Protection Products

Life Insurance: Changing up the Traditional Recipe


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This is such a magical time of year – so many fond, heartwarming memories, both old and new traditions year after year, from one generation to the next. It’s fair to say, regardless of your beliefs, many holiday traditions are centered around two things:

  • Loving others
  • Expressing that love through giving

 

My favorite holiday tradition involves a full blown baking marathon weekend, where we prepare 30 different types of cookies and treats, then make gift trays for family, friends, coworkers and neighbors. Having carried on this tradition for more than 20 years – from my mother and my mother’s mother – it’s been an amazing gift to see the joy it brings to others, especially when watching our children give trays to our neighbors.

 

Old Meets New

You may think traditions are hard to maintain in today’s fast-paced, commercialized society. I would challenge that thinking because many “old” traditions are easily upgraded – my family’s included! I have a pantry full of modern baking gadgets, a wealth of recipes/tips from the Internet and an abundance of stores where I can easily buy ingredients. All of these advancements provide the opportunity to do more, do it better and do it all in less time. The tradition remains, but the convenience is greatly improved.

 

The same applies to how our industry is evolving. Life insurance has been a “traditional” product in the eyes of most consumers, but we’re working to change up the recipe. Just like your holiday traditions, life insurance is based on:

  • Loving others
  • Expressing that love through giving

 

Complicated Meets Streamlined

Let’s start by changing the perception that all meaningful gifts are tangible, and that life insurance is “old fashion and complicated.” Over the last year, we’ve seen carriers progressively adopt automated underwriting enhancements to do just that.

 

Today, seven of our carriers offer streamlined underwriting programs, with face amounts from $50,000 up to $1 million, for ages 18-60. Qualifications vary from carrier to carrier, of course, but the majority of these programs target preferred/healthy clients. In an effort to improve the process of obtaining life insurance, carriers are utilizing conveniences like e-applications, streamlined underwriting and e-delivery.

 

We’re changing the recipe for traditionally underwritten coverage, too. We’ve seen carriers reduce age/amount requirements, many eliminating resting EKGs, physician’s exams and inspection reports – all of which are highly invasive for clients. As medical advancements extend our life expectancy, carriers are adjusting their expected mortality, as we’ve witnessed with specific impairments like hepatitis C, prostate cancer and even HIV.

 

Tradition Meets Improvement

These are the very beginnings of the changes we need to reach new markets, find new customers and start an improvement of traditions within our industry. The Ash Brokerage family will always honor of the tradition of helping you make the right choices for your clients – we’re also striving to improve that tradition and make it easier to give the gift of love.

 

About the Author

Jennifer Glessner knows every opportunity she’s entrusted with is truly a gift, whether it’s the advisor’s first or 100th policy. With 20 years of life insurance experience, she grew up in the business and has a vital understanding of where we were, where we are and where we are going as an industry. Her diverse background includes underwriting, sales, operation and leadership, and she’s also an Associate of the Life Management Institute and an Associate of the Academy of Life Underwriting.

Life Insurance Process Improvement Tradition

Ask an Underwriter: Why should clients be screened for diabetes?


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November is American Diabetes Month and, ironically, the month for pumpkin pie! But … diabetes is about far more than skipping or modifying dessert. It’s a common condition affecting millions of Americans with potential life-threatening complications.

In fact, according to the American Diabetes Association, 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3 percent of our population, had diabetes in 2012, and 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year.

So, even if your clients haven’t been diagnosed as diabetic or pre-diabetic, it’s important to understand the disease and its risk factors. One simple screening could save a life or a lifetime of complications! Unfortunately (or fortunately), their lab results can come back with surprising results.

 

Types of Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes

usually develops in childhood or adolescence (prior to age 30) and accounts for 10-15 percent of all cases. In Type 1, the cells in the pancreas responsible for producing insulin have either been destroyed or produce no insulin. Since no natural insulin is available, treatment involves injection of laboratory-manufactured insulin for effective control of glucose metabolism. Risk factors for Type 1 include autoimmune disease and a family history of diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes

is commonly associated with obesity and onset after age 30. A family history of diabetes is common, and sufferers probably inherit a predisposition to glucose intolerance, which is exacerbated by obesity. 

Gestational diabetes

starts or is first recognized in pregnancy, in a previously non-diabetic woman. It usually becomes apparent during the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy. Risk factors include family history of diabetes, obesity, birth weight over 9 pounds in a previous infant, unexplained death in a previous infant, congenital malformation in a previous child and recurrent infections. Thirty to 50 percent of women with a history of gestational diabetes develop non-insulin dependent diabetes within 10 years. 

