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Lessons of Summer '98

All agents collect personal 'disaster' stories, usually from their clients who did not buy in time, or did not buy enough, etc. These are the stories to learn from and to use to motivate new people to do what ‘needs to be done’ financially. Stories such as these can usually take years to collect'. Of course I had to be different..... During this summer, my mother-in-law passed away after a lingering illness, one of my best friends who helped me start in the insurance industry also died, my own father suffered (in succession) a heart attack, a quadruple by-pass, a blood clot in the lungs and finally, another of my good friends suffered a breakup of a very special long term relationship. On the other hand, my clients did just fine: they remained healthy, were issued insurance rates lower than I had conservatively proposed and they took long happy vacations. Score so far: 'clients' - 10, 'friends & relatives' - 0!

It was getting to the point that I was considering buying an old pickup truck with an unleashed dog in the back. That way, when the truck wouldn't start and the dog ran away, I could at least write a country song about my summer experiences! Nevertheless each event had