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Introducing Life PreView


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There’s nothing worse than starting a life insurance case, having your client sign the paperwork and waiting 30 days … only to uncover an obstacle in underwriting.

“Oh, I didn’t tell you about that surgery? That medication? That DUI I had a few years ago?” No matter how much your clients trust you, there’s often a tiny – but hugely important – bit of information they forget to share.

When this happens, the last thing you want to do is re-apply with another carrier, or explain to your client why the quote you gave them was way off. We get it. While we can’t give you perfectly healthy clients, we CAN help you see potential roadblocks BEFORE they become a setback.

Private. Convenient. Secure.

With Life PreView, you email your clients a personalized, secure questionnaire to get an accurate snapshot of their health history. It will ensure you have the right product, with the right carrier, quoted at the right price – no awkward conversations, frustrating delays or reselling needed.

Your clients can complete the questionnaire in their own home, at their own convenience. They just need the following handy:

  • Current medication information, including the name(s) and dosage
  • List of any medical procedures, including dates, within the last 10 years
  • List of any driving violations (speeding tickets, accidents, DUIs, etc.), including dates, within the last three years

Life PreView

Stop looking for perfectly health clients and start looking for perfectly set expectations. When you use Life PreView, you’ll ensure accurate pricing, faster placement and, more importantly, happier clients. Try it on your next application!  

Try It Now

Access requires logging in to the Ash Brokerage Producer Portal. If you have a password, click here to enter your username and password, and you'll be taken directly to the Filter.

Try It Now

If you have single sign-on, connect through your company page as usual, then click Underwriting, then Preparing Your Clients.

Life PreView Underwriting Screening PreScreen Tools Life Insurance

Crafting an Underwriting Cover Letter


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When applying for a large life insurance case, it all comes down to underwriting. It’s part science, part gut feeling, but the underwriter can’t consider all the facts unless you provide them.

A cover letter can be the key to getting insurance issued. It helps differentiate your case while providing underlying details around financial needs, medical history and lifestyle.

This is your opportunity to influence the underwriter and explain why your client is a good risk to insure. A good cover letter will: 

 

the NeedEXPLAIN THE NEED
What is the purpose(s) for the requested insurance coverage? Paint a clear picture and be detailed.

the NeedJUSTIFY THE AMOUNT
How was the amount of coverage determined? Explain your process and substantiate it.

the NeedEXPLORE FINANCIAL DETAILS
How will the policy be funded? Communicating the complete financial picture is KEY to getting a policy issued and some cases may involve full financial statements.

the NeedDISCLOSE EXISTING COVERAGE
What other in-force and applied-for insurance exists? Include clear ownership and beneficiary designations, amounts, and information on any policies that will be replaced.

the NeedVALIDATE PRODUCT SELECTION
Why did you choose this product? Set the expectation of the quoted rate class and why you chose it.

the NeedREVEAL UNDERWRITING CONSIDERATIONS
What critical lifestyle factors exist? Share the underlying facts up front – favorable or not. It’s better to form an opinion, rather than change the opinion of an underwriter. Include details such as exercise, diet, preventative medical care, and longevity of parents, as well as non-medical items such as foreign travel and avocations. 

the NeedCREATE A CONNECTION
What personal details are relevant? Establish your relationship and don’t be afraid to include commentary on key facts. Make it known this is a good risk to insure.



THINK LIKE AN UNDERWRITER

When reviewing your letter, it’s important to think like an underwriter. Ask these questions one last time:

  1. Is there a clear, insurable interest?
    Life insurance is highly regulated, and the underwriter is on the hook to validate the policy. Make the impact and intent of the policy clear.

  2. Does the coverage make sense?
    The coverage requested should be consistent with what the carrier typically issues, and a good risk for them. If the plan is out of the box, take care to detail how and why.

  3. Can future payments be sustained for the lifetime of the policy?
    Document and explain any mitigating circumstances on negative financial reports or other issues that would lead to an adverse action.

