Benefits of Life Insurance

Childhood lessons make impressions for life

Steve O'DellI grew up in the insurance business and have a dad who’s been an agent with another company for 30 years. I started in the business when I was 22 and joined American Family last year. My dad taught me the true role of an insurance professional.

As a kid, I would watch him interact with customers after school, and I even tagged along with him to funerals. At the time, I was often bored, but as I got older I started to see and understand things differently. He was, and remains, a trusted adviser in the community.

I grew up in a small town, so my sister and I would walk to his office after school and do our homework in his conference room. I was about 10 or 11 years old at the time – old enough to have a very basic understanding of what insurance is (mostly auto insurance -- when there’s a car accident, an insurance company pays to fix it).

One day, I got a very real and emotional understanding of what my dad did for a living. My sister and I walked down the hall to his conference room and passed his office on the way. The office door was closed, but I could hear voices of adults and small children. My sister and I could hear muffled sounds coming from his office. It sounded like a woman crying and little kids whimpering. 

When his office door opened, I peeked down the hallway to see who was in there with him. It was a woman and her two children (3 and 5 years old). The woman was very emotional and you could tell she was crying. Her kids were holding onto her pant leg, while my dad gave the woman a big hug.

After they left, I went into dad’s office and asked him why the woman was crying. My dad had his back to me in his chair and as he turned around I realized he was pretty upset as well. He looked at me (I’ll never forget the emotion in his face) and said, “Son, that woman and her children lost their husband and dad in a car accident last week. I just told them that the mortgage was paid off, the cars were paid off, the kids’ college was paid for and mom could stay home and raise the children.”

Dad later told me the man who died hadn’t told his wife he had purchased such a large life insurance policy. Apparently, Dad greeted the woman at the funeral and told her she needed to come by his office when she was ready. She thought her husband had enough life insurance for the burial and maybe a little more. She had no idea there would be enough to pay off the mortgage, cover the kids’ college educations and supplement her income.

That experience has always stayed with me. It’s not only a reminder of how precious life is, but how important life insurance is. I believe it’s my job to bring up the subject with all my customers, educate them about life and provide life insurance options to meet their needs.

I still get a little emotional telling this story – even though I’ve told it a thousand times!  

Posted by Steve ODell on Tue, Nov 19 2013 10:03 am

Life Insurance Protects Tomorrow’s Needs For Today’s Children

Vicki Wagener My daughter, Kailey, was just six years old and learning to ride a bike without training wheels when her father passed away.

He had a high-risk job as a federal law-enforcement agent involving a lot of overseas travel. While life-threatening danger was always part of his job, he died unexpectedly of heart disease. He was only 46.

His death was a complete surprise. He worked out regularly, ate healthy, and had annual physicals. He had never been diagnosed with any heart conditions and never showed any signs of heart issues.

Unfortunately, he didn’t believe in life insurance.

Every time I brought up the subject, he didn't want to talk about it. Although we divorced the year before his death, part of the agreement was that he purchase life insurance for Kailey’s financial support in case of his death. Knowing his beliefs, I didn’t force the issue.

When he passed away, Kailey received some funds from his life insurance and 401(k) through work. These have been invested and will help pay tuition when she goes to college. Fortunately, we don’t have to use this money for day-to-day expenses.

As an insurance agent, this has shown me personally how important it is to consider rising college costs when families calculate their future financial needs with respect to providing financial security to their family.

I’m even more passionate when I think about the future and not just the present. According to the College Board and a May 13, 2013 New York Times article, tuition and fees at state colleges increased 72 percent – 29 percent for nonprofit colleges – from 2001 to 2011. If something should ever happen to a parent who plans on sending their children to college, a well thought out life insurance plan can help their family realize that dream.

No life insurance policy can replace the loss of a loved one. It can however, replace their earning power to ease future financial challenges.

For the sake of your family’s future plans and dreams, talk about life insurance today. Eight years ago, I learned the hard way that tomorrow may be too late. 

Posted by Vicki Wagener on Fri, Sep 20 2013 2:14 pm

Buy life insurance when you’re young and healthy — and keep it in force

Peg and her two sons.When my sons were just six and seven years old, I became a divorced, single mother. Having worked in insurance previously, I was aware of the importance of life insurance and bought a universal life insurance policy for myself to protect my family financially. 

