Protection Products

Ask an Underwriter: What is Cognitive Impairment?


Protection

One of the first questions you’ll see on most life insurance applications is whether or not the applicant has Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or any form of cognitive impairment. In most cases, a “Yes” response is often the precursor to declining your policy. However, understanding these impairments will help get your client full consideration – and potentially a policy in hand.  

 

The word dementia is really just a general term used in describing symptoms caused by disorders of the brain. Symptoms are things like memory loss, or difficulties with thinking, problem solving or language.1 The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Typically, if you have been diagnosed with end-stage dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, the condition has progressed enough that it interferes with activities of daily living. This decline in cognition is severe enough to generally exclude consideration for traditional life insurance plans.

 

Get the Facts

Mild Cognitive impairment or MCI is a decline in memory and personality that could produce alterations in judgment, behavior and language. Mild cognitive impairment is a disorder that presents with measurable memory decline, but the client is able to independently perform all usual activities of daily living successfully. This is not to be confused with basic forgetfulness or not being able to recall a name on occasion. However, it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms. In fact, there are several causes of mild cognitive impairment that are actually reversible. To name just a few: thyroid dysfunction, vitamin deficiency, medication side effects, sleep disorders and even stress.
 

In general, a medical workup for cognitive impairment will include:

  • A thorough review of medical history, where the physician documents current symptoms, previous illnesses and medical conditions, and any family history of significant memory problems or dementia.
  • Assessment of independent function and daily activities, which focuses on any changes from a person's usual level of function.
  • In-office neurological examination to assess the function of nerves and reflexes, movement, coordination, balance and senses.
  • Evaluation of mood to detect depression; symptoms may include problems with memory or feeling "foggy." Depression is widespread and may be especially common in older adults.
  • Laboratory tests, including blood tests and imaging of the brain's structure.

 

If the workup doesn't create a clear clinical picture, the doctor may recommend neuropsychological testing, which involves a series of written or computerized tests to evaluate specific thinking skills.2

 

Underwriting Assessment

To help best negotiate a life insurance offer, we must work together to determine the actual diagnosis and how it was made. We must understand the severity of the client’s symptoms or lack even lack thereof.

 

It’s important to highlight all of the favorable factors. This would include having regular preventative health care and immunizations, as well as compliance with any prescribed medications. You should also make note of a routine that involves gainful employment, regular exercise, hobbies, participation in social activities and the ability to travel or take vacations. It also helps to point out if there are any family members with longevity as well. 

 

What does this all mean for your clients’ chances of securing life insurance? Carriers are continually re-evaluating their manuals when it comes to older age underwriting and cognitive impairment, giving more opportunity to secure affordable life insurance.  

 

Clearly, many factors need to be taken into consideration for underwriting, and Ash Brokerage is here to help. To help assist you in gathering the needed information, we have developed a Cognitive Impairment Questionnaire. Give our experienced underwriting staff a call to discuss your case.  

 

About the Author

Dianne Leidigh has earned an unwavering reputation, among customers and constituents alike, as a respected partner and trusted resource. Through her personal commitment to continuous professional growth, she’s become an Associate of the Life Management Institute, Associate of Customer Service with LOMA, and an Associate of the Academy of Life Underwriting. As Dianne approaches her second decade in the brokerage life insurance industry, much of which dedicated to advocating risk, her passion for helping others, commitment to personal growth, and perseverance continues to yield truly winning solutions!  

 

Learn More

Ash Brokerage Cognitive Impairment Questionnaire: https://ashcmsstorage.blob.core.windows.net/media//Docs/uw/impairment/Mild_Cognitive_Impairment.pdf

1Alzheimer Society Canada, “What is dementia?”: http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/About-dementia/What-is-dementia

2Alzheimer’s Association, “Mild Cognitive Impairment”: https://www.alz.org/dementia/mild-cognitive-impairment-mci.asp

Underwriting Cognitive Impairment Alzheimer's Dementia Life Insurance

How You Can Turn Tax Reform Savings Into Income


Protection

Tax season is here. And with tax reform in place, this season could be a game-changer. What do I mean? Well, your clients could be saving thousands of dollars on their income taxes. Now’s your chance to help them use it wisely. 

