The parents thought the main reason they were purchasing life insurance on the wife was to replace her financial worth in the family economic picture in the event of her untimely death. Little could they have appreciated how that decision would affect their 17 year old daughter from missing out on the excitement and joys of her “coming of age” years.
Almost a year to the date of the occurrence of the event described below, an insurance agent sat at the kitchen table with a family discussing the purchase of life insurance for the father.
As the agent completed his interview with the father regarding the amount of insurance he should purchase, he suggested perhaps they should consider for a moment the financial ramifications that would be experienced if the mother were to pass away.
She had just a few weeks before given birth to their seventh child–a beautiful baby boy–and were just now getting used to the changes a newborn brings. She jokingly suggested they couldn’t afford to cover the financial loss but they should at least consider an amount to see them through until the baby would be old enough to help take care of himself. An amount was agreed upon with the agent suggesting they add a double indemnity in the case of accidental death occurring. Applications were underwritten, paid for, and sent for approval. When they were issued, the policies were placed with other papers in safe deposit box. Then it happened.
Late in the evening, a call came to the agent’s home from the oldest daughter stating her Mom had fallen to the kitchen floor after placing some bread in the toaster. Apparently, she was still touching the water faucet when she touched the toaster. Her hands were still wet, causing an electric current to pass from the faucet to the toaster. It caused her heart to go into arrhythmic fibrillation.
The ambulance had arrived and was taking her parents to the emergency room of the hospital, and the children were now headed to the hospital. The agent told her he would meet them there.
Upon arriving at the hospital, the agent saw seven children ranging from a 17 year old daughter to an 11 month old boy all standing in the waiting room alone and frightened by the event. Their church bishop had arrived and was doing the best he could to console them. Nearly an hour passed before the father came into the waiting room. He gathered the children around him and through his own tears advised the children their mother had passed away. He tried to comfort each one of them by saying they would still be a family and they would see their mother again. Those words at that time had little comforting assurance to the grieving children, especially to the 17 year old daughter. As she gathered up the baby and loaded him along with the other children into the car, she realized life would no longer be the same because now being the oldest in the family she would have to take care of her younger siblings. Just before they left, their bishop suggested they have a prayer together, hoping this would help them in their grief.
The agent took the Dad off to the side where he reassured him he would help him through this difficult time and that he would call him in the morning to review procedures for attending to the funeral and paperwork which would need filling out.
The next morning before the agent could make a call, the Dad called him and expressed his deep concern about the value of the life insurance policy. The agent drove to the home of the family where he found the father sitting in the living room holding the life insurance policy of his wife in his hands.
“This isn’t going to help me at all in being able to take care of all these new expenses. It’s only a $1000. What am I going to do?”
The agent showed him how the amount of death benefit was expressed in units with each unit worth $10,000, so Ron saw he was going to be just fine.
Later, it was confirmed by the State Electrical Inspector in the footnotes of his official report it was his opinion there was just enough of an electrical current passing from the toaster to the water faucet to cause the heart to stop beating and therefore death would qualify as being from an accident. This finding immediately doubled the death benefit.
“I can give Ruth the type of burial she deserves and will have resources to attend to my other financial obligations,” was Ron’s response.
Just after the agent explained the coverage to Ron, the bishop arrived and after some niceties the first question the bishop asked was “Did you have any life insurance on Ruth?”
“Because Glen did his job a year ago, I did.”
After we spoke for awhile, the bishop said he would call back to finalize the funeral program and to let Ron know the ladies’ auxiliary in the church would be providing meals for the next two weeks in an effort to lift part of his burden.
It struck the agent that even though people have great compassion, their assistance of casseroles, cookies, and cold salads is temporary, for life must go on leaving the grieving to the ones who suffered the loss. The bishop’s kind words of condolence and the church members’ acts of service rose to their opportunity to serve, but only the fruits of the agent’s labor could bring permanent assistance which softened the grieving process.
To complete this narrative, what happened next left an impression on the insurance agent which affected his complete sales career. Through this one experience he saw the value of the service he rendered and the uniqueness of his profession.
It seems after Ron got home he stayed up late into the night trying to figure out what he was going to do with the immediate financial burden now facing the family. Since the event had happened so suddenly and unexpectedly, no financial preparation had been made. It wasn’t a problem to be faced in six months or even two days but would have to be dealt with as soon as the funeral would be over. After long hours of deliberation, he could only think of having his 17 year old daughter drop out of school to attend to the 11 month old and other under school age children. She could manage the household until Ron could get home from work when he then could pick up the slack. As life altering as it would be for his 17 year old daughter, it was the only solution he could think of so the family could stay together.
While Ron was struggling through the night with what to do, the daughter had spent her own lonely night finding the courage to face the inevitable. In the morning she would volunteer to take on her new role as the surrogate mother. She realized her dream of being the valedictorian of her school, dating her first love, playing her musical instrument with the school band, enjoying being a cheerleader for the athletic events of the school, and hanging out with her friends would have to be put on hold. She had even bought from her babysitting a car so she could transport herself to her many events, and that now would be used to run errands for the household. With that resolve in her mind, she cried herself to sleep.
Fortunately, before she could make her decision known to her father the next morning, the agent had arrived and explained the role life insurance would fill for that family.
Thanks to the proceeds from the life insurance policy, Ron was able to hire a part time housekeeper who would come to the home first thing in the morning and would stay until the older children came home from school. The daughter was able to continue to grow up with the experiences a teenager should have. A life lost, but another life saved.
As unfortunate as the death was in this family, another death in another family provided Ron with a companion two years in the future. A wonderful lady at Ron’s work place lost her husband to death just a few months after Ron’s wife passed away, leaving her with a young teenage son. After a short courtship, they brought their families together as one unit, providing the young three year old with a mother and the young teenage boy a father.
Though you wouldn’t want this sad experience to happen to anyone, an insurance agent would be well served to have such an experience early in his or her career, for it very graphically points out the uniqueness of his or her profession and how important it is that sufficient effort is expended to help fathers and mothers see the problems they face when death comes knocking too early.
An important side note is the fact that the agent is the advocate for the silent voice of the children in the selling process. If in the narrative above the agent had fallen short in getting the parents to act, this story would have turned out very differently. The little boy grew up to be a man and the 17 year old girl became the mother to four children of her own.
In the scheme of things, many life insurance policies will just remain quiet promises never to be used so dramatically, but in their silence among the precious papers they are prepared to answer the call when needed. They will be like the faithful sentinel on the walls of the fort, always at his post.