

The reviews will also include a revisiting of the code itself, including its definitions.

Insurance Ireland said its members are mindful of the impact that a declined application can have on a cancer survivor.

"As such, insurers were keen to play their part in developing an improved outcome for these customers, while also keeping in mind the needs and expectations of the entire customer base," it said.

The body said there will unfortunately be cases where no insurer can offer life cover to a cancer survivor.

But when this happens it does not mean cancer survivors cannot get a mortgage as there is an exemption in the Consumer Credit Act 1995 that lenders can apply under certain circumstances.

On an annual basis, around 2% of mortgage approvals have been granted the waiver.