Unfortunately, just five years later, circumstances changed, which added some extra financial burden to my budget. I needed funds and cashed in the policy. Two years after that, I began my American Family career with a now-retired agent and purchased life insurance again, this time for myself and both of my sons. Sometime later, another priority came up, I needed discretionary funds, and I decided to let the policies lapse.

I've experienced a heart-related health issue, and while I’ve improved to “mildly affected” status, I was also diagnosed as an adult diabetic, as a result of one medical test. I live a healthy life today with no real problems. 

However, in a nutshell, due to a combination of factors, including not completing medical testing recommended by my cardiologist to help prove insurability because of the expense, I decided not to pursue obtaining life insurance again. As a result, I am not able to provide the financial safeguards through life insurance that I would like for my sons.

Because of the value I place in the benefits of life insurance and understanding the importance of insurability while young and healthy, I did purchase 10-year level term life insurance policies for both my sons, and kept the payments paid and the policies active. Over time, I also began the process of converting a portion of the term policies to purchase 20-pay whole life insurance policies for them. I’m thankful that I did.

I never imagined my son, who is now 27, would have a major seizure out of the blue at age 21. To this day there is no definite reason why it happened, but he’s now diagnosed with epilepsy. Thankfully, my son is on the best seizure meds available, and for all intents and purposes he’s a healthy, active, young man. Although still insurable, it’s comforting to know that he already has life insurance in place.

We’re really enthused about life insurance here at the Michele Weber Agency. As a life-licensed American Family agent assistant, I use my personal experiences to tell the story when selling life insurance in our office. I believe my first-hand knowledge is appreciated by everyone, especially younger, newly-married folks.  

I tell my customers – and it’s my message to you as well – buy life when you’re young and healthy, and keep it in force. That way, in case something happens to you that limits or prohibits you from purchasing more life insurance later in life, you will at least have some life insurance in place. 

I like how American Family Life Insurance Company is creating easy-to-apply-for products for busy customers. The auto-life discount, when applicable, is also nice to discuss. The important thing is to get thinking about and making life insurance part of our lives.

Posted by Peg Moriarity on Tue, Sep 10 2013 2:24 pmPeg Moriarity is an agent assistant for American Family Insurance in Geneseo, Ill.

Although you can’t see the future, plan for it anyway

Tamera and her dadThe 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.

Posted by Tamera Sevilla on Fri, Apr 19 2013 6:20 amTamera Sevilla is an agent assistant for American Family Insurance

Life insurance is about family

Terry (center) and her siblings and mother (right) during the life celebration surprise party held for her father​As a life-licensed agent assistant, I’ve always believed in the value of life insurance as a way to financially protect families. But in my Hispanic community, life insurance is not in our culture and is often difficult for some to believe in, understand or even talk about.

Because I’ve been in the insurance business for quite a few years, I understand life insurance. Unfortunately my close-knit Hispanic family had to be educated by experience. Eight years ago, my uncle, (my father’s brother) passed away after a massive stroke. He didn’t have medical insurance or a life insurance policy, and all of his children had to get together and pay for his medical bills and funeral expenses. My cousins still have outstanding bills they continue to pay many years after he passed away.

After my uncle died so suddenly, I talked to my father and siblings about the need for my father to purchase life insurance. A retired dentist/small business owner, my father was 62 and working a part-time job without health insurance. After his brother’s family’s experience, my father was open to it and we all agreed it was the right thing to do. We were able to purchase an American Family Life Insurance Company whole life 10-year/$100,000 policy with a term rider although my father had controlled diabetes and was overweight. My brothers, sisters, father and I all contributed to the premiums as a family.

Four years later, in August 2011, while the rest of the family was in Guadalajara, Mexico, celebrating my mom’s 60th birthday, my father fell ill and was hospitalized in the Seattle area. Without experiencing advanced symptoms except a headache, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 terminal cancer. 

Our family was shocked.

After discussion, my father opted to use the accelerated death benefit rider on his policy, and received 75 percent of the benefit proceeds in advance. Until he passed away on Nov. 11, 2011, he was able to live the last two and a half months spending quality time with friends and family in Mexico, including a huge life celebration surprise party we organized for him. The policy also paid for his chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and other medical bills and funeral expenses, all without burdening my mother and our family.

I am thankful for the opportunity this life insurance gave our family. Without it, my father’s diagnosis, illness and passing would have been even more devastating. My story is bittersweet, but I believe in life insurance because I have lived it. That’s why I think it’s worth telling you.

Editor’s note: Need more info? 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.

Posted by Terry Redrick on Fri, Feb 22 2013 7:58 am
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