 

Take a look at the chart below. I’m not a tax expert, but I estimate a married couple with a combined income of $250,000 and two kids could save more than $7,000 with the new tax code. 

TAX-REFORM-BILL-INFOGRAPHIC.jpg (1)

What if you took that money and used it to purchase a tax-advantaged financial instrument? 

 

Cash value life insurance can not only give clients protection during their working years, but it can also create a supplemental, tax-free retirement income stream for their future. It may sound complicated, but it’s not. You’re simply taking one tax advantage to create another – and your clients don’t lose any net household income. You can watch a great video  that better explains the concept. 

 

There are other uses too. Today’s insurance products offer flexibility and coverage for things like long-term care or chronic illness. If you missed it, watch the replay of the webinar  we did on this topic. 

 

Bottom line: No matter their situation, you owe it to your clients to explore the possibilities. Before they cash out their tax savings, you should check out the options available with life insurance. Give me a call – no matter the question, no matter the need. I’m here to help. 

 

For financial professional use only. Calculations based on married couple with two children, living in Texas (with no income taxes), paying $11,157 in mortgage interest. Actual tax savings will vary. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Ash Brokerage and its representatives do not provide tax or legal advice. Consult a tax or legal professional.

Tax Reform Life Insurance Retirement Living Benefits Long-Term Care

Why You Must Resolve to Manage Risk in 2018


Protection

It's been a great run in the equity markets. If you manage money, business has been good. Your assets under management are likely at an all-time high. You’re starting the year with a nice recurring revenue stream. Life is good – or is it? 

 

Well, life insurance isn’t all good. It’s somewhat of a pun, but in all seriousness, risk management products have taken a back seat to AUM. Who wants to talk about death, getting sick or running out of income in this market? Not many people. 

 

Let’s face it, most of your time is spent on asset allocation, rebalancing, tax management, seeking alpha, low-cost, etc., etc., etc. By the time you’re done with all that, the risk management strategy can wait for the next meeting. You can get to it another time … your clients are fine, right?! 

 

For now. Unless you know something I don't, everyone has a 100 percent chance of not being fine forever.  

 

When, not if!

What if you put the risk management conversation at the forefront of your conversations this year? Actually have a heart-to-heart discussion about the risks in life. I’m not talking about death insurance conversations, I’m talking about living insurance conversations.

 

You need to plan for WHEN something will happen, not if. You need to talk about risk – extended health care, chronic illness, disability, outliving income and, yes, death – at every client meeting. 

 

To put it bluntly: You cannot call yourself a financial advisor, wealth manager or any other term that implies “holistic” planner unless you have a strategy around risk management. 

 

Resolve to Manage Risk

No more excuses. Make 2018 the year you become a "When it happens" advisor. To clarify, I don't think your clients must buy or own insurance coverage. But I do think you need to help them set a plan for action for WHEN one of life’s risks happens to them.  

 

Take the pressure off yourself and just have a conversation with the clients you serve. This isn't about product, or features or price. Tell them that you simply care enough to make a plan. When you do this, I bet your business will grow, your clients will be happier and you will know more about them than you do now. 

 

And yes, I imagine a few folks will want to transfer some of that risk away from their own balance sheet. If they want to know what that looks like, that's when you call us. And we’ll answer. 

Risk Management Life Insurnace Long Term Care Linked Benefit Retirement Disability Income Financial Planning Wealth Management

Ask an Underwriter: Can my client with HIV get life insurance?


Protection

The short answer? Yes, it’s possible. It helps to understand the disease before making an assessment. 

