Protection Products

Ask an Underwriter: Key To Hep C


Hepatitis C is the most common bloodborne disease in the United States and is also the most frequent type of hepatitis we see in underwriting. What is it? An inflammation of the liver that may be acute and mild, or a more serious chronic type that attacks the liver. 

Hep C virus (or HCV) is spread primarily through contact with blood of an infected person. It’s often called the “silent epidemic” because no symptoms are present until the disease progresses. If not identified early, it may lead to cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer, which may require a transplant.


Interesting Facts

  • Hep C spreads through contact with the blood of an infected individual, often by sharing needles or syringes; needle-stick injuries in health care settings are also common
  • Less common exposures include sharing personal items that may have come in contact with someone’s blood or having sexual contact with someone infected with the disease
  • Mothers with Hep C can pass to the disease to their unborn children
  • Many years ago, contaminated blood transfusions were another exposure risk; this was prior to the implementation of mandatory testing of donated blood
  • More than 3.5 million people in the United States are affected by Hep C


Staggering Statistics 

  • 75-85 out of 100 people with Hep C will develop chronic liver disease
  • 5-20 people will go on to develop cirrhosis over a period of 20-30 years
  • 1-5 people will die from cirrhosis or liver cancer
  • Baby boomers (those born between 1945-1965) are five times more likely to be infected than any other adults; many were infected before the dangers were known



A few years ago, the outlook for treating chronic Hep C was less favorable. Patients would have to undergo protocols of injections and multiple pills a day with major side effects for almost a year. There would then be a six-month follow-up period to evaluate if treatment was a success. The cure rate was only 50 percent.

But, we’ve come a long way! Due to research in the field, many patients can now be cured with direct-acting antiviral drugs, a less potent combination in one or a few pills for only a few months. Cure rates are about 95 percent for most patients. FDA approved anti-viral drugs include Harvoni, Olysio, Viekira Pak, Zepatier and Daklinza. There also continues to be research for patients who don’t respond well to this new treatment protocol. 


Hep C and Underwriting 

Depending on the type and specific details of a client’s hepatitis history, life insurance carriers will give possible consideration of coverage, some even qualifying without a rating. With the significantly improved cure rates associated with new treatments, we have seen several carriers update their risk philosophy specific to hepatitis with reduced/eliminated postpone periods after treatment and more clients qualifying for non-rated coverage. 

Generally, the most favorable clients include those who have completed treatment with documented stability through interval lab testing, which shows normal liver function results (AST, ALT and GGT). Carriers also like to see an undetectable viral load (HCV RNA or HCV PCR), which measures the amount of virus in the bloodstream.    

Important factors of consideration also include date of diagnosis, disease duration, liver biopsy results (if any), type of treatment (if any), date of last treatment, current/historic alcohol use and overall control/compliance of care.  

To make your next case a little easier, view our Hepatitis Questionnaire with your client, then contact your Ash Brokerage team. We’re ready to help!


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About the Author

Lisa Oleski has been brokerage underwriting for the past 20 years. She is passionate about treating each case she touches as an opportunity to exemplify the Ash difference, with the ultimate outcome of finding the most favorable solutions for advisors and their clients.


Hepatitis Underwriting

Long-Term Freedom for Families


Editor’s Note: We originally posted this simple, yet thoughtful post a year ago. Because it was so impactful, we decided to publish it again. This year, be sure you talk to your clients not just about their own independence, but the independence of their loved ones. 


On the Fourth of July, we all think about having a day off from work, eating at cookouts, watching fireworks and just enjoying ourselves. It seems as though we’ve quickly forgotten about what the day really means: Independence. 

Now I’m sure everyone reading this thinks I’m going to talk about your clients having the freedom and independence to receive long-term care where and how they want. To be honest, that’s the way I was going to go … Then I started thinking about my mother-in-law and all the struggles she and her siblings have gone through over the past few years as their parents required care … So please bear with me as I take a different approach.