If the insurance is related to a business, the letter needs to extend beyond the basics, including tax forms, an overview of ownership/beneficiary structure, detailed financials and more.

 

CARE: CLIENT ADVOCACY + RISK EVALUATION

Your Ash Brokerage underwriting and case management teams are partners in client advocacy. Each of us has unique roles and talents. But, we’re here for the same reason: We’re in the business of caring.

Every day, we show up and get to work, fighting for your clients. When advisors need strategic problem solvers who go beyond what’s expected, time after time, we’re their first call.

Highly trained and experienced in both medical and non-medical underwriting challenges, our team has a diverse insurance industry background, from brokerage to home office, including an on-staff medical director, a registered nurse and strong relationships with the underwriting teams at insurance carriers.

Give us a try on your next case and see why we don't just process cases - we compete to win.

Underwriting Cover Letter Underwriting Tips CARE advocacy Risk evaluation

Figuring Out Fluidless Underwriting


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This post covers a new tool on the Ash Producer Portal. Log in now to try it for yourself!

Fluidless, accelerated, express, simplified – no matter the words you use, one thing is certain: More and more insurance companies are offering streamlined underwriting processes.

How do you keep track of them all? How do you know if your clients qualify? Well, you don’t have to. We figured it out – so you don’t have to.

Ash Brokerage is proud to introduce the Fluidless Underwriting Filter. We’ve taken the programs and requirements from leading carriers and put them into one easy-to-use tool. In just seconds, you can see if your client qualifies for expedited underwriting. 

Run a Quick Check

  1. Fill out six data points about your client

    FluidlessFilter_screenshot1.jpg

  2. See a list of all potential options – including Ash Brokerage’s top recommendations

    FluidlessFilter_screenshot2.jpg

  3. Compare carriers, qualifications and knockouts side by side
  4. Run a quote or apply immediately – coverage is just a few clicks away!

Place Cases Faster

We see far too many clients going through full underwriting when it’s just not needed. If your clients don’t have major medical issues, there’s a good chance they could qualify for one of these programs – and get insurance in days, not months. Why wouldn’t you check?! You’ll potentially save your clients from the hassle of an exam, and you’ll save your business valuable cycle time.

There’s no exams. No samples. No hassle. No kidding! 

 

Ash Answers

Have questions? Or clients who don’t qualify for fluidless options? We’re here for you! No matter the challenges of your case, our underwriting team is committed to the mission of insuring each client you bring our way. Highly trained and experienced in both medical and non-medical underwriting, we’re your advocates every step of the way. 

 

Try It Now

Access requires logging in to the Ash Brokerage Producer Portal. If you have a password, click here to enter your username and password, and you'll be taken directly to the Filter.

Try It Now

If you have single sign-on, connect through your company page as usual, then click the banner on the homepage (or click Fluidless Underwriting Filter from the Quotes menu).

Underwriting Fluidless Underwriting Filter Accelerated Underwriting Express Underwriting Life Insurance

The Buzz About Marijuana


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Editor's Note: This post was originally published on the Ash Brokerage blog in 2015. To date, it's the most popular post on our website. Why? We think it's because our underwriters aren’t afraid to discuss a challenging and potentially taboo topic that's becoming relevant to more of your clients every single day. The piece below has been updated to reflect changes since the original was posted. If you have any questions or concerns about underwriting, don't be afraid to ask our team! They'll always find an answer.

 

Marijuana use is a hot and evolving topic in life insurance underwriting. For those of us who’ve been around the insurance block a time or two, we can certainly remember the days when any type of marijuana use resulted in an automatic decline. Today, the answer isn’t so cut and dry.

