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Life Insurance Awareness Month: Focus on Enjoying Life


This summer, my wife Suzanne and I had the opportunity to take our family (six of us in all) to Europe for vacation. Flying in and out of Munich, Germany, we had the opportunity to see much of Bavaria and Austria, and a little of Italy over a 10-day period. 

Given the unrest in different parts of Europe in the months prior, we had some concerns about safety but felt most of the areas we were visiting, while touristy, would be relatively safe. The trip was great, and we all returned home unharmed. But, not 10 days after we arrived home, multiple gunman entered a crowded shopping mall in a northern suburb of Munich and killed more than a dozen people. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these victims.

Suzanne and I love to travel and hope continued unrest in the world will ultimately settle but, until then, we plan to continue visiting other cultures and exploring the globe. My idea of retirement is to have the flexibility in my calendar to be able to leave for a month or two then come back to a rewarding role. And, we’d love to family to join us on these adventures for as long as they’ll have us.

While we can’t control random acts of terror like the shooting in Munich, we can make sure that, should something extraordinary happen, the financial impact of a loss wound not compound the emotional side of such an event. I really look at life insurance as a “peace of mind” tool. I am by no means a risky person, but with my insurance protection in place, I feel free to live my life knowing my family and favorite charities will be taken care of should the unexpected happen. For me, doing otherwise, would be fool-hearty.  

I take a similar stance on health. I try to eat right and work hard on my fitness each day, but there is no way I can predict what’s to come. My mom was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in her late 40s. Is that still ahead for me? My brother, Mike, if fighting colon cancer (and doing very well). 

While I’ve had a successful 30-year career so far, saved well enough to pay for college, and have a good nest egg for retirement, I would see it as financial malpractice if I had not insured my life and future earning power so my wife, my kids, my family and my charities would continue to benefit should some unexpected event befall me. 

I’ve “invested” in disability, long-term care and, most importantly, life insurance. As a result, I’m at peace with being able to complete my financial plans, even if something should happen to me. I’ve also found this level of preparedness has left me with an ability to not “sweat the small stuff” and focus on enjoying life.


About the Author

As executive vice president of life sales distribution, Bob Klein is responsible for all of Ash Brokerage’s life, long-term care and disability income insurance sales. He is driven by his desire to help others get the most out of their natural gifts, and he gets the most satisfaction from seeing others grow and succeed. 

Ask an Underwriter: Why is ‘maintenance’ so important?


I’m a 30-something male, which carries with it several stereotypes. Yes, I enjoy tasting craft beers. Yes, I will play videogames for an entire Saturday if given the chance. Yes, grey hair is invading my goatee. And, no, I will not go to the doctor unless it feels like I have somehow contracted the black plague. 

The bone isn’t poking through the skin so it might not be broken … So what if I’ve had this sinus infection for 10 days? That just means it’s a worthy adversary and victory will be sweeter after I defeat it! (Fist shaking triumphantly) 

Some of us just don’t go to the doctor. Why should we go when we feel fine? We’ll go if we get sick – like, really sick. No news is good news, right? WRONG.

For most people, especially for life insurance applicants, regular office visits and routine screenings are a good thing. 



Think about taking your car in for an oil change. Invariably at the end there’s a quick meeting with the technician where you’re informed of all of their other recommended services, based on the mileage on your car. But, you came in for the $30 oil change – not the $250 tune-up. It’s true your car would benefit from the extra cleanings and flushes, but you can put it off, right? You politely tell the technician, “Next time. I’ll do it next time.” Then you cross your fingers and hope for no engine trouble until then … 

Now, think about the recommended maintenance you should be doing for your health. Maybe you’re 40, so based on your mileage, you could use a PSA and an EKG, and you might even consider a colonoscopy. If your “vehicle” is currently running smoothly, it’s easy to think you can wait until “next time.” But your doctor recommends these screenings for a reason – they can help identify potential problems early and help you avoid any “engine trouble” down the road. 



Imagine a world where your car insurance premiums are based in part on the number of maintenance procedures you’ve completed. If you’ve done them all, you get the most discounts because your insurance company is confident you’re driving a safe car. 

That’s sort of how it works with life insurance. Underwriters want to be confident in your health and are looking for clues to what I would call “the big uglies” – warning signs of major health problems. Our job is to essentially figure out who has the highest likelihood early mortality. So, if I have 20 nearly identical 50-year-olds in front of me, and five of them have had all their “routine maintenance” completed, I’ll put my money (or discount) on those five.  

In a nutshell, screening tests can eliminate some significant concerns in the world of life insurance underwriting. The more concerns an underwriter can eliminate, the better a client’s pricing could become.   


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About the Author

Mick has nearly 18 years of experience in brokerage case management and underwriting. In all that time, he’s seen nearly every manifestation of a “challenging case,” whether it be medical, financial or procedural. He has a passion for problem-solving and making sure all parties understand the “why” of any given challenge. When not underwriting, Mick enjoys movies, golf and coaching little league baseball. 

