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.
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.
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.
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
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
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:
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.
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.
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/
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Do you know the top two leading causes of death among men in the United States? If you answered heart disease and cancer, you are correct!1 What you may not know is that prostate cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer among men. Currently, nearly 2.9 million American men are living with the disease, and the American Cancer Society estimates that in 2017, 161,360 men will be told they have prostate cancer.2 With these statistics, there is a high probability you will encounter the opportunity to protect a prostate cancer survivor, if you haven’t already.
As a result of increased preventative screening to include Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) – normal values between zero and four – digital rectal exam (DRE), and advancement in treatments, early detection is naturally higher.
When Prostate Cancer is diagnosed, usually through a biopsy procedure, a specific stage will be assigned. The staging refers to the extent of the cancer (how much cancer is present and how far it has spread), stage I-IV. Staging is a big piece of the puzzle in underwriting, along with a Gleason Score, which is based on the tumor pattern the pathologist sees.
All of these factors have improved many life insurance carriers’ underwriting guidelines, leading to decreased postponement periods and more favorable ratings. The key to successfully insuring your prostate cancer survivor is understanding what information is important to find the very best solution.
Two important pieces of information will be whether or not they are in full remission/cancer free and for how long (month/year the remission was established). The longer your client has been cancer free, with regular follow-up and testing, the more favorable their offer may be.
For most life insurance carriers to give consideration of someone who has a history of prostate cancer, the client must fully complete treatment (surgery, radiation, chemo) and often the carrier will require a waiting period, referred to as a postponement period. The extent of the rating and duration of postponement varies depending heavily on the stage of the prostate cancer, type of treatment, and date of last treatment. Risk philosophy also varies from carrier to carrier based on the reinsurance manual used or the carrier’s own proprietary guidelines.
With increased early detection, we are seeing more and more cases with these considerations. Active surveillance or watchful waiting means the client’s physician is treating them by regularly monitoring the client’s lab markers (PSA, CEA, etc.) on an interval basis and closely monitoring PSA velocity.
This treatment option may be elected with a first-time diagnosis or biochemical recurrence. A biochemical recurrence happens when the PSA levels transition from undetectable to detectable, generally increasing, and may occur among men treated with radical prostatectomy or radiation for localized prostate cancer. These clients require careful consideration on an individual basis with the most favorable being age 65 or older, initial diagnosis Gleason Score of six or less, availability of favorable PSA trending documented over several years, and being three or more years out if previously treated.
Let Ash Brokerage assist you with your next Prostate Cancer case. To simplify fact-finding, use our Prostate Cancer Questionnaire. We leverage our experience, carrier relationships and resources to identify viable solutions based on your client’s individual circumstances and insurance needs. Reach out to your underwriting team for information or assistance.
1Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/lcod/men/2014/index.htm
Ash Brokerage Underwriting Questionnaire:http://go.ashbrokerage.com/rs/535-YRX-827/images/Cancer-Prostate.pdf
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.
What is it that we get spooked so easily by challenges? Something changes, or becomes a little difficult, and we prefer to complain, or just avoid the problem completely.
Well, I believe inside every challenge lies an opportunity. Recently, I talked with Mike McGlothlin (Ash’s EVP of retirement and one of the most respected guys in the annuity business) about why so many advisors are running away from a certain challenge rather than running toward it.
The challenge we discussed? Tax-deferred assets. I’m blow away by the number of advisors who have NO IDEA they can turn tax-deferred gains into tax-free benefits. Yes, you read that correctly. Tax-deferred into TAX-FREE. I’ll give you a couple examples of what I’m talking about.
You can take an existing, nonqualified annuity and do what’s called a 1035 exchange, moving those funds into a linked-benefit product for long-term care. Your clients’ asset is leveraged into a larger pool of benefits, which are tax-free. We call this “transferring the risk” because you’re shifting the risk of long-term care expenses to an insurance company, rather than leaving that risk on your clients’ retirement assets (and subsequently taking a hit with taxes on their pent-up gain).
Non-qualified annuities are great accumulation vehicles for many reasons – multiple investment options, tax deferral and guaranteed income for life. However, a highly appreciated annuity is one of the worst assets to have on your personal balance sheet at death. Controlling the tax – the amount and the timing – is a critical factor to a successful legacy strategy. You need to have the conversation with all your clients about controlling tax at distribution, regardless if that comes during their lifetime or at death.
By using these strategies, you’re accomplishing multiple things at once:
If you’re avoiding your clients’ tax-deferred assets because you’re afraid of the taxes on their pent-up gains, then you’re missing the boat. Better yet, you should just get your own boat because this might be the next “blue ocean.”
Mike and I dove deeper into this topic during a webinar Sept. 21. If you client has ANY tax-deferred asset, you need to watch this replay.
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