 

To understand the topic, look at today's legal treatment of marijuana:*

  • As of March 2018, 29 U.S. states, plus the District of Columbia, have laws that legalize marijuana in some form

  • Nine states – Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Vermont – as well as D.C., have adopted the most liberal laws, which legalize marijuana for recreation use

  • Several more states are either considering legislation or potential ballot measures in 2018

 

Underwriting Considerations

In recent years, our industry has increased acceptance of applicants using marijuana recreationally and for medicinal purposes. We have seen offers from best class nonsmoker to decline.

 

Minimal use is acceptable with some carriers; while moderate to daily use may result in a decline. Multiple factors impact risk assessment for applicants using marijuana, including:

  • Amount and frequency of marijuana used

  • Method of delivery into the body

  • Underlying condition for which marijuana was prescribed

  • Other potentially related factors: avocations, driving record and occupation

 

Some carriers will offer smoker rate classes to an applicant who smokes marijuana, while others will offer nonsmoker rates if use is minimal and potentially preferred rates if the client otherwise qualifies.

 

Applicants with a valid marijuana prescription to treat symptoms of an impairment may be assessed an additional rating for their impairment. Certain impairments or co-morbid conditions will result in an automatic decline, even if the applicant has a valid prescription or lives in a state which has legalized recreational marijuana.

 

Applicants with a history of alcohol or drug treatments, or applicants currently using multiple recreational drugs, are considered an unfavorable risk. Likewise, applicants with significant mood disorders and past criminal activity are also considered unfavorable.

 

Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, can be derived from hemp or marijuana. CBD products created from marijuana have very high levels of THC, therefore applicants using CBD products created with marijuana will fall under the carrier’s guideline for marijuana use. Applicants using CBD products produced from hemp will not be considered as marijuana users.

 

Other things to note for underwriting:

  • Today’s insurance labs cannot measure quantity of use, nor how the marijuana was delivered into the body

  • Some carriers automatically test for marijuana, while others will reflex the test as deemed necessary

  • Most carriers will request an attending physician statement (APS) and/or copy of the valid prescription for applicants being treated with medical marijuana

 

Business or Employment Considerations

Marijuana sales remain illegal at the federal level, but the marijuana industry is growing like a very profitable weed. According to Tom Adams, managing director of BDS Analytics, national marijuana sales will rise to $11 billion in 2018, and to $21 billion in 2021.*

 

With the federal government still viewing marijuana sales as illegal, almost every insurance carrier will not offer insurance on any employee of a marijuana farm or dispensary, or owners of farms or dispensaries. As of today, only a small handful of traditional life insurance carriers will consider select clients on an individual basis for personal coverage only. 

 

Don’t Let Your Case Go Up in Smoke

Since there are so many variables influencing the underwriting decision for both recreational and medical marijuana users, it’s impossible to recommend a carrier without having all the facts. The good news is at Ash Brokerage, you have a dedicated staff of seasoned underwriters available to answer your questions regarding marijuana usage and assist you every step of the way. We’d welcome the opportunity to talk with you about your client’s specific needs.  

 

Additionally, the Ash Brokerage website has numerous impairment questionnaires, including a marijuana questionnaire, which are useful in evaluating medical, financial or avocation risk. They’ll help you uncover potential issues before collecting a formal application, and ensure your call with your Ash underwriter is productive.

 

About the Author

For more than 34 years, Charlie Kuhn has taken a personal interest in every case. To her, it’s more than a file – it’s a person trying to protect the people they care about, and she can think of no better vocation than to help provide financial and emotional security for others. Through her personal commitment to continuous professional growth, Charlie is one test away from becoming an Associate of the Life Management Institute. She is already an Associate of Customer Service with LOMA, has passed all three of the Academy of Life Underwriting exams, and is certified in EKG interpretation.

 

Learn More

Ash Brokerage Questionnaire: http://go.ashbrokerage.com/WC2018-04-UW-8151_LP-Content.html

*CNN Money, “The U.S. legal marijuana industry is booming,” Jan. 31, 2018: http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/31/news/marijuana-state-of-the-union/index.html

Underwriting Life Insurance Marijuana Medical Marijuana Recreational Marijuana

Ask an Underwriter: What is Cognitive Impairment?


