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Ask an Underwriter: Why should I care about my client’s colonoscopy?


Protection

It may be an uncomfortable topic, but you may want to ask your clients if they’ve ever had a colonoscopy. Why? Colonoscopies are important in screening and preventative measure for colorectal cancer. 

In the United States, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer (excluding skin cancers) and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2016, 134,490 people will be diagnosed and 49,190 people will die from this disease.*

The good news? When it’s discovered early, colorectal cancer is highly treatable. In many cases, regular screening can prevent cancer by finding and removing polyps before they become cancer. And if cancer is already present, earlier detection means a better chance at a longer life.

 

Screening tests include: 

  • Colonoscopy – Done with either a scope or special imaging (X-rays), these tests look at the structure of the colon to find any abnormal areas. Polyps found during these tests can be removed before they become cancerous, so these tests are preferred for screening. The American Cancer Society recommends individuals be screened with a colonoscopy at age 50, but people at higher risk for colorectal cancer might need to start screening earlier.

  • Stool Cards – This is a less invasive screening methods which tests for occult blood in the stool. Positive test results typically lead to a colonoscopy to fully investigate.  

  • Blood Testing – In combination with the above tests, another screening can also be done by obtaining a carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) value through blood testing. Normal CEA level is less than 2.5 ng/ml; when CEA is greater than 5ng/ml, further investigation is often warranted. 

As we see with many cancers, survival rates for colorectal cancer have been progressively improving since the mid-1980s as a direct result of early detection, routine screening and increased public awareness. Currently there are more than 1 million colorectal cancer survivors in the United States!*  

 

Underwriting Colorectal Cancers

For clients with colorectal cancers, insurability is largely dependent on the age at diagnosis, years since treatment, and other details. Those with early forms of cancer may be insurable with completion of successful treatment within one to two years, while those with more advanced stages could be postponed a full four years or be uninsurable. 

When evaluating someone with history of polyps and/or colon cancer, it’s important to know:

  • Results of colonoscopy performed as part of screening or a result of signs and symptoms
  • Results of all pathology reports to include staging
  • Results of colonoscopy performed as follow-up on any polyp(s) and/or cancer excision
  • Family history of colorectal cancer, age of diagnosis and relation to our client

With so many variables involved, we’ve created a. No matter the situation, we encourage you to ask questions and get all the facts. Have a specific question? Check out the resources below or drop me a line and we'll be happy to help.

 

Learn More

 

About the Author

Diane Fulk has been in the life insurance industry for more than 40 years, helping many families secure much needed life insurance coverage and peace of mind. She approaches each case, like each person, individually. She is certified in EKG interpretations, has passed all three of the Academy of Life Insurance Underwriting exams and many LOMA exams.

underwriting cancer

Another Day, Another Chance to Take Action


Protection

Ever wonder what you would do, could do, or would have done if you had another hour in the day? Or how about an extra day in the year? With Leap Year, we literally get an extra day every four years, but we rarely mark it as an extra opportunity. 

Have you been putting off something you really need to do? Maybe making doctor’s appointment, doing your taxes, replacing the tires on your car, setting up that date night your spouse keeps hinting about, cleaning out the junk drawer that we all have in our house … or even getting around to finding life insurance coverage for your clients. 

 

What if there is no tomorrow? 

groundhog.jpgLike everyone else, I love to procrastinate – I’ll get that done next year, next month, maybe tomorrow. But what happens if we don’t get that extra day? I’m not talking about February 29 – I’m literally talking about tomorrow. We know today is a gift because tomorrow isn’t promised to us. Think about it: You – or your clients – might not be around tomorrow to get that policy in place. 

“Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today.”

– Phil (Bill Murray) in “Groundhog Day”

I know Groundhog Day the holiday is at the opposite end of February, but I think “Groundhog Day” the movie tells the same lesson. In the film, Bill Murray (who in my opinion is one of the all-time greatest comedians) plays Phil, a weatherman covering Punxsutawney Phil’s annual emergence from his burrow. 