 

Potential Complications

  • Diabetes Mellitus

    is a group of metabolic disorders characterized by chronic hyperglycemia from insulin deficiency or resistance, or both. It is usually irreversible and, although a reasonable lifestyle can be enjoyed, the late complications result in reduced life expectancy. Macrovascular disease leads to an increased prevalence of coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease and stroke. 

  • Neuropathy

    is damage to the small blood vessels that supply all nerves, causing numbness and tingling in the extremities, abnormal sensations and muscle weakness.

  • Nephropathy

    is a progressive kidney disease caused by damage to the capillaries due to longstanding uncontrolled diabetes.

  • Retinopathy

    is damage to the retina in the eye from microvascular changes which can cause blurry vision and, in extreme cases, blindness.

  • Proteinuria

    is the presence of excess levels of protein in the urine due to damage to the kidneys.

 

Testing – Hemoglobin A1C

The industry gold standard for identifying applicants with, and those at risk for, diabetes is an A1C screen. This test measures a person’s average levels of blood glucose, or blood sugar, for the past two to three months. It is measured as a percentage, and the ideal range is less than 5.7.

A hemoglobin A1C screen is stable, is not affected by glycolysis and does not require fasting, making it more reliable and accurate that a glucose test. These screenings can empower applicants to take control of their health, especially those who are pre-diabetic and have the chance to make life-saving changes.

So let’s all become aware – about diabetes or any disease. Ask questions. Educate yourself. Be an advocate for yourself and your clients. More importantly, know your number!

 

Learn More

Statistics About Diabetes, American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/

 

About the Author

Debra Misko is passionate about her work and gratified to help clients find security for their family’s future. She has worked in underwriting for 21 years and has been with Ash Brokerage for more than eight years. A graduate of Schoolcraft College, she has a business degree and has also completed two of the Academy of Life Insurance Underwriting exams. 

 

UW Underwriting Diabetes

Why You Can’t Afford to Avoid Long-Term Care Planning


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Personally, I’ve seen two family members require long-term care, and those care events were emotionally, physically and financially draining for everyone involved. Planning ahead could have made a world of difference.

Professionally, I’ve seen an advisor’s relationship with his clients negatively impacted when he avoided discussing LTC. Again, a little planning could have made a world of difference …

A Missed Opportunity

About two years ago, I received a call from an advisor whom I’d been trying to connect with for months. He apologized for not returning my calls and emails, and he said he needed my help, which made my day.

The advisor, who focused primarily on investments, explained that recently, one of his top clients came into the office and laid down two linked benefit policies – one for him and one for his wife. The client said he was at the bank when the bank’s advisor pitched the policies to cover their future potential LTC expenses, in return protecting the rest of their assets. This made sense to the client and his wife, so they moved forward, using excess cash they had sitting at the bank.

The client brought the policies back to the investment advisor to see how they would fit into the couple’s existing retirement plans. The client said, “We purchased these from the bank advisor because we know you don’t deal on the insurance side.”

Not only was the investment advisor upset because he lost business, but he also felt he let his clients down by not helping them prepare for potential LTC expenses. He also told me these same clients starting moving their money away … to the bank advisor. He said, “I need to be brought up to speed about LTC planning and available solutions before this happens again.”

Moral of the story: If you aren’t having LTC discussions with your clients, someone else will.

 

Your Chance at Redemption

The concept of a three-legged stool is used a lot in our industry. We usually position three needs and point out that any two will have a hard time standing without the third.

This is a simple way to position LTC planning with clients. You may have done a great job of planning their retirement income and wealth transfer plans … But what happens if their health becomes compromised? Their income and estate plans could be ruined. Tell your clients, “This is why I would like to discuss a plan that addresses potential long-term care expenses.”

By positioning an LTC plan as protection for your clients’ assets and income, you’re showing them you care about protect everything they have worked so hard to accumulate over their working years. You’re showing them how to support all three legs of their stool.
Your LTC team at Ash Brokerage is here to help you in any way we can. We understand you’re busy with many other aspects of the financial planning process, and LTC planning may not be your main focus. Let us help you streamline the process and grow your business along the way.

When you’re proactively discussing LTC planning with clients, you’re a step ahead of your competition. Want to get started? Check out last month’s post on opportunities within your existing book of business [LINK] or give us a call.


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.

5 Opportunities Sitting in Your Book of Business


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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?


Protection

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.  

 

Dedication

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