General Life Insurance Topics

Expression of Appreciation for Life

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In this crazy mixed-up world we live in right now it is easy to get caught in the web that everything is going to pot. Much of our attention is given to the newscasts and newspaper reports of ailments circumventing the globe. People dying in countries we have never heard of due to illnesses unknown as well. Normal routines of life disrupted by anxiety that we might be the next casualty or we might be the cause of a tragedy in someone else’s life. Decisions being made for us by some whose credibility is questionable at best, and by public hysteria regarding social interaction forcing some decisions far beyond a reasonable person’s judgment. The response to this ailment should help us focus on the realities of life and our mature response to them.

A notable businessman and religious leader Gordon B. Hinckley described our present circumstance with this insightful observation. 

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. 

“Life is like an old time rail journey, delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas, and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign Nov. 1984:86) 

He drew this observation from his experience as a train conductor on the Denver Railway line running from Utah into the high country of Colorado where there were long tedious pulls up the mountain side with the engine belching smoke and cinders as it struggled to pull the heavy load up the mountain ascent and then accelerated to an exhilarating speed as it descended into the flat prairie country of middle America. 

Most jobs are like that, and the insurance industry is no different. As an office staff knows, each day brings with it monotonous tasks of answering phones, filing insurance papers, answering customers’ questions regarding billings and insurance coverages, soothing disgruntled claimants, taking the blame for things you have no control over, and who knows how many disruptions of things you think are important to complete someone else’s priorities. It’s from 9 to 5 with a repeat performance tomorrow.These discouraging encounters have a tendency to cause one to forget why they chose to work in this venue at all. Yet, every once in a while your extra mile effort will bring a positive response from a patron. They will describe you to someone else as being the most caring conscientious assistant in the whole insurance industry. Sometimes even your supervisor will surprise you with an unexpected act of kindness as she covers for you while you get to go to your daughter’s 5th grade dance recital where she plays the role of a dancing flower.

What about those who are charged with the responsibility of paying claims? Are they the heartless unfeeling individuals they are sometimes made out to be? How do they maintain the balance between human empathy and the sterile requirements of a contract. How do they balance the goal of putting someone back in the same position they were in before the loss with the claimant’s attempt to actually use the contract for betterment? How do they navigate the public sentiment that somehow the paying of premiums is like putting money in the bank for later withdrawal? How often will they hear, “I have paid into this insurance for 20 years and never had a claim and now you are telling me I don’t have any coverage? What is the sense of me paying so long if I can’t get something back?” Again, what a payday for a claims adjuster to hear someone express appreciation after a claim is settled. Contrary to public opinion, adjusters are not trained to cheat or gouge a claimant but are trained to pay what is legally and morally correct. 

How about the life insurance agent who upon attending a party and is asked what he or she does for a living reveals he sells life insurance and the conversation comes to an abrupt halt. It is now like the person wants to find the nearest exit so they can get away before they are trapped by this pariah in the room. No wonder many life salesmen attempt to soften the impact by saying they are financial consultants, sales associates, retirement consultants, or special agents just to get past the initial shock. One of many things human beings don’t like being reminded of, such as their mortality, happens just by the mere mentioning of the life insurance salesman’s profession. The agent must in light of societal attitudes develop a scar tissue for him or her to get past the societal stumbling block. 

One of the beautiful vistas an agent can experience is when he or she is involved in a death claim where the fruits of his or her professional labor is exhibited. The earlier in this career the better for it sets in stone the incredible value of this career. Even this beautiful vista is experienced through the smoke and cinders of an untimely stop along the railroad of life. It comes when the recipient of the labors performed in his or her behalf acknowledges that without those labors food would not be in the kitchen pantry, shoes would not be on the feet of loved ones, college dreams would not be fulfilled, a place from the ravages of life would not be secured, and the peaceful surrounding of familiar sights and sounds would not be provided.

The great payoff is when a minister in his attempt to comfort a grieving husband and father of eight children explains the congregation will bring in casseroles and provide babysitting for the next few days then he asks, “Did you have life insurance on Ruth?” and the bereaving husband holding a life insurance policy in his hands looks at you through teary eyes and exclaims, “Thanks to you doing your job just a few years I can give her what she properly deserves as a memorial to her life.” The teenage daughter thanks you, because with monetary help on its way she can continue to go to school and graduate with her class. No, money cannot reproduce life but it can step in and help fulfill the dreams and desires of a family.

The great payoff when you have a young teenager who just graduated from high school sitting in your office lamenting she can’t figure out a way she will pay for her college since her father and mother had divorced just prior to his death. She did not know that just before her father and mother had divorced, he had changed the beneficiary on his life insurance policy to a trust which was to be activated upon his death, spelling out that the proceeds were to be used for her and her brother’s college expenses. On the fateful Sunday afternoon while working his excavator all alone in the woods and having it roll over on him, extinguishing his life, his plan was activated. Eight years went by from that fateful day to when the agent revealed to the young lady that her father had planned for this occasion and she could, with the help of a trust officer, access those funds and move on with her life. A sweeter hug could not have been shared between two individuals with perhaps a third looking on. No, it didn’t produce life, but it strengthened the bonds of love a daughter had for her deceased father.

Money provided to fund a buy sell agreement upon the retirement of a partner in a car dealership, money to fund a buy sell agreement in an auto part store, funds to assist a young family in purchasing a new home, and funds to supplement a retirement plan are just four other beautiful vistas enjoyed by an insurance agent who never lost sight of his objective of providing economic salvation to those he served. 

One more beautiful vista was experienced when an agent attending a funeral for one of his clients was standing with his grown up daughter of 28 at the grave site. Another client, a logging truck driver by profession, approached them and the agent introduced his daughter to him. Upon her hearing this man was a client, the daughter extended her hand and unexpectedly exclaimed, “Thanks for buying insurance from my Dad. 

Because of you I had clothes and shoes to wear, food to eat, opportunities to travel, a car to drive, and an education to bless my life.” 

This calloused hand and sunburned face of a man just stood there. He didn’t know how to respond and neither did I. He finally just said, “You’re welcome.” I looked at my clients with a whole different perspective from that day on. 

Yes, it is a bumpy road, but thank God He gives us the opportunity to have the ride.