When applying for a large life insurance case, it all comes down to underwriting. It’s part science, part gut feeling, but the underwriter can’t consider all the facts unless you provide them.
A cover letter can be the key to getting insurance issued. It helps differentiate your case while providing underlying details around financial needs, medical history and lifestyle.
This is your opportunity to influence the underwriter and explain why your client is a good risk to insure. A good cover letter will:
EXPLAIN THE NEED
What is the purpose(s) for the requested insurance coverage? Paint a clear picture and be detailed.
JUSTIFY THE AMOUNT
How was the amount of coverage determined? Explain your process and substantiate it.
EXPLORE FINANCIAL DETAILS
How will the policy be funded? Communicating the complete financial picture is KEY to getting a policy issued and some cases may involve full financial statements.
DISCLOSE EXISTING COVERAGE
What other in-force and applied-for insurance exists? Include clear ownership and beneficiary designations, amounts, and information on any policies that will be replaced.
VALIDATE PRODUCT SELECTION
Why did you choose this product? Set the expectation of the quoted rate class and why you chose it.
REVEAL UNDERWRITING CONSIDERATIONS
What critical lifestyle factors exist? Share the underlying facts up front – favorable or not. It’s better to form an opinion, rather than change the opinion of an underwriter. Include details such as exercise, diet, preventative medical care, and longevity of parents, as well as non-medical items such as foreign travel and avocations.
CREATE A CONNECTION
What personal details are relevant? Establish your relationship and don’t be afraid to include commentary on key facts. Make it known this is a good risk to insure.
When reviewing your letter, it’s important to think like an underwriter. Ask these questions one last time:
If the insurance is related to a business, the letter needs to extend beyond the basics, including tax forms, an overview of ownership/beneficiary structure, detailed financials and more.
Your Ash Brokerage underwriting and case management teams are partners in client advocacy. Each of us has unique roles and talents. But, we’re here for the same reason: We’re in the business of caring.
Every day, we show up and get to work, fighting for your clients. When advisors need strategic problem solvers who go beyond what’s expected, time after time, we’re their first call.
Highly trained and experienced in both medical and non-medical underwriting challenges, our team has a diverse insurance industry background, from brokerage to home office, including an on-staff medical director, a registered nurse and strong relationships with the underwriting teams at insurance carriers.
Give us a try on your next case and see why we don't just process cases - we compete to win.
This post covers a new tool on the Ash Producer Portal. Log in now to try it for yourself!
Fluidless, accelerated, express, simplified – no matter the words you use, one thing is certain: More and more insurance companies are offering streamlined underwriting processes.
How do you keep track of them all? How do you know if your clients qualify? Well, we figured it out – so you don’t have to.
Ash Brokerage is proud to introduce the Fluidless Underwriting Filter. We’ve taken the programs and requirements from leading carriers and put them into one easy-to-use tool. In just seconds, you can see if your client qualifies for expedited underwriting.
We see far too many clients going through full underwriting when it’s just not needed. If your clients don’t have major medical issues, there’s a good chance they could qualify for one of these programs – and get insurance in days, not months. Why wouldn’t you check?! You’ll potentially save your clients from the hassle of an exam, and you’ll save your business valuable cycle time.
There are no exams. No samples. No hassle. No kidding!
Have questions? Or clients who don’t qualify for fluidless options? We’re here for you! No matter the challenges of your case, our underwriting team is committed to the mission of insuring each client you bring our way. Highly trained and experienced in both medical and non-medical underwriting, we’re your advocates every step of the way.
Access requires logging in to the Ash Brokerage Producer Portal. If you have a password, click here to enter your username and password, and you'll be taken directly to the Filter.
Try It Now
If you have single sign-on, connect through your company page as usual, then click the banner on the homepage (or click Fluidless Underwriting Filter from the Quotes menu).
Nowadays, we have an “awareness month” for just about anything. Well, May is no exception. In our industry, May is known as Disability Insurance Awareness Month. Everyone in the business is out there focusing on getting the word out in May. It gets me to wonder, why are we not talking about disability insurance every month?