Phil not only gets caught in a blizzard that he didn’t predict, but he also finds himself trapped in a time warp. He is doomed to relive the same day over and over again, consistently making mistakes and manipulations until he finally gets it right by doing things for the good of others and not just himself. Only then does he finally get to move on to a new day. 

 

Take Action

Looking for something good to do with your extra day this year? Or better yet, TODAY? How about helping your clients get the insurance protection they need for their spouse, kids or business.

Take steps to protect them financially so that WHEN, not IF, tomorrow never comes, the people they care about will be able to continue their daily lives, at least without financial hardship or interruption.

 

About the Author

As an Ash Brokerage RVP, Kevin Orth enjoys establishing and building lasting relationships while having some fun along the way. In addition to having more than 20 years of experience in the life insurance industry, he is a Chartered Life Underwriter®, Fellow of the Life Management Institute and member of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. 

 

Ask an Underwriter: Cardiac Complications


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When you come across clients with a cardiac history, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for insurance. Different diagnoses or symptoms require different tests … and lead to different outcomes for underwriting.  

First of all, cardiac disorders or diseases affect the heart in different ways: 

  • Atrial fibrillation (irregular rhythm), sinus bradycardia (very slow heart rate) or tachycardia (very fast heart rate) are disruptions in the “electrical” system or the “wiring” of the heart muscle

  • High blood pressure or coronary artery disease are circulatory disorders

  • Cardiomyopathy, congenital and/or acquired abnormalities (diseases which can affect the heart muscle or valves) are muscular or structural disorders 

The category or type of heart disease an individual is treated for will dictate the diagnostic or routine cardiac exam and/or testing they will undergo. 

 

“Electrical” disruptions

The basic heart exam will consist of review of symptoms and vital statistics (blood pressure, pulse and oxygen levels), plus a stethoscope exam and a resting electrocardiogram (EKG). If further evaluation is needed, a Holter monitor (a continuous recording of a person’s heart rhythm) may be ordered as well as an echocardiogram (ECHO – a type of ultrasound test that uses sound waves to create pictures of the heart).

 

Circulatory disorders

Exams and testing will include a basic cardiac exam, with a resting EKG and blood work. If further evaluation is needed, there may be one or more of the following tests: stress test or stress test with nuclear imaging (measures a heart’s response to exertion or stress and is induced by exercise or drug stimulation), ECHO, stress ECHO, or cardiac CT angiography. Depending on findings, a more invasive exam, such as cardiac catheterization, may be required.

 

Muscular or structural disorders

Testing will include the basic cardiac exam, a chest x-ray, and an EKG.  Depending on symptoms and findings, additional testing can include one of more of the following:  ECHO, stress ECHO, cardiac MRI or CT, cardiac catheterization, or a cardiac biopsy.

 

Underwriting Assessment

When considering an applicant with a cardiac history of any kind, a life insurance underwriter hopes to see that the individual:  

  • Goes to regular follow-up visits with their doctor
  • Follows all treatments, including medication, changes in diet, or exercise (if recommended)
  • Has up-to-date, routine serial cardiac testing (stress test, ECHO, etc.) with results that show stability of the underlying disorder, as well as good heart function

By proving they’re compliant with treatments and doing well, applicants with a cardiac history may be considered more favorably in underwriting, giving them more favorable options for coverage.  

With so many variables involved – from the diagnosis/treatment details to carrier risk assessment – we’ve created three comprehensive questionnaires to assist you in your fact-finding efforts. 

No matter the situation, we encourage you to ask questions and get all the facts. Have a specific question? Check out the resources below or drop me a line and we'll be happy to help.

 

Learn More

 

About the Author

For more than 34 years, Charlie Kuhn has taken a personal interest in every case. To her, it’s more than a file – it’s a person trying to protect the people they care about, and she can think of no better vocation than to help provide financial and emotional security for others. Through her personal commitment to continuous professional growth, Charlie is one test away from becoming an Associate of the Life Management Institute. She is already an Associate of Customer Service with LOMA, has passed all three of the Academy of Life Underwriting exams, and is certified in EKG interpretation.

