Having a new teen driver in the family can be frightening. Statistically, one in six teens is involved in a car crash within the first year of driving.
When my son got his driver’s license, he was great about putting on his seatbelt. Unfortunately, his passengers weren’t always so responsible. After we began using the Teen Safe Driver program, we caught this kind of behavior, and as a family we talked about how it’s important it is for everyone in a vehicle to be properly restrained.
Sometimes teenagers don’t want to point out such shortcomings to their friends. But with a camera in the car, our son could now let his passengers know they’d be "caught" if they didn’t buckle up. After a discussion on this topic, we never observed un-belted passengers again.
The decision to participate in American Family Insurance'sTeen Safe Driver program was not easy. Our son protested at first. After all, none of his friends had this technology in their cars. If they had, it would have made things a little easier.
Clearly, though, some of his friends would have benefited greatly from the program. On multiple occasions, I’d observed their bad teen driving habits. Our son even commented that some of his friends have been in accidents and received tickets. He’s now 23 years old and is still accident free.
I challenge parents in similar circumstances to find others within their circle of friends to enroll in the Teen Safe Driver program together. That way, not all the pressure is on one parent or teen driver.
It was tough to be the only "bad" parents, but we understood the importance of learning good driving habits early, so we focused on this goal. We stayed tough and told our son that driving is a privilege and not a right. We are assuming the risk by signing for him and providing the insurance, so we have the ultimate say. Plus, he is our child, we are the parents and the parents need to be the ones in charge.
Parenting isn’t always easy. Tough love is part of our job description.
Editor’s note: Tina is an American Family Insurance employee and the mother of a teenage driver who together participated in American Family’s Teen Safe Driver program. As a result, she’s seen firsthand the benefits of this innovative technology that helps monitor and record teens’ driving patterns so they can learn to improve.
The year was 2006. In early spring, my brother Isaiah and I had taken off to Mexico with the Azusa Pacific University "Team Luke" outreach program. Our goal while we were there was to set up mobile clinics to offer basic medical care.
After crossing the border back into California, we received a phone call from my sister informing us our dad had been diagnosed with colon cancer. The loud engine of the old Ford pickup we were driving went silent as we both sat lost in thought of the possibility that this could actually be true. How could the "Superman" in our lives possibly be susceptible to this disease? Needless to say, it was a long trip back.
Flying home the next day, we realized it was not only true but also a lot worse than we all thought. My dad was in stage four of the cancer with no hope for reversal. His options were undergo chemotherapy and live 18 months, or do nothing and live 12 months. Because he only had a short time left and because he didn’t want my 9-year old sister to see him suffer, he opted to not do chemo.
There are a few things in life a 22-year-old child should never have to do and one of those is help your mom pick out your father’s casket when he is days away from death.
Unfortunately, that was my fate. But I remember heading to the funeral home with no worry about the cost of Dad’s funeral because I knew he had life insurance. I only had to think about picking something that I knew he would love but never see.
Dad’s funeral was beautiful for a funeral. My sister sang, my brother read the eulogy and I spoke about how this Assembly of God minister was now rejoicing with his Father in heaven. How we all conjured up the strength to do these things I’ll never know. Dad was escorted to the cemetery by a line of motorcycles (one of his many ministries).
I’m telling this story to let you know that not once did my family have to worry about where the money to take care of the funeral, headstone, mortuary, cards and other expenses was going to come from. The last thing you want to worry about on such a tragic day is where you are going to find the money to take care of everything and to take care of yourself after all is said and done, while the pain of the loss is still so fresh. But Dad left us with the comfort of knowing it was all taken care of through his life insurance.
Death is not something anyone wants to think about, but we all need to. My father not only set my mom up to be financially prepared for a few years, he also instilled in his children the knowledge that we also need to plan for the future with life insurance. The beautiful thing about this story is that it is now 2013 and my mom still has life insurance money to help her. My dad showed his love to her even in death.
Life insurance is so important for everyone – young or old. How much more can you let someone know you love them by insuring their financial future? Our family has seen the full benefit of life insurance, and I hope by reading my story, many more people may be able to reap the benefits as well.
Editor’s note: Need more information about life insurance? Check out our 10 reasons to buy life insurance. Or give our Life Needs Calculator a try for help estimating the right amount of coverage to ensure your dependents are financially stable.
I grew up in Manchester, NH, one of three children raised by a single mom. Times were tough. We didn’t have a lot of money or material possessions.
What we did have was a lot of love.
When I was 15, Mom met a wonderful guy named Jerry. They soon married and life began to take a turn for the better. Jerry quickly became a great role model for us kids. He not only helped us with our schoolwork, but he showed us how to be happy!
With Jerry’s encouragement, I became the first member of my family to go to college. I attended Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH, and graduated with a major in Art Education.
As a student, things fell into place for me and my dreams were now within reach. I attribute it to the power of positive thinking and realized that when we’re happy, our dreams come true! It has a ripple effect.