Perspective from a Pilot’s Wife


As an Air Force wife of more than 30 years, I had a front-row seat on a very special life experience.

My husband flew fighter jets, making him part of an elite group of individuals and me a member of a unique sorority of women, making lifelong friends in the process … friends who became our family away from home. 

We traveled together, moved together and shared many amazing experiences. We had lots of fun and, sadly, our share of tragedy. Flying in high performance jets is risky business; during those 30 years we attended the funerals of quite a few friends. To this day, I can’t see a flyover formation without my knees buckling and a lump rising in my throat.

Carol was the wife of the fire chief on base and every time she’d see me she’d say, “I don’t know how you do it! I could never be the wife of a fighter pilot!” It was true, as pilots’ wives, we faced the unknown on a daily basis. I remember the summer of 1978; within days of each other, two crews on routine flights were lost in separate accidents, killing four men … husbands, sons, fathers and friends.  

That same month, a young airman drowned at a nearby reservoir/recreation area. Another young airman and his wife, who hadn’t been on base more than 24 hours, were killed in a head-on crash right outside the base … his new assignment was at the fire station, reporting to Carol’s husband.  Our base had the dubious distinction of having the largest number of deaths in the whole military that month.

As an F-111, and then F-16, pilot, my husband’s life insurance rating was among the highest and most expensive. But it was worth every penny for he had great peace knowing, if anything happened to him, we would all be taken care of … not just me but also our four children. 

Yes, our family away from home would have been there for me, surrounding us with love and affection while providing the moral support to get through the event. But, financially, we wouldn’t have had to worry about how to pay the bills or whether or not our kids would be able to afford to go to college. All of that would have been taken care of by our insurance.

You don’t have to be a fighter pilot to be at risk of your life; no one is promised tomorrow. But not protecting your family from the unknown is a risk no one should take.


About the Author

Norma Endersby leads the creative force behind Ash Brokerage. As Brand Marketing Director, she manages the Creative Services team, an in-house ad agency serving the company, their sales force and their top-tier partners. Her husband, Gary, served in the U.S. Air Force from 1971-2001. 


3 Ways to Heat Up Your Business


The summer normally brings blazing hot temperatures (especially where I live in Texas!) … but business isn’t usually hot for financial professionals this time of year. Yes, summertime can be a slump for many of us. Your clients probably head out on vacation and are usually too busy with activities to stop for meetings with their advisor. Or maybe you need a break yourself and would like to take some time off with your family. 

But, summer doesn’t have to mean slow, and the adage, “Sell in May and go away,” doesn’t apply everywhere. Now is a great time to take advantage of the opportunities life insurance can bring to your business. Here are three ways you can avoid a summer slump: 

  1. Review Existing Policies

    When was the last time your clients’ coverage was reviewed? Their needs, as well as market offerings, can change with time. The Ash Life Audit team can analyze existing policies to ensure they’re still fulfilling your clients’ goals. We find 65 percent of the strategies we review can be improved by either saving your client money or suggesting a change to keep pace with clients’ changing lives.

    A Life Insurance Portfolio Analysis includes an in-depth overview of your clients’ current coverage along with recommendations for improvements. Best of all, there’s no wet signature required, and we do all the heavy lifting, so you can spend your time in in the sun and let us gather policy information. Go ahead and put us to work so you’re geared up and ready for the fall! 

  2. Focus on Tax Efficiency

    Next April seems so far away … but the sting of watching clients write checks to Uncle Sam last April may still be fresh in your mind. Before you forget about the taxes that whittle away your assets under management every year, consider cash value life insurance as a way to soften the blow. Life insurance can be structured as s a non-correlated asset that limits clients’ downside market risk while providing tax-advantaged growth. For the right client, this strategy makes a world of difference come tax season. Ask your Ash RVP how cash value life insurance can protect your managed assets from tax drag. 

  3. Connect with Your Clients’ Families

    Will your clients be getting together with their families in the summer? Good, that’s the perfect time for them – and you – to talk about the future. Industry studies say most beneficiaries will replace you as an advisor when your client passes away – unless you establish a relationship with them, that is. 

Before they have their next reunion or cookout, suggest your clients share their future plans with their families. By making sure everyone’s on the same page, especially when it comes to long-term care planning, they can avoid future discrepancies and will know you’re the person they can turn to for help. You can offer to come flip burgers, or set a meeting at your office while everyone is in town. By simply starting a conversation, you’ll show the whole family that you care about everyone, not just the primary bread-winner. This simple step will bring you closer to the next generation, and safeguard the business you’ve worked hard to build. 


About the Author

As Regional Vice President for Northern Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, Dave Pergande is responsible for consulting with financial advisors and providing guidance on defensive planning strategies. David joined Ash Brokerage in 2015 because he believes in an unbiased, client-centric approach to financial planning. He established his foundation of values in the long-term care industry as a wholesaler for Lincoln Financial Group.


