Lynn W. May, 59, a chartered life underwriter who was a general agent with the Provident Life and Accident Insurance Co., died of cancer Sunday at Fairfax Hospital. He was a resident of Potomac.

Mr. May came to this area from his native Michigan in 1958. He had worked for Provident Life for the past 10 years. Prior to that, he had been an agent for the Philadelphia Life Insurance Co., and the Monarch Life Insurance Co. in Washington.

He was elected president of the D.C. chapter of the American Society of Chartered Life Underwriters in 1971, and also was a past-president of District of Columbia Life Underwriters Association.

Mr. May was a life and qualifying member of the Million Dollar Round Table and was the 1980-81 recipient of the Bernard L. Wilner award of the District of Columbia Life Underwriters Association.

He was an officer of the District of Columbia estate planning council and the Association for the Advancement of Life Underwriters.

He was a member of Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax. He had done volunteer work for the Salvation Army.

Mr. May was an officer with the Army Air Forces, serving in Europe and the Pacific, in World War II. He also served with the Air Force during the Korean conflict. He was a graduate of Kalamazoo College in Michigan.

Survivors include his wife, Phyllis A., and a son, Eric L., both of Potomac, and a sister, Carol Graham of Bronson, Mich.