Changing Roles

When it comes to long-term care, I’ve written many times about the consequences family members suffer when their love one chooses to ignore the need for planning. What I’m saying is this: When someone needs extended care, they get it. But, those closest to them get new obligations which they may not be ready for. They are no longer a spouse, child or grandchild – they are likely caregivers, and their loved one is their patient.  

While we all would happily sacrifice everything for our families (or at least I hope), would we ever ask our family members to do the same for us? The only logical answer is no, but clients seem to take this approach every single day. Ask them: 

“If you have an extended care event, would you ask your spouse, children, grandchildren or other loved ones to give up their lives – their independence – to be your caregivers?”

The answer is probably no, but we typically don’t make our clients look at it this way.


Put it in Practice

As we celebrate our great nation’s independence, let’s change the way we have the conversation about long-term care. Let’s talk to our clients about giving their families freedom – freedom to continue to live their lives and not put everything on hold. Just a few simple questions will help them see things in a different light.


Long Term Care LTC

Insurance Awareness: What everyone should know


Your job – and ours – would be a lot easier if everyone knew more about life insurance. Unfortunately, it’s one of those financial tools that’s often neglected or misunderstood. 

Pulling from their experience in the field, our Regional Vice Presidents recently answered a simple question: 

What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about life insurance?

Check out their responses below – they could be a great conversation-starter for your client meeting … or they could even be an eye-opener for you! 



Adam Warner

Simply how inexpensive it can be. Most people overestimate the cost of life insurance by about three times. In reality, you can potentially protect your loved ones or business and provide peace of mind for less than the cost of your cable or cell phone bill. What’s more important to you, flipping through 300 channels or protecting your family?

Gary Cyr

I wish people understood that shopping for life insurance isn’t about finding someone to run you the cheapest quote. It’s about finding someone to take your actual medical file (paramed exam and attending physician statements) to the insurance carriers and highlighting all the positives you have to negotiate lowest premium you can personally obtain.

David Pergande

Many people approach life insurance from the wrong direction. It's not a car or a television or tickets to a movie – it's a strategic tool. At the end of the day, everyone should plan for an unexpected death. Life insurance is not always the answer, but it is often the most efficient way to protect your family's quality of life should that happen. The beautiful thing is these vehicles are becoming more flexible, so you're often able to mitigate more than one area of exposure with one purchase. 

Kevin Orth

We all insure “things” – cars, homes, boats, motorcycles, etc., and may not ever “use” the coverage.  I think we would all agree that people are more important than things, so why not insure more lives?! We know we will “use” the life insurance!

Sharlene Woerther

Life insurance is not an option. It is peace of mind. If you have a family, a business or a favorite charity, life insurance is the perfect solution to protect those who depend on you.

Kevin Harty

Life insurance is really about providing people peace of mind – it is an act of love. No other product can ensure your loved ones are financially secure, provide educational opportunity, help pass on a legacy to future generations and provide living benefits should you need them. It is the single most important tool in putting together your financial plan.

Liz Gibbons

You don’t want to think about it until the inevitable happens and it’s too late. One simply MUST include insurance in their financial plan.




Mike Pompei

Simple: That you don’t have to die to use its benefits.

Erika Ghaffari

Life insurance is not a death sentence, and you don’t always have to die to benefit from it. Life insurance is not here to stop you from living your life – it’s here so you can live continue to live your life to the fullest, your way.

Shane Kimmel

I wish everyone knew there is more than one use for life insurance. As products adapt and change in the financial space, why is life insurance overlooked and not viewed as evolving too? The financial services industry is about leveraging the assets you have to protect yourself and family from any unforeseen and negative events. With life insurance now being able to pay for long-term care and chronic illness events, solve estate tax issues, grow money and distribute it tax-free, etc., the proper solution can be beneficial for all.

Bobby Pesakoff

I'm all about living benefits ... I think more people need to know about the ways they can use life insurance to protect their families and businesses in situations that don't involve death – chronic illness, critical illness, long-term care, and waiver of premium are under under-utilized.

