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Ask an Underwriter: What should I know about breast cancer?


Do you know somebody with Breast Cancer? It’s highly likely that you or somebody you know has been diagnosed with breast cancer at some point.  


The Facts

In 2017 alone, it is estimated that more than 300,000 new cases of invasive/non-invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the United States; this does not include the more than 3.1 million women who are currently being treated or have completed treatment. And, it’s not just women who are affected. A man has a 1 in 1,000 risk of developing breast cancer; in 2017, nearly 2,500 men will be diagnosed with this disease.1


A diagnosis of breast cancer is not a death sentence. There continues to be a decline in deaths from breast cancer every year, thanks to early detection and improvements in treatment. Breast cancer cannot be prevented, but early detection is paramount. Mammography continues to improve and is the gold standard for breast cancer screening because it can detect breast cancer up to two years before a tumor can be felt by you or your doctor.  


Family History

Genetic testing has played a huge role with early detection in those individuals with a family history of breast cancer. Abnormal BRCA1/2 genes accounted for 1 out of every 10 cases of breast cancer. If you have been found to have BRCA1/2 mutation, you have an 80 percent risk of developing breast cancer during your lifetime. These mutations are rare in the general public, but testing should be considered when there is a strong family history of breast cancer.2



What does this all mean for your clients’ chances of securing life insurance? The continued increase in survival with breast cancer has resulted in lower mortality rates. Carriers are continually re-evaluating their manuals when it comes to breast cancer, giving more survivors the opportunity to secure affordable life insurance.  


Still, many factors need to be taken into consideration for underwriting. Ash Brokerage is here to help.  To help assist you in gathering the needed information, Ash has developed a Breast Cancer Client Questionnaire. Give our experienced underwriting staff a call to discuss your case.  


Learn More, U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics:


2American Cancer Society, “Breast Cancer Risk Factors You Cannot Change”:


Breast Caner Underwriting Questionnaire:


About the Author

With the majority of her 20-year brokerage insurance career spent as an underwriting advocate to a diverse customer base, Kim Schrass has built long-lasting partnerships throughout the industry. The depth of her knowledge coupled with her competitive spirit of winning have earned her significant credibility among her customers and peers alike. 

Underwriting Breast Cancer

5 Opportunities Sitting in Your Book of Business


About a year ago, I gave a presentation on linked benefit solutions for a group of top advisors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I started by asking, “How many of you have written a linked benefit case or think you have at least five clients who fit the profile for a linked benefit solution?” Only three advisors raised their hands …

But, as I walked through my presentation, many of them started writing on the handouts I provided. I explained that as our clients age, their needs and goals change as well. With a linked benefit solution, they can leverage a pool of benefits for long-term care if their health becomes compromised, or they can provide a death benefit for their beneficiaries if they don’t need care. Plus, many clients can use existing assets to fund these solutions! I gave the advisors several examples.

At the end of my presentation, I asked the same question … This time, every advisor in the room raised their hand!

I challenged the advisors to find at least one existing client who fits each scenario I discussed – I challenge you to do the same. If you have just one client to fit each of the profiles below, you can take your practice to a new level while helping your clients protect their retirement nest eggs.

You probably have a client who …

  1. Has an existing cash value life insurance policy
  2. Is taking required minimum distributions they don’t need for income
  3. Has an existing nonqualified annuity they don’t need for income
  4. Who says, “If I need care, I will spend down some of the money I have sitting idle at the bank (CDs, excess savings, etc.)”
  5. Has qualified funds they don’t need for income

If you have clients who fit any of the above scenarios, you have opportunities for linked benefit solutions within your existing book of business. Isn’t it much easier to talk with a client who already trusts you rather than going out and positioning a solution to a prospect that you haven’t yet built a relationship with?!

Help your clients “repurpose” an existing asset in order to protect the rest of their portfolio. Your LTC Marketing Team at Ash Brokerage is ready to help you implement linked benefit solutions within your practice. We’ll help you grow your book of business and protect everything your clients have worked so hard to accumulate over their working years.

About the Author

Mickey Belt has been in the insurance industry for about four years and has been able to assist many advisors with incorporating LTC planning in their practices. He views LTC planning as a value-added service that advisors can provide to their clients to protect their assets. Mickey is currently working his way through the Financial Services Certified Professional® designation through The American College.

Ask an Underwriter: Are Breast Cancer Survivors Able To Get Life Insurance?


With an estimated 2.8 million women with a history of breast cancer in the United States and 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer to be diagnosed in 2016 alone, there is a very high probability you will be faced with protecting a breast cancer survivor in the future if you haven’t already.  


As a result of increased preventative screening – including regularly performed breast self-exams, routine mammograms, discovery of genetic predisposition testing and advancement in treatments – early detection is naturally higher. For that reason, many life insurance carriers have improved underwriting guidelines, leading to decreased postponement periods and more favorable ratings for clients with a history of breast cancer.


Underwriting Breast Cancer 

The key to successfully insuring your breast cancer survivor is understanding what information is important to enable your underwriting team to find the very best solution. 

  • Stage of the breast cancer
  • Date the cancer was diagnosed
  • Type(s) of treatment
  • Date of last treatment  


Additional questions that may help in your assessment: 

  • What was specific type of breast cancer? (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ/DCIS or Lobular Carcinoma In Situ/LCIS)
  • Any lymph node involvement?
  • Any metastasis (spreading of the cancer to other areas in the body)?   
  • Any relapses?
  • Any medications currently being taken? 
  • Family history of breast cancer? If so, any genetic testing? 


Additionally, one of the most important pieces of information will be whether or not the client is in full remission/cancer-free and when (month/year). The longer they have been cancer free, with regular follow-up and testing, the more favorable their offer may be.   