A Book Lover’s Top 5 Business Books


Markus Zusak is quoted as saying, “Sometimes you read a book so special that you want to carry it around with you for months after you’ve finished just to stay near it.” I actually do this. It’s as if the very act of holding the book near me will transform it into some type of electromagnetic wave and vibrate at a frequency so specific, only I can catch the transmission. 

If you don’t write in your books, I highly encourage you break the rules and do this. Going back to quote an author or cite a source is so much easier when you’ve taken pen to hand and marked it in the book. Not to mention, there is neuroscience backing our ability to remember things more readily when we write them down. The margins in a book are not there to make it look pretty – they are there for you to use them!

As we celebrate Book Lover’s Day, I have five books which have been toted around from city to city, state to state, and even country to country. These books are great for business owners, but the overall finish can quench the desire to learn something new for anyone. In no particular order …


“Lean In: Women, Work, and The Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg

OK, I’m in social media, so I have to start with social media legend Sheryl Sandberg. Not only does she have an amazing first name, but in 2015, I traveled to Facebook and stood outside her office where it says “Sheryl’s Lair” and decided I wanted to know more about this iconic woman. She is the chief operating officer of Facebook, and her “Lean In” is based on her 2010 TED Talk on the ways women are holding back in business … and in life. My favorite line: “The cost of stability is often diminished opportunities for growth.” In other words, be brave, take risks and embrace the unexpected!


“The Motivation Manifesto: 9 Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power” by Brendon Burchard

Oprah has a net worth in excess of $3 billion dollars. If she hires a life coach, you can bet I’m paying attention. I’ve read every Brendon Burchard book, and “The Motivation Manifesto” reaches down to the depths of who you are as a person and starts creating and digging out that gritty human being we all desire to be. His messages center around: Live. Love. Matter. And he’s not kidding. Read this book and you’ll find yourself highlighting a lot of passages. I give this book to a lot of friends who are starting businesses or new jobs to help them start the venture on the best possible footing. My favorite line: “And so let us ask ourselves, ‘What can be done to improve this world that I influence? How can I help others solve problems and achieve their dreams?’” Never underestimate the potential your impact has on the world as a whole. 


“Becoming a Category of One: How Extraordinary Companies Transcend Commodity and Defy Comparison” by Joe Calloway

Do you know I loved this book so much that I stalked the author until he became my friend? True story! I’ve read this book three times now, and I still see new nuggets each time I lay my eyes on Joe’s words. He is an interactive keynote presenter and trainer, helping to develop effective leadership while improving performance. He’s also an all-around great person to know! I highly recommend this book if you’re trying to differentiate yourself from a noisy crowd. My favorite line: “Most companies never get beyond the talking stage of the decision to go.” Embrace your Nike self and just do it!


“The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America” by Ai-Jen Poo

I was strolling down an aisle in my public library when I saw this book sitting on a shelf – it’s a hidden treasure. If you’re in the business of working with older Americans, have clients with older parents, or potentially sell long-term care insurance or hybrid counterparts, you must read this book. Ai-Jen Poo is the co-director of Caring Across Generations and understands the long-term care dilemmas Americans face today. She also tells the story of her grandparents and their caregivers, and how relates it to what will happen in America in just a few short years. My favorite line: “By 2050, the total number of individuals needing long-term care and personal assistance is projected to grow from 12 million to 27 million.” If the average household is dual income and nobody is at home to care full-time for our loved ones, how will we afford the proper care for them?


“Flirting With the Uninterested: Innovating in a ‘Sold, not Bought’ Category” by Maria Ferrante-Schepis and G. Michael Maddock

This is another tale of stalking authors, but the book was too good to not know who wrote it. Today, I’m honored to call Maria and Mike my friends. They truly understand what we are facing in the financial services community when it comes to the looming disruption that awaits. Much like an earthquake lying deep below the fault lines, disruption is waiting to emerge and shake up the industry I cherish working within. The book will put a fire in your belly to no longer accept how business was once done, and you’ll start to grab hold of your voice and desire to help make change a constant in an industry which desperately needs our help. My favorite line: “If today’s consumers identify with your company because they fully understand what you have to sell and you empowered them to make good financial decisions, you will have laid claim to an area of space that nobody owns yet.” In other words, the world in financial services really is your oyster!


These are only five of the approximately 50 beautiful books I’ve read over the last year. Some are oldies but goodies, and others may sound new to you. The point on Book Lovers Day is to keep the written word alive in your life. Let others’ ideas flow through pen and paper and transform your thoughts, putting new ideas or indentations in your thinking, so you may be a more relevant, and empowered, leader. 


About the Author

Sheryl Brown knows firsthand that social media can amplify your value proposition — and she wants to show you how. As social media engagement manager at Ash Brokerage, she assists advisors and employees with their own social media strategies, and she has been influential in developing a strategic online presence for Ash Brokerage — one that connects to both clients and advisors, positively impacts practices and creates communities aimed at improving the industry.