Steve Sangeorzan 

Couples retiring at 65 will experience $220,000 of lifetime health care costs, according to Fidelity Investments. Life insurance with long-term care and chronic illness riders can provide protection for those expenses.




Damon Strickland

Life insurance is a diversification tool! Diversification isn’t just about bonds, stocks and cash – it also includes the rest of your financial portfolio, which are products outside of bank accounts and retirement plans. Diversifying your income stream and overall risk are two pillars when it comes to a comfortable financial plan. You may be exposed to risks you were not even aware of. Have a plan that is consistently flexible and you can win most situations – life insurance can help you do that!

Steven Jessup

I think folks need to understand life insurance is no longer just a death benefit/protection product. Where else can you get tax-free growth/income, and yes, eventually a tax-free wealth transfer without income limits, age restrictions, IRS imposed penalties, etc.? It's another tool to help manage YOUR life ... not just other people's lives after your death. 

Jaie Locke

One of the more notable improvements to life insurance has been the integration of fully guaranteed death benefits with the strong potential for cash value accumulation. Today, we're fortunate to have many products that can provide both benefits simultaneously and, as a result, give customers more flexibility and options as they log miles down the road of life. You really can have your cake and eat it too!

Mark Doherty

I wish every advisor or wealth manager had the experience and satisfaction of seeing the benefits of life insurance in action. Whether it’s loans offering financial flexibility, living benefits for long-term care or chronic illness, replacement of income due to an untimely death, the liquidation of a deceased partner’s equity in a business for their family, or the retention of a business and/or estate’s value through the payment of estate taxes, insurance coverage can change lives.

Matthew Anderson

You don’t always have to die to benefit from owning life insurance. Life Insurance can create a unique tax efficiencies that make owning it crucial to any financial plan, protecting our financial wellbeing from many uncertainties during our retirement years.   

David Smitherman

People don’t like what life insurance is … but they like what life insurance does. It’s often a scary and unappealing topic of conversation, but do your family a favor to sit down with your financial advisor to learn more about what life insurance can provide – immediate estate creation, cash at a discount when it’s needed most, tax-deferred growth, tax-free income potential, long-term care living benefits, and more!

Adam Schaefer

I think a lot of people only see life insurance as a death benefit product that is “sold” to them, but really it’s a tool that can help solve the client’s overall goals and needs. It’s important to meet with an advisor so they can find out what keeps you up at night, what is important to you – whether it’s saving for retirement, funding your kids’ college education, estate planning, protecting your loved ones if something were to happen, long-term care or whatever it is … life insurance could be an incredible tool to solve those needs.

Jason O’Barr

The one thing that wished everyone knew about life insurance is the full extent of its capabilities. What other financial product can protect your family, protect your business, and provide supplemental income for your retirement?! And by the way, did I mention that most of the time that’s on a tax-free basis? 

Ask an Underwriter: Why do you care about my client’s hobbies?


We hear it often, “My client is healthy as an ox … he just base jumps,” or “I don’t understand why my client is being rated for mountain climbing – she’s clearly a very fit woman.” 

Even if you may be correct in assessing your client’s physical health, the inherent risks remain with their hobbies. While those activities may be on the more extreme end of the spectrum when it comes to commonly seen avocations within the general population, there are risks involved with more readily participated avocations, such as SCUBA diving or auto racing. Those are often dismissed by the uninformed simply because they are more widely practiced. 


But, I’m careful …

Although that may be true, even the most careful individuals get tripped up by circumstances beyond their control. When an individual participates in an activity that elevates their exposure to such harm, they become a riskier investment for insurance companies to insure. 


Mortality Rates for Common Avocations

  • SCUBA Diving: Between 3-6 of every 100,000 participants (Source)
  • Mountain Climbing: 8 of every 100,000 participants (Source)
  • Auto Racing: Between 5-44 of every 100,000 participants, based on the number of racing participants, which is estimated to be between 50,000-400,000 per year (Source)
  • Sky Diving: less than 1 of every 100,000 jumps (Source)
  • Private Pilot: 1 for every 100,000 hours flown (Source)


How can I expect to be rated?

