Protection Products

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.


Molly’s Story: Not If, But When, Sickness Strikes


Editor's Note: This is a guest post from our friend Molly Mabry of Unified Employee Benefits. Molly is a breast cancer survivor who understands firsthand the financial devastation that comes along with the physical battle of a critical illness. If you have just 3 minutes, you should watch Molly tell her story on the UEB website. It’s so impactful, you’ll want to share it with your clients, too.  

In one fell swoop, I learned nobody is bulletproof to sickness. No matter how much you exercise or eat right, sooner or later you will have a health challenge. The question is, what CAN you do about it?

At age 43, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and multiple sclerosis within a two-day period. Up to that point, I had great health and no family history of sickness. So here’s the deal: I thought I was bulletproof. I had made no plans to be sick. I thought sickness was a matter of lifestyle choices. At least, that’s what I told myself.

Six months later after surgery, chemotherapy and $18,000 in out-of-pocket debt, I realized that sooner or later almost EVERYONE has a critical illness. Some will be diagnosed young, like me, some will be diagnosed later in life. Again, the question is, what are you to do about it?

I sold critical illness insurance before I got sick. But I didn’t buy it myself – I figured I had time.

The point is, as with any type of protection, the best time to get insurance is when you are young and healthy. It’s too late for me, but it’s probably not too late for you clients.  

Protect your clients from out-of-pocket medical expenses due to serious illness by looking at critical illness insurance. It can’t stop them from getting sick, but it can help protect everything they have worked so hard to earn.


About the Author

Molly_Mabry.jpgNow a principal of Unified Employee Benefits, Molly has been a voluntary benefits specialist with UEB since 2008. She earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Kansas and has many years of experience as a small business owner. She is a licensed life and health insurance producer as well as a worksite benefits specialist providing disability, accident, cancer, critical illness and hospital benefits.


Summer’s Slippery Slope


Summertime is quickly approaching, and your clients’ outdoor activity schedules are about to get busy. Walking, running, hiking, biking, baseball, softball … all are great ways to enjoy the outdoors. Though these activities can lead to a lot of fun … they can also lead to unforeseen accidents and injuries … which can lead to medical expenses and time off work … which can lead to financial devastation for your clients. 

Yes, it can be a slippery slope, both figuratively and literally. Your clients hopefully won’t be injured this summer … but, what if they are? With disability insurance, you can help them plan for any circumstances that affect their ability to earn a living with. 

Disability insurance – or, as we like to call it, paycheck protection insurance – is a vital coverage to protect your clients’ financial future. Don’t let them believe “It won’t happen to me” or, “If I become disabled, I will qualify for Social Security.” 

Know the facts: 

  • It CAN happen: More than 1 in 4 of today's 20-year-olds will become disabled before they retire,1 and the average individual disability claim lasts 31.6 months.2

  • Many people do not have any financial protection in place if a disability event does occurs – about 100 million workers are without private disability income insurance.1

  • Nearly 68 percent of all Social Security disability claims applications were denied in 2015.3 If your client does qualify, it may take more than a year to go through the process. 


No matter what your clients plan to do this summer, make sure they have financial protection in place to account for the unexpected. Protect their paycheck – and their financial future – with disability insurance. 


1U.S. Social Security Administration, Fact Sheet, February 7, 2013

2Gen Re, U.S. Individual DI Risk Management Survey 2011, based on claims closed in 2010

3 Social Security Administration, Disabled Worker Beneficiary Statistics,


About the Author

As vice president of disability income and long-term care insurance at Ash Brokerage, Tim Kukieza knows coverage he helps place will dramatically and positively impacts clients’ lives when they need it most. His vast knowledge comes from more than 20 years of experience in the insurance industry, including working with a number a carriers before joining Ash Brokerage.  

DI Disability

Ask an Underwriter: What’s the big deal with a little extra weight?


For every life insurance policy, underwriting begins with three basics: build, blood pressure and lab results. Positive findings can speed the process for you and your clients, and result in better rates and lower premiums … so if general health and wellness aren’t incentive enough, maybe the potential for less hassle and lower costs could entice them to get in shape. 


Why Wellness Matters

Insurance carriers acknowledge and reward healthy lifestyle choices. Many have adopted crediting methodologies which empower their underwriters to seek out opportunities to improve your client’s rate class based on things such as regular exercise, sustaining a healthy diet, being a lifetime nonsmoker or simply partaking in preventative medical visits, including appropriate screenings.  

Most of the impairments we see stem from a breakdown in basic health. In a nation where obesity is prevalent, it’s common to see many long-term complications of being overweight, such as diabetes, sleep apnea, elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure and even depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control, even modest weight loss, such as 5-10 percent of total body weight, can produce healthy benefits such as lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar – which can in turn improve underwriting results. 

Don’t let your clients be discouraged by the numbers, however. If they are only a few pounds from the next best rate class, underwriters will take into consideration whether they are truly making strides toward living a healthier life.  


Not All Loss is Equal

We see many clients with a history of gastric bypass surgery for weight loss, which is usually rapid. However, underwriters must look at the time period post-surgery to confirm the weight loss is steady and maintained. We also look closely at lab results after these types of surgeries to make sure there isn’t any concern with malnutrition or malabsorption. 

A better approach is slow and steady weight loss that includes a healthy diet and exercise. When you lose weight this way, you’re more likely to keep it off and cause less trauma to your body. 


Many Factors of Fitness

Of course, weight loss is only one component of health and fitness. Clients of any age can start a program for cardio conditioning, strength training, stretching, core balance, mental rest and relaxation, sleep, and healthy eating (after they consult their doctor, of course). Yoga, dance lessons or walking clubs are just a few examples of healthy choices for any client.  

You are never too old or out of shape to get started! Even clients who have been on medication for years can find their way to good health by starting with a few basic lifestyle changes that can also lead to better rates and lower premiums.  


About the Author

Rachel Landrum has been with Ash Brokerage more than eight years with an eye on a holistic approach to underwriting. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Purdue University, is a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, has taken many LOMA exams and has passed all of the Academy of Life Insurance Underwriting exams. Health and fitness are an important part of her life, and she encourages everyone to start healthy habits no matter where they are in life.   


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