Postponement Period

For life insurance carriers to give consideration of someone who has a history of breast cancer, they must fully complete treatment (surgery, radiation, chemo) and often undergo a specific waiting period referred to as a postponement period (which varies based on stage of breast cancer). If they are past the initial waiting period, and they are taking hormonal therapy, such as Tamoxifen, Arimidex, etc., as part of their treatment plan, there would not be an additional postponement/waiting period for consideration. Everything will still depend on the stage of the breast cancer, type of treatment, and date of last treatment.   


Let Ash Brokerage assist you with your next breast cancer case – to simplify your fact-finding process, use our Breast Cancer Client Questionnaire and reach out to us for help. We leverage our experience, carrier relationships and resources to identify viable solutions based on your client’s individual circumstances and insurance needs.  



On March 11, 2016, Kristina Alderdice lost her 10-year battle with breast cancer and we lost a sister of our Ash Brokerage Family. Kristina’s legacy lives on in all of our cherished memories and through her mission at Hope in a Handbag . The organization supports mastectomy patients with a necessities bag, which gives supplies and information to aid in their recovery, and also provides a resource for surgeons and nurses to improve communication with patients about the challenges of major surgery. To date, Hope in a Handbag has distributed more than 2,000 bags to women in northeast Indiana.


Learn More


About the Author

Julie’s unwavering passion and dedication for risk advocacy promotes lasting partnerships while driving impactful results for all stakeholders, from our agents to our carriers. She leverages her 20 years of industry experience with her relational approach to ensure you experience the Ash difference.


UW underwriting breast cancer cancer

How Critical is Critical Illness Coverage?


October is Critical Illness awareness month … But are we really aware? 

The story always begins the same way: “I have a friend/family member who had … (insert catastrophic illness) …” The next thing you typically hear is how that debilitating illness has left the friend or family member in dire straits. It’s heartbreaking, but unfortunately, the same scenarios keep playing over and over again. 

These events cause more than emotional and physical pain; they can also cause financial pain. If you couldn’t work due to a major medical crisis, you’d potentially be left with a mortgage, car payment, credit card bills, utilities and medical bills … and no way to pay for them. With critical illness insurance, however, you could have cash to cover those expenses so you could focus on your health and recovery. 

My family’s story starts the same way: My grandmother was a healthy, 50-something-year-old woman who never had anything majorly wrong with her … then one day, she dropped. She had a hemorrhagic stroke, brought on by a burst brain aneurysm. After several surgeries, and a lot of close calls, she survived, but had multiple complications that impeded her ability to work again. She basically lost her ability to function as an adult. We had to teach her to feed and dress herself, write her name, even to speak. It was a very hard, very frustrating phase in her life. 

Before my grandmother’s stroke, she was an incredibly independent woman, living life and enjoying her grandchildren. After the stroke, she was reduced to an adult trapped in a toddler’s body. She couldn’t do anything for herself. Aside from the emotionally crippling incident, my grandfather was taxed with paying for her medical bills. They piled up quite quickly with weeks in the hospital, several surgeries, a few ICU stays and then months in rehabilitation. Once she was home, there were multiple weekly visits to physical therapy. 

Unfortunately, my grandparents did not have critical illness insurance. They were of the mindset that they would just pay cash whenever anything major happened. Thankfully, they were great savers, but not having extra protection was a tremendous burden to them. 


Put it in Practice

Information is powerful. Had my grandparents known this was going to happen, they could have properly insured my grandmother. Of course, we can never predict the future. That’s why it’s extremely important for us to get the word out about critical Illness insurance, and how critical it can be, not just in October, but every day.   


Meghan Cormany’s focus within the Disability Marketing team is to find available coverage for tricky medical cases. She has worked exclusively with Ash’s Disability Marketing Team for more than seven years, so she brings experience and knowledge of individual and business-related disability products and case design, along with medical underwriting with our carriers. 


Underwriting Breast Cancer: Results could be better than expected


Breast Cancer: two simple words that significantly impact the lives of millions of people – men, women, young and old have all been affected in some way by this type of cancer. 

With approximately 1 in every 8 women and 1 out of 1,000 men in the United States developing invasive breast cancer over the course of her/his lifetime, the impact is far-reaching. While the prevalence remains high, the death rate associated with breast cancer has decreased by 34 percent since 1990. Higher survival rates are attributed to improved treatment and early detection. 

This decrease in mortality is great news for the life insurance industry, as it has led to more favorable risk assessment outcomes with increased insurability and reduced additional table rating and/or flat extra charges. We see a varying risk philosophy among our carriers, often the result of proprietary underwriting manuals, use of multiple reinsurance manuals and exercising crediting programs to offset debits. 

The improvements referenced above now result in many clients qualifying for Standard/Non-Rated coverage within a few years of treatment, and clients with very select types of early stage breast cancer possibly qualifying for as favorable as Standard Plus to Preferred with case-by-case consideration.  

To help secure the right details from your clients with breast cancer, you can use the Ash Brokerage Breast Cancer Questionnaire, which gives an overview of the information needed for underwriting. 

With so many variables involved – from the diagnosis/treatment details to carrier risk assessment – we invite you to leverage the experience of your Ash Brokerage Underwriting Team. We look forward to assisting you on your next breast cancer case. 

If you get a chance, we hope you’ll support Kristina Alderdice, one of own Ash Brokerage survivors, in a project she holds close to her heart. Read about Hope in a Handbag at – a $50 donation provides a bag containing supplies to a mastectomy patient recovering from surgery. 

With the majority of her 25-year brokerage insurance career spent as an underwriting advocate to a diverse customer base, Rebecca Black has built far-reaching partnerships throughout the industry. The tenacity of her passion, coupled with the depth of her knowledge and creative approach, has earned her recognition as an expert among her peers and customers alike.