Protection Products

Ask an Underwriter: What is Cognitive Impairment?


Protection

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

How You Can Turn Tax Reform Savings Into Income


Protection

Tax season is here. And with tax reform in place, this season could be a game-changer. What do I mean? Well, your clients could be saving thousands of dollars on their income taxes. Now’s your chance to help them use it wisely. 

 

Take a look at the chart below. I’m not a tax expert, but I estimate a married couple with a combined income of $250,000 and two kids could save more than $7,000 with the new tax code. 

TAX-REFORM-BILL-INFOGRAPHIC.jpg (1)

What if you took that money and used it to purchase a tax-advantaged financial instrument? 

 

Cash value life insurance can not only give clients protection during their working years, but it can also create a supplemental, tax-free retirement income stream for their future. It may sound complicated, but it’s not. You’re simply taking one tax advantage to create another – and your clients don’t lose any net household income. You can watch a great video  that better explains the concept. 

 

There are other uses too. Today’s insurance products offer flexibility and coverage for things like long-term care or chronic illness. If you missed it, watch the replay of the webinar  we did on this topic. 

 

Bottom line: No matter their situation, you owe it to your clients to explore the possibilities. Before they cash out their tax savings, you should check out the options available with life insurance. Give me a call – no matter the question, no matter the need. I’m here to help. 

 

For financial professional use only. Calculations based on married couple with two children, living in Texas (with no income taxes), paying $11,157 in mortgage interest. Actual tax savings will vary. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Ash Brokerage and its representatives do not provide tax or legal advice. Consult a tax or legal professional.

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Why You Must Resolve to Manage Risk in 2018


Protection

It's been a great run in the equity markets. If you manage money, business has been good. Your assets under management are likely at an all-time high. You’re starting the year with a nice recurring revenue stream. Life is good – or is it? 

 

Well, life insurance isn’t all good. It’s somewhat of a pun, but in all seriousness, risk management products have taken a back seat to AUM. Who wants to talk about death, getting sick or running out of income in this market? Not many people. 

 

Let’s face it, most of your time is spent on asset allocation, rebalancing, tax management, seeking alpha, low-cost, etc., etc., etc. By the time you’re done with all that, the risk management strategy can wait for the next meeting. You can get to it another time … your clients are fine, right?! 

 

For now. Unless you know something I don't, everyone has a 100 percent chance of not being fine forever.  

 

When, not if!

What if you put the risk management conversation at the forefront of your conversations this year? Actually have a heart-to-heart discussion about the risks in life. I’m not talking about death insurance conversations, I’m talking about living insurance conversations.

 

You need to plan for WHEN something will happen, not if. You need to talk about risk – extended health care, chronic illness, disability, outliving income and, yes, death – at every client meeting. 

 

To put it bluntly: You cannot call yourself a financial advisor, wealth manager or any other term that implies “holistic” planner unless you have a strategy around risk management. 

 

Resolve to Manage Risk

No more excuses. Make 2018 the year you become a "When it happens" advisor. To clarify, I don't think your clients must buy or own insurance coverage. But I do think you need to help them set a plan for action for WHEN one of life’s risks happens to them.  

 

Take the pressure off yourself and just have a conversation with the clients you serve. This isn't about product, or features or price. Tell them that you simply care enough to make a plan. When you do this, I bet your business will grow, your clients will be happier and you will know more about them than you do now. 

 

And yes, I imagine a few folks will want to transfer some of that risk away from their own balance sheet. If they want to know what that looks like, that's when you call us. And we’ll answer. 

Risk Management Life Insurnace Long Term Care Linked Benefit Retirement Disability Income Financial Planning Wealth Management

Top 5 Reasons Spouses Need Life Insurance


Protection

Being a spouse is about more than being married. It’s about providing unconditional love, friendship and support – both emotionally and financially. It’s easier to focus on emotional support, but financial support can also create invaluable peace of mind. With life insurance, it also demonstrate love beyond measure. 

To that point, are the top five reasons you should talk to your married clients about life insurance: 

  1. Someone depends on them. No matter what, having a spouse means someone depends on you. Regardless of whether both spouses working, and regardless of who the bread winner is, life insurance will play an important role in a time of great need. 

  2. They likely have debt. Whether it’s a mortgage, car loan, credit card bills, medical expenses etc., a death benefit can provide a lump sum to eliminate these debts and alleviate worry for the surviving spouse. 

  3. They may have kids. Enough said, right? We all want to be sure our children will be taken care of no matter what happens to us.   

  4. They may have a business. If a business owner dies without proper insurance and planning in place, their spouse will likely have the burden of going into business with the remaining partners or holding a fire sale to settle debt. 

  5. They will definitely have final expenses. Funeral and burial costs can amount to thousands of dollars. Without life insurance, the surviving spouse and family will likely be left with a great financial burden on top of their grief. 


Put it in Practice

If your clients are married, you now have five great conversations starters to have the talk about life insurance. Be sure every spouse has the coverage they need – because someone is depending on them … and they are depending you!

 

About the Author

Sharlene Woerther is passionate about addressing the universal need for protection with insurance. As an Ash Brokerage RVP, she helps agents enhance their practice by uncovering and addressing their clients’ concerns with sensible and impactful solutions. With more than 28 years of experience, she has expertise in underwriting, case design and advanced planning. 

Life Insurance spouses

Ask an Underwriter: Cervical Cancer


Protection

Know the impact on health and underwriting

Cervical cancer may be one of the most treatable and preventable cancers out there, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t worry about it. Education is important – not only for prevention and early detection, but also for underwriting. 

According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC), each year, an estimated 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and one-third will die as a result. So even though the overall risk of cervical cancer has declined over the last few decades, it’s still a serious issue. 

Causes of cervical cancer

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common infection known to cause cell changes on the cervix that can lead to cervical cancer. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States – so common, in fact, nearly all sexually active men and women will get it at some point in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control

Cervical cancer is preventable

Insuring Cervical Cancer

When it comes to insurance, your clients’ participation in regular Pap screenings not only helps reduce the risk of advanced cancer, it may also be viewed as a credit during the underwriting process. 

Earlier detection and successful treatment rates have also increased the insurability of individuals with a history of cervical cancer. Someone with a low-grade diagnosis can potentially secure a non-rated offer, and someone with a high-grade/early stage diagnosis could qualify for rated offers within a year, and possibly standard rates after three years. 

With so many variables involved – from the diagnosis/treatment details to carrier risk assessment – we’ve created a comprehensive questionnaire to assist you in your fact-finding efforts. 

No matter the situation, we encourage you to ask questions and get all the facts. Have a specific question? Check out the resources below or drop me a line and we'll be happy to help.

 

Learn More


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 truly yield winning solutions!  

 

life insurance underwriting ask an underwriter cancer cervical cancer