 

 

underwriting cardiac heart

Defense Wins Championships, in Football and Finance


Protection

It’s been said, “Defense wins championships.” With the Super Bowl celebrating its 50th year, you’ve likely heard the talking heads repeat this phrase as it relates to football’s biggest game. But, the same wisdom can apply in the world of financial planning. Amidst uncertain market conditions, it’s paramount we protect clients’ accumulated assets. 

 

The Boom

Football smashed its way into the hearts of Americans 50 years ago, as the middle class emerged post-World War II. Five decades later, the baby boomers have endured tumultuous markets and watched their wealth accumulate as they prepared to retire. 

In the meantime, some important things changed:  

  • Medical technology and access to health care improved, and continues to improve …
  • As a result, the average human lifespan also improved, and retirees are living longer than they planned

Now, many Americans are faced with the harsh reality that they may run out of money in retirement, especially when factoring in the likelihood of needing extended medical care at some point in their lives.   

The Challenge

Financial professionals have long focused on accumulation as a core competency, but too frequently overlook the protection vehicles such as life insurance, annuities or long-term care. These solutions are not widely understood, and quickly deemed by many as, “expensive” or “unnecessary.”  

However, market volatility, living too long, and costly health care needs are variables that can derail even the best of plans. Protection products not only provide a level of comfort when facing these risks, but they also provide tax advantages and guarantees not available through other financial vehicles. 

The Game Plan

In the fourth quarter of life, your clients want to be confident their retirement strategy is sound. Many are looking to a financial “defensive coordinator” to make sure their asset management game plan includes solid protection for potential risks. 

Be that defensive coordinator. Help them win. After all, everyone wants a chance to compete for the championship.

 

About the Author

As an Ash Brokerage RVP, Kurt believes in doing more than providing quality insurance solutions – he works to build longstanding, trusting relationships through mutual interests, goals and morals. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Columbia University, where he studied political science and economics, and also played football. His career experience includes wholesaling with Lincoln Financial Group as well as a stint with the U.S. Attorney Office. 

Top 5 Reasons Spouses Need Life Insurance


Protection

Being a spouse is about more than being married. It’s about providing unconditional love, friendship and support – both emotionally and financially. It’s easier to focus on emotional support, but financial support can also create invaluable peace of mind. With life insurance, it also demonstrate love beyond measure. 

To that point, are the top five reasons you should talk to your married clients about life insurance: 

  1. Someone depends on them. No matter what, having a spouse means someone depends on you. Regardless of whether both spouses working, and regardless of who the bread winner is, life insurance will play an important role in a time of great need. 

  2. They likely have debt. Whether it’s a mortgage, car loan, credit card bills, medical expenses etc., a death benefit can provide a lump sum to eliminate these debts and alleviate worry for the surviving spouse. 

  3. They may have kids. Enough said, right? We all want to be sure our children will be taken care of no matter what happens to us.   

  4. They may have a business. If a business owner dies without proper insurance and planning in place, their spouse will likely have the burden of going into business with the remaining partners or holding a fire sale to settle debt. 

  5. They will definitely have final expenses. Funeral and burial costs can amount to thousands of dollars. Without life insurance, the surviving spouse and family will likely be left with a great financial burden on top of their grief. 


Put it in Practice

If your clients are married, you now have five great conversations starters to have the talk about life insurance. Be sure every spouse has the coverage they need – because someone is depending on them … and they are depending you!

 

About the Author

Sharlene Woerther is passionate about addressing the universal need for protection with insurance. As an Ash Brokerage RVP, she helps agents enhance their practice by uncovering and addressing their clients’ concerns with sensible and impactful solutions. With more than 28 years of experience, she has expertise in underwriting, case design and advanced planning. 

Life Insurance spouses