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Elliott Dickson

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Recent Posts

Changes in the Demographics of Strokes

Jul 19, 2020 8:12:51 PM / by Elliott Dickson

This article was originally featured in the June 2020 Issue of OTR and is reprinted with permission of ON THE RISK, Journal of the Academy of Life Underwriting.


Strokes have been classically thought of as a medical problem affecting the elderly. After all, the risk of stroke doubles every decade after age 55 with the majority (75%) of strokes occurring over age 65. The logic behind this is not mysterious: high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol issues and obesity are the traditional risk factors, and these are simply more common in older age groups.

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Life Underwriting Expert Series – Exercise Cardiac Testing: 10 Signs to Watch for

Dec 17, 2019 10:02:47 AM / by Elliott Dickson posted in Underwriting Expert Series

Exercise cardiac testing, or functional stress testing, has been an important assessment tool for many decades now. Most often employed in the medical follow-up of known heart disease or screening for potential heart disease in those with known risk factors, cardiac testing is a common protocol. As life underwriters, we analyze stress tests on a monthly if not more frequent basis.

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Lung Cancer, Non-smokers, and Risk Analysis for Life Underwriters: Expert Series Week 14

Oct 19, 2018 9:07:00 AM / by Elliott Dickson posted in Life Underwriting, Underwriting Expert Series

In this edition of our Underwriters Expert Series, we’re uncovering the risks associated with lung cancer – beyond cigarettes. Learn about other causes of this fatal disease and why life underwriters need to look at more than smoking status for assessment.

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Accounting for Abnormal Kidney Function in Younger Ages – Expert Series Week 6

Apr 6, 2018 9:31:33 AM / by Elliott Dickson posted in Life Underwriting, Underwriting Expert Series

Thanks for joining the sixth week of our Underwriting Expert Series. So far, you’ve learned about several key concepts for life underwriters including underwriting mature ages, the impact of marijuana and the opioid crisis on insurance. This week, Senior Underwriter, Elliott Dickson explores abnormal kidney functions in younger ages.

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Global Trends in Life Insurance [Part 2] How are insurers approaching millennials?

Sep 6, 2017 4:43:17 PM / by Elliott Dickson posted in Underwriting

 In Part 1 of our Global Trends in Life Insurance series, we looked at product innovations in wearable tech, the offering of coverage to HIV-afflicted clients and the switching to non-smoker class rates for marijuana users. In Part 2 of this series, we will focus on millenials and wearable technnology trends, as well as quicker and simple medical testing that can provide instant results.

When it comes to innovation in the life insurance space, developing products that attract the millennial generation seems to be a major trend in the US. And it is something that will likely expand to other areas of the world as the millennial generation gains more buying power. Nonetheless it is definitely on our radar for global trends in life insurance product innovations.

While our friends at Cookhouse Lab are currently tackling this challenge in an innovation sprint, I am going to look at what is currently happening in the market.

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Global Trends in Life Insurance Product Innovations

Aug 25, 2017 1:18:26 PM / by Elliott Dickson posted in Underwriting

The speed of the life insurance industry can be excruciatingly slow. But as new technology emerges, the more agile insurers will move to harness it in the hopes of enhancing existing product lines or constructing new ones altogether. So too is there a need to attract new markets and generations to buy in to life insurance – the baby boomer population is aging, and perhaps that pool of insurance clients has become a bit exhausted.

With the vast majority of the insured population being over the age of 45, the focus must eventually shift to a younger demographic. What are some of the ways that insurers are approaching this? What new products are being employed to appeal to older or substandard risk populations? In this blog I’ll explore what’s making waves in the sea of life insurance ahead.

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What Tests Should Underwriters Reference for Liver Function?

Apr 19, 2017 10:37:18 AM / by Elliott Dickson posted in Underwriting


This is Part III of our Underwriting Liver Function Blog Series

If you tuned into  part II of this liver function series, you had the chance to join the first half of our sing-a-long playlist. And more importantly, learn some of the key tests underwriters should be aware of when working on liver function cases.  Now, let’s wrap up this sing-a-long with a final list of tests all underwriters should reference when underwriting liver function. Get your vocal cords ready!
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Underwriter’s Guide to Measuring Liver Function [A Sing-A-long]

Apr 13, 2017 5:09:27 PM / by Elliott Dickson posted in Underwriting

This is Part II  of our Underwriting Liver Function Blog Series

Remember when the movie Sound of Music taught us ‘when you read you begin with A-B-C and when you sing you begin with Do-Re-Mi’? Even if you haven’t seen the movie I am sure you remember using the ABC song to learn the alphabet. The moral of the story is that songs were and are used to make learning key concepts easier. I figured, why not find out if singing a song (even if it’s in your head) can help underwriters remember key tests to conduct when underwriting liver function. Sounds a little crazy I know, but you’ll be singing along with me in no time!

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Does My Doctor Know How Much I Really Drink?!

Mar 10, 2017 12:14:49 PM / by Elliott Dickson posted in Underwriting

This is Part I of our Underwriting Liver Function Blog Series.

Picture this. You are visiting the doctor for a check-up, answering a slew of questions to help them understand your current state of health. Waiting slowly but surely for that dreaded question (at least for some of us!) to come up... 'How many drinks do you have on average per week?'. At the risk of sounding 'unhealthy' you fudge the numbers slightly - perhaps subtract one or two or four.

Sound like a familiar confession? Perhaps you leave the appointment thinking - does my doctor really know how much I drink? We'll, I can't speak from a doctor's perspective, but as a life underwriter, this information is something I care about getting to the bottom of. This information is critical to our profession in order to be able to determine over-consumption of alcohol  and its effect on the liver.

I'll be sharing a series of blogs on underwriting liver function to provide fellow underwriters with an informative summary of tests to evaluate liver disorders, and what you can infer from them. But before I dive in, let’s answer the question that is on your mind.

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[Underwriting HIV Series] The Intricacies & Concerns for HIV+ Clients

Jun 28, 2016 12:53:36 PM / by Elliott Dickson posted in Underwriting

My colleague recently explored how to change the traditional mindset of life underwriters when assessing the risk of an HIV positive individual. This is just one of the elements the underwriting industry has been tasked to address with the recent introduction of HIV coverage.  Today, I am taking a different angle of this hot topic to explore the intricacies and concerns for underwriting HIV+ cases.

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