After I graduated, I had the chance to study in Italy (the best place to experience art and the renaissance!), California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and now Madison, Wis.
Since moving to Madison in 2012, I’ve continued to fulfill my dreams of sharing art and connecting with people. In January, I hosted “Dream Boards” at American Family Insurance’s DreamBank in Madison, which encouraged people to use visualization as a tool in achieving their dreams. I’ve also become a preschool teacher using art to help children every day.
So what do I dream about today? I dream of being an artist and illustrating children’s books. I dream of helping children through art. I dream of having a healthy life and one day raising a family.
Lastly, I dream of traveling to Peru to volunteer at Sembrando Semillas con Yoga where children are taught yoga, art, sustainable farming, and how to lead a balanced and harmonious life.
I’m living proof you should never stop dreaming. Your dreams are out there. All you have to do is reach for them.
Editor’s note: This is part of a Dream Protectors blog feature called Stories From DreamBank, which showcases real-life dreams from visitors to the American Family Insurance DreamBank in Madison, Wis. Visit DreamBank on the Square or online at www.amfam.com/DreamBank.
In January, I had the unique opportunity of traveling to Playa Gigante, Nicaragua, to play softball and share some life-saving cancer-detection techniques.
The trip started as an invitation to play in a softball tournament and share some softball skills and knowledge with the local women. However, members of our group from Oregon have a wide range of life experiences, and we wanted to share those as well.
Among us was a breast cancer survivor who had also lost her mother to breast cancer. She’s a firm believer that early detection and education saved her life. As a group, we made it our mission to deliver as much information about breast cancer as we were able to. Our survivor’s doctor was even able to join us!
As a group, we went through two breast cancer training sessions to prepare for our trip. We also brought training materials to leave in the village. A group of breast cancer survivors in Salem, Ore., even made hospital gowns for us to leave at a local clinic. Not to leave softball out, we also gathered bats, balls, mitts, helmets, visors, shirts and bat bags to leave as well.
We flew into the capital city of Managua and drove two-and-a-half hours to Playa Gigante. When we got there, the women were happy to see us, and we were excited to learn from each other. We even held a breast cancer training session that afternoon!
When our breast cancer survivor told her story, many of the women in the village were very touched. Not only was she sharing her story, but she was healthy and strong. In that area, it is uncommon for people with cancer to survive. The doctor who joined us also shared information about early detection and treatments and later helped train staff at the local clinic.
That weekend we held a softball skills clinic for the local women and girls. On our last full day in the village, we held a tournament among four teams. The local school children cleaned up the field and the entire village came out to watch.
I’ve never experienced anything like Playa Gigante before.
They don’t have many of the things we take for granted like electricity or running water. Many homes have dirt floors and people sleep in hammocks. Cooking is done over an open fire and animals and livestock are free range.
I couldn’t help but notice that life is more stress-free and relaxing compared to the U.S. We have so much yet are so unappreciative as a society.
I realized our trip made a difference for the women of Playa Gigante. I don’t ever doubt the impact one person can have.
Looking back, I’m not sure if we made more of an impression on the women of Playa Gigante or the other way around.
I recently attended the first-ever indoor hailstorm. That’s right – an indoor hailstorm! Why? Every year, hail causes billions of dollars in damage to property and crops. An indoor storm like this can be studied in detail to find ways to make hail-resistant structures and reduce the destruction from hailstorms.
It was an amazing experience. Not only were insurance industry representatives like me there, but national media including “The Today Show,” (which broadcast it live). “The Weather Channel,” “Discovery Channel” and “This Old House” were there as well.
This storm was a test created by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IIBHS) to learn how different building materials withstand a hailstorm’s damage. For five minutes and some 9,000 hailstones, the “storm” pelted a house, a car, outdoor furniture and nearby toys. The only thing missing was a thunderstorm.
To deliver the hailstones with the same intensity as a real storm, IBHS engineers designed a series of multi-barreled hail cannons mounted 60 feet above the research center’s test chamber. When the storm started, the cannons were firing hailstones at the rate of 1,800 per minute at speeds up to 76 mph!
The test structure had different building materials to compare performance. The roof featured asphalt shingles, impact-resistant architectural shingles, metal roofing and metal-over-shingles. Standard vinyl siding and fiber-cement siding were used, as well as vinyl and aluminum windows and aluminum gutters and downspouts. During the demonstration, the entire structure was pelted evenly with hailstones.
IBHS can now study the damage to the different materials. The windshield on the car for example, was shattered, and the test home received significant damage. We also learned while metal roofing does a great job keeping water out and will typically outlast traditional shingles, it shows every little ding from the hail.
American Family supports the work of IBHS because of our commitment to loss prevention. More research is needed to create building materials and techniques that can better withstand damage from storms. Our goal is to make homes safer by building them stronger, not cheaper.
Through our membership with IBHS, American Family helps fund research addressing the impact of hail and other natural disasters, and can lead to the establishment of better building standards. The end result helps manage costs through reduced property insurance losses, which helps keep insurance more affordable for everyone.