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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.


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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

Ask an Underwriter: Prostate Cancer’s Impact on Life Insurance


Let’s be honest: Cancer is scary. No one wants to hear this diagnosis, but understanding the type of cancer and treatment options, along with early detection, is key. This is especially important when determining insurability of a client.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers we see in underwriting. What is it? It’s a cancer that starts in the prostate gland, which is part of the male reproductive system. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it’s the most common type of male cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men.


Risks Factors and Symptoms

There are many precursors of possible prostate cancer, and risk increases with age. CDC statistics show 5.84 percent of men currently age 60 will get prostate cancer within the next 10 years. That’s nearly six out of 100 men.

Symptoms of prostate cancer include:

  • Trouble with urination or decrease 
  • Discomfort of the pelvic region
  • Erectile dysfunction



Two tests that are common in early detection of prostate cancer are Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) and Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). The DRE is essential in making sure the size of the prostate is normal, smooth and no abnormalities can be felt, while the PSA is a blood test that measures the levels of the prostate. 

Elevated PSA levels can be a pre-cursor for prostate cancer; however, they are not indicative of actual prostate cancer. When high levels of PSA are seen, there’s a higher risk for prostate-related disease. In these individuals, routine screening is essential and may warrant a prostate biopsy at their doctor’s discretion. A prostate biopsy is the only procedure that can detect the actual prognosis of prostate cancer.



Treatment of prostate cancer varies, depending on the staging of the cancer. The most common treatments are radiation therapy, (external beam and/or brachytherapy) hormone therapy, or a radical prostatectomy, which removes the prostate. Once treatment has been successful, routine PSAs are done to evaluate levels and check for possible recurrence. 

With medical advancements, we are seeing an increase in the number of physicians taking conservative treatment measures through watchful waiting for those with early stage, localized prostate cancer.  This method of treatment closely monitors PSA levels on an interval basis, such as every six months.


Prostate Cancer and Underwriting

Depending on the client’s age, staging and treatment, along with currently undetectable PSA levels and no recurrence of disease after one year, we have seen life insurance carriers give possible consideration of coverage with a small flat extra or table rating.

Generally, the most favorable cases are individuals who are diagnosed over the age of 55 with localized, organ-confined prostate cancer, a Gleason score of six or less, a radical prostatectomy and PSA levels undetectable after three years. These clients may qualify for standard, non-smoker rates.    

Our prostate cancer underwriting questionnaire can help guide your conversations with clients by obtaining the details essential for an accurate assessment. 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.


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About the Author

Kiana has been working in the brokerage industry for 20 years, with the last 15 years in underwriting. As an underwriter at Ash Brokerage, she truly loves serving as a client advocate because she values the responsibility of satisfying each client's planning needs.


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.