 

HIV, or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, affects the immune system by destroying important cells that help fight disease and infection. The virus can only be transmitted through specific activities and through direct contact bodily fluids – the highest risks of contracting the virus are through unprotected sexual intercourse or direct exposure blood, such as sharing needles or syringes. You cannot contract HIV simply through human contact such as shaking hands, hugging, coughing, sneezing, sweating or crying.1

 

Know the Facts

Currently, more than 1 million people in the United States are living with HIV. They are living longer and have a better quality of life thanks to extensive scientific research and more advanced treatments, such as Antiretrovival Therapy or ART. ART slows the progression of HIV and helps protect the patient’s immune system. If taken properly, the medicine can keep them healthy for many years and greatly reduces their chance of transmitting HIV to sexual partners.2

 

Two important elements to keep in mind with HIV are viral loads and CD4 levels. The viral load is the amount of HIV in the blood. The more HIV there is in the blood (and therefore the higher the viral load), then the faster the CD4 cell (or T cell) count will fall, weakening the immune system and creating a greater risk of becoming ill.3 

 

Underwriting

While more people are living longer with HIV today, the number of insurers is limited. Don’t fret over this! At Ash Brokerage, we have partnered with carriers who are willing to consider HIV risk candidates.  The best candidates: 

  • Are between the ages of 35-60 
  • See an infectious disease physician
  • Have a minimum 3-5 year of ART compliance
  • Are negative for Hepatitis B and C 
  • Don’t have any co-morbid factors, such as coronary artery disease, diabetes or depression 
  • Have maintained favorable and consistent CD4 and viral loads

 

Reach Out

At Ash Brokerage, you have a dedicated staff of experienced and well versed underwriters available to answer your questions regarding your clients with HIV. Our HIV Questionnaire can help guide your conversation with clients by obtaining the details essential for an accurate assessment. 

 

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.

 

Learn More

Ash HIV Questionnaire: https://ashcmsstorage.blob.core.windows.net/media//Docs/uw/impairment/HIV.pdf

1Centers for Disease Control, HIV Transmission: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/transmission.html

2CDC, Living With HIV: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/livingwithhiv/index.html

3Aidsmap, Viral Load: https://www.aidsmap.com/Viral-load/page/1327496/

Ask an Underwriter: What should I know about breast cancer?


Protection

Do you know somebody with Breast Cancer? It’s highly likely that you or somebody you know has been diagnosed with breast cancer at some point.  

 

The Facts

In 2017 alone, it is estimated that more than 300,000 new cases of invasive/non-invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the United States; this does not include the more than 3.1 million women who are currently being treated or have completed treatment. And, it’s not just women who are affected. A man has a 1 in 1,000 risk of developing breast cancer; in 2017, nearly 2,500 men will be diagnosed with this disease.1

 

A diagnosis of breast cancer is not a death sentence. There continues to be a decline in deaths from breast cancer every year, thanks to early detection and improvements in treatment. Breast cancer cannot be prevented, but early detection is paramount. Mammography continues to improve and is the gold standard for breast cancer screening because it can detect breast cancer up to two years before a tumor can be felt by you or your doctor.  

 

Family History

Genetic testing has played a huge role with early detection in those individuals with a family history of breast cancer. Abnormal BRCA1/2 genes accounted for 1 out of every 10 cases of breast cancer. If you have been found to have BRCA1/2 mutation, you have an 80 percent risk of developing breast cancer during your lifetime. These mutations are rare in the general public, but testing should be considered when there is a strong family history of breast cancer.2

 

Underwriting

What does this all mean for your clients’ chances of securing life insurance? The continued increase in survival with breast cancer has resulted in lower mortality rates. Carriers are continually re-evaluating their manuals when it comes to breast cancer, giving more survivors the opportunity to secure affordable life insurance.  

 

Still, many factors need to be taken into consideration for underwriting. Ash Brokerage is here to help.  To help assist you in gathering the needed information, Ash has developed a Breast Cancer Client Questionnaire. Give our experienced underwriting staff a call to discuss your case.  

 

Learn More

1BreastCancer.org, U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics: http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics

 

2American Cancer Society, “Breast Cancer Risk Factors You Cannot Change”: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/risk-and-prevention/breast-cancer-risk-factors-you-cannot-change.html

 

Breast Caner Underwriting Questionnaire: https://ashcmsstorage.blob.core.windows.net/media//Docs/uw/impairment/Cancer-Breast.pdf

 

About the Author

With the majority of her 20-year brokerage insurance career spent as an underwriting advocate to a diverse customer base, Kim Schrass has built long-lasting partnerships throughout the industry. The depth of her knowledge coupled with her competitive spirit of winning have earned her significant credibility among her customers and peers alike. 

Underwriting Breast Cancer