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One of the first questions you’ll see on most life insurance applications is whether or not the applicant has Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or any form of cognitive impairment. In most cases, a “Yes” response is often the precursor to declining your policy. However, understanding these impairments will help get your client full consideration – and potentially a policy in hand.  

 

The word dementia is really just a general term used in describing symptoms caused by disorders of the brain. Symptoms are things like memory loss, or difficulties with thinking, problem solving or language.1 The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Typically, if you have been diagnosed with end-stage dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, the condition has progressed enough that it interferes with activities of daily living. This decline in cognition is severe enough to generally exclude consideration for traditional life insurance plans.

 

Get the Facts

Mild Cognitive impairment or MCI is a decline in memory and personality that could produce alterations in judgment, behavior and language. Mild cognitive impairment is a disorder that presents with measurable memory decline, but the client is able to independently perform all usual activities of daily living successfully. This is not to be confused with basic forgetfulness or not being able to recall a name on occasion. However, it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms. In fact, there are several causes of mild cognitive impairment that are actually reversible. To name just a few: thyroid dysfunction, vitamin deficiency, medication side effects, sleep disorders and even stress.
 

In general, a medical workup for cognitive impairment will include:

  • A thorough review of medical history, where the physician documents current symptoms, previous illnesses and medical conditions, and any family history of significant memory problems or dementia.
  • Assessment of independent function and daily activities, which focuses on any changes from a person's usual level of function.
  • In-office neurological examination to assess the function of nerves and reflexes, movement, coordination, balance and senses.
  • Evaluation of mood to detect depression; symptoms may include problems with memory or feeling "foggy." Depression is widespread and may be especially common in older adults.
  • Laboratory tests, including blood tests and imaging of the brain's structure.

 

If the workup doesn't create a clear clinical picture, the doctor may recommend neuropsychological testing, which involves a series of written or computerized tests to evaluate specific thinking skills.2

 

Underwriting Assessment

To help best negotiate a life insurance offer, we must work together to determine the actual diagnosis and how it was made. We must understand the severity of the client’s symptoms or lack even lack thereof.

 

It’s important to highlight all of the favorable factors. This would include having regular preventative health care and immunizations, as well as compliance with any prescribed medications. You should also make note of a routine that involves gainful employment, regular exercise, hobbies, participation in social activities and the ability to travel or take vacations. It also helps to point out if there are any family members with longevity as well. 

 

What does this all mean for your clients’ chances of securing life insurance? Carriers are continually re-evaluating their manuals when it comes to older age underwriting and cognitive impairment, giving more opportunity to secure affordable life insurance.  

 

Clearly, many factors need to be taken into consideration for underwriting, and Ash Brokerage is here to help. To help assist you in gathering the needed information, we have developed a Cognitive Impairment Questionnaire. Give our experienced underwriting staff a call to discuss your case.  

 

About the Author

Dianne Leidigh has earned an unwavering reputation, among customers and constituents alike, as a respected partner and trusted resource. Through her personal commitment to continuous professional growth, she’s become an Associate of the Life Management Institute, Associate of Customer Service with LOMA, and an Associate of the Academy of Life Underwriting. As Dianne approaches her second decade in the brokerage life insurance industry, much of which dedicated to advocating risk, her passion for helping others, commitment to personal growth, and perseverance continues to yield truly winning solutions!  

 

Learn More

Ash Brokerage Cognitive Impairment Questionnaire: https://ashcmsstorage.blob.core.windows.net/media//Docs/uw/impairment/Mild_Cognitive_Impairment.pdf

1Alzheimer Society Canada, “What is dementia?”: http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/About-dementia/What-is-dementia

2Alzheimer’s Association, “Mild Cognitive Impairment”: https://www.alz.org/dementia/mild-cognitive-impairment-mci.asp

Underwriting Cognitive Impairment Alzheimer's Dementia Life Insurance