In addition to your client’s age and health status, several other variables contribute to how insurance carriers rate each activity, including level of participation, certification obtained, experience, location of activities, equipment used/not used, etc. Each of these variables affect your level of risk exposure. 

For example, a healthy, 50-year-old private pilot with an instrument flight rating (IFR) with 20 years of experience flying, 2,000 total flight hours and 100 hours per year has less exposure to risk than a healthy, 25-year-old pilot without an IFR who has been flying for five years and has only logged 100 total hours with only 20 hours per year. Clearly, the 50-year-old has an additional certification and more experience. In this circumstance, it may be possible for the 50-year-old to obtain preferred rates, while the 25-year-old may be limited in rate class and have an additional flat extra tacked onto the premium. 

Occasionally, depending on the avocation, some carriers will offer exclusion riders. This is when the carrier will agree to insure the individual and pay the benefit in case of death unless the insured died while performing the excluded activity. While many carriers offer aviation exclusion riders, other avocation exclusion riders are not as widely available – and when they are, the state of sale and more advanced ages further dictate availability. 



When it comes to avocations, it’s important to know: 

  • What activities your client participates in, and the degree to which they are involved
  • How often they participate in the activity, and how long they’ve been participating
  • If they are properly certified, using proper equipment, and obeying all rules and regulations
  • If they’ve had any accidents or legal fines as a result of their participation 
  • If they would be willing to accept an exclusion rider for the activity (should one be made available)

Check out our helpful questionnaire to help guide the conversation with your client. No matter the situation, we encourage you to ask questions and get all the facts. If you have a specific scenario you would like to discuss, please reach out to me at or contact your dedicated Ash Brokerage underwriter. 


About the Author

Joe Taulbee has been in the life insurance industry for nearly 10 years with more four years as an underwriter, and he’s helped numerous families and individuals gain much needed financial security and peace of mind through the procuration of life insurance. He has passed all levels of testing through the Academy of Life Underwriting and is currently pursuing an underwriting fellow designation with ongoing LOMA coursework. 

Fishing for Generations to Come


In my opinion, there’s no greater day than National Go Fishing Day. To celebrate this holiday a year ago, I wrote about the legacy my grandfather protected by purchasing that small, whole life insurance contract to fund our annual fishing trip. This year, I thought I’d reflect on why I fish. The short answer is that fishing is in my DNA – it’s brought my family together from generation to generation. 

Some people see fishing as a waste of time. You’re out on the water for 8-10 hours, probably getting sunburnt, just to catch fish and throw them back. And some people think it’s just complete luck, not skill, if you’re successful. 

Of course, I disagree with the naysayers. Fishing is more about so much more. It’s the art of being on the water on those early mornings without the clutter of society, but with the people closest to you. And luck isn’t just luck – it’s about timing and preparation. You never know when that 5-pound slaunch-donkey of a bass is going to strike, which means you can never let your guard down. If you ever want to improve on your ability to focus, pick up the art of bass fishing. 

It’s clear fishing is a part of my family’s past, and I want to help ensure it’s part of our future. I have no doubt my future kids will be avid fishermen/fisherwomen. That said, I also plan to continue the legacy my grandfather started by purchasing a small, permanent life insurance contract – so no matter when I pass away, they will be able to keep the traditional going and fish new waters, waters that are hopefully filled with a plethora of fish. 

Good luck to everyone who’s fishing this season – I’ll see you on the water!

Tight Lines, 
Steven Bressler


About the Author

Steven Bressler has been with Ash Brokerage for more than two years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in public financial management from Indiana University, where he was vice president of the IU Bass Fishing Team, qualifying for two national championships and earning a top five ranking out of more than 700 collegiate teams. He is also the varsity boys tennis coach at Prairie Heights High School in northeastern Indiana.