For some, disability insurance is their primary business, but those advisors are few and far between. A typical advisor may discuss disability insurance as a reactive topic. But, as a wise man once said, if your wait for a client to bring up their need for disability insurance, it's too late. They're probably already uninsurable.
As experts, we have a responsibility to educate the millions of workers in this country on not just their need, but the flip-side of that coin … What would their life look like without income protection? That visual is quite disconcerting.
I’m a believer in real-life stories resonating most with people. Just this morning, I was searching for content to post on a social networking site, and I came across a video that made me pause.* Here was this young guy, just starting his professional career, otherwise healthy, and BAM! While he was crossing the street, he was hit by a drunk driver. Thankfully, he survived, but the repercussions were catastrophic. He spent a considerable amount of time in the hospital, had endless amounts of rehab, and is still not fully recovered. He has residual effects from the accident, and even though he is mostly recovered, he is still unable to work.
Thankfully, this young person understood the importance of individual disability insurance and had purchased policies while he was healthy. Unfortunately, he is in the minority. Having this coverage has allowed him to focus more on his recovery, and not so much on the strain of the unexpected accident.
People don't believe they will become disabled. It’s an inherent flaw in each of us. We see other people have medical issues, or get into catastrophic and tragic accidents, but we will refuse to see that we are one action away – one car ride, one cross of a busy street, one fall from a ladder, one major diagnosis – from something happening to us.
Talk about disability insurance. All year long. Talk about it with each of your clients who are working full-time and rely on their paycheck. Ask the tough questions – you may uncover more ways you can help your friends, family and clients. Disability insurance is much more than adding a revenue stream to your portfolio. It’s more than premium. It’s about protecting your client’s most valuable asset – their ability to earn a paycheck.
Meghan Cormany, sales development specialist for disability insurance, helps provide sales concepts and solutions to advisors, so they may add value and protection to their clients. Meghan has been an integral part of the Ash Brokerage DI team since 2008 and is a leader in disability sales.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published on the Ash Brokerage blog in 2015. To date, it's the most popular post on our website. Why? We think it's because our underwriters aren’t afraid to discuss a challenging and potentially taboo topic that's becoming relevant to more of your clients every single day. The piece below has been updated to reflect changes since the original was posted. If you have any questions or concerns about underwriting, don't be afraid to ask our team! They'll always find an answer.
Marijuana use is a hot and evolving topic in life insurance underwriting. For those of us who’ve been around the insurance block a time or two, we can certainly remember the days when any type of marijuana use resulted in an automatic decline. Today, the answer isn’t so cut and dry.
To understand the topic, look at today's legal treatment of marijuana:*
As of March 2018, 29 U.S. states, plus the District of Columbia, have laws that legalize marijuana in some form
Nine states – Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Vermont – as well as D.C., have adopted the most liberal laws, which legalize marijuana for recreation use
Several more states are either considering legislation or potential ballot measures in 2018
In recent years, our industry has increased acceptance of applicants using marijuana recreationally and for medicinal purposes. We have seen offers from best class nonsmoker to decline.
Minimal use is acceptable with some carriers; while moderate to daily use may result in a decline. Multiple factors impact risk assessment for applicants using marijuana, including:
Amount and frequency of marijuana used
Method of delivery into the body
Underlying condition for which marijuana was prescribed
Other potentially related factors: avocations, driving record and occupation
Some carriers will offer smoker rate classes to an applicant who smokes marijuana, while others will offer nonsmoker rates if use is minimal and potentially preferred rates if the client otherwise qualifies.
Applicants with a valid marijuana prescription to treat symptoms of an impairment may be assessed an additional rating for their impairment. Certain impairments or co-morbid conditions will result in an automatic decline, even if the applicant has a valid prescription or lives in a state which has legalized recreational marijuana.
Applicants with a history of alcohol or drug treatments, or applicants currently using multiple recreational drugs, are considered an unfavorable risk. Likewise, applicants with significant mood disorders and past criminal activity are also considered unfavorable.
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, can be derived from hemp or marijuana. CBD products created from marijuana have very high levels of THC, therefore applicants using CBD products created with marijuana will fall under the carrier’s guideline for marijuana use. Applicants using CBD products produced from hemp will not be considered as marijuana users.
Other things to note for underwriting:
Today’s insurance labs cannot measure quantity of use, nor how the marijuana was delivered into the body
Some carriers automatically test for marijuana, while others will reflex the test as deemed necessary
Most carriers will request an attending physician statement (APS) and/or copy of the valid prescription for applicants being treated with medical marijuana
Marijuana sales remain illegal at the federal level, but the marijuana industry is growing like a very profitable weed. According to Tom Adams, managing director of BDS Analytics, national marijuana sales will rise to $11 billion in 2018, and to $21 billion in 2021.*
With the federal government still viewing marijuana sales as illegal, almost every insurance carrier will not offer insurance on any employee of a marijuana farm or dispensary, or owners of farms or dispensaries. As of today, only a small handful of traditional life insurance carriers will consider select clients on an individual basis for personal coverage only.
Since there are so many variables influencing the underwriting decision for both recreational and medical marijuana users, it’s impossible to recommend a carrier without having all the facts. The good news is at Ash Brokerage, you have a dedicated staff of seasoned underwriters available to answer your questions regarding marijuana usage and assist you every step of the way. We’d welcome the opportunity to talk with you about your client’s specific needs.
Additionally, the Ash Brokerage website has numerous impairment questionnaires, including a marijuana questionnaire, which are useful in evaluating medical, financial or avocation risk. They’ll help you uncover potential issues before collecting a formal application, and ensure your call with your Ash underwriter is productive.
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.
Ash Brokerage Questionnaire: http://go.ashbrokerage.com/WC2018-04-UW-8151_LP-Content.html
*CNN Money, “The U.S. legal marijuana industry is booming,” Jan. 31, 2018: http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/31/news/marijuana-state-of-the-union/index.html
At the end of 2017, I shared some meaningful statistics about the impact our industry/business has on so many lives. It prompted me to pause and start asking more questions about why we’re really in this business. To be truthful, I’ve been frustrated by the anemic growth the industry has experienced in protection products.
I’d like to start with a couple of questions: Is every family and business you serve ready for one of life’s moments that could strike at any time? Have you proactively put a risk management strategy in place for each of your clients?
I ask that you read this very closely as I hope it inspires you to act.
Toward the tail-end of last year, I reached out to our friends at Protective Life. I asked them a question they hadn’t been asked before (much to my surprise): “How many death claims have been delivered because of our long-standing relationship?”
It took about 90 days to get the information sorted and assembled, but I just received a file from them and goosebumps ensued – as did a feeling of connection and pride to our work and this industry. I couldn’t believe that over the course of our relationship with Protective Life, we have delivered 453 claim checks to beneficiaries totaling more than $152 million – $152,582,605, to be exact. And that’s with just one of the carriers we work with.
What was sobering for me was looking at the names on the list, knowing that someone cared enough about their family, their business or their favorite charity to own insurance. I thought of the lives that were impacted. It also led me to notice the names of the advisors who helped place that coverage. They had the courage to have the conversation. I tried to envision those conversations, as well as the tears and words that were exchanged when the advisor delivered the claim check.
I know what it’s like, as I’ve delivered several of those checks myself. Trust me, people aren’t talking about their asset allocation, rebalancing and tax management in those moments.
I’m trying to figure out why more advisors don’t have conversations around planning for the moments in life we’re all going to deal with. It just seems the focus today is on AUM growth – life insurance and other protection products can wait for another time. All advisors are going to have clients who pass away, become disabled, need long-term health care or live longer than expected. So why aren’t these conversations taking place with each and every client?
I know insurance is a very personal thing to discuss, and there are a lot of moving parts. I also know the process of acquiring coverage isn’t straight-through and simple. But that’s where we come in.
We are your risk management partner/consultant. We will be here to help you design, implement, place and service your clients’ policies. You don’t have to get your hands dirty; we do the heavy lifting. You just need to bring your heart and courage to the planning table.
I will end my diatribe by saying “thank you” for giving us the opportunity to serve you and your clients. Go out and make it happen! You will be making a difference in someone’s life.
© 2018 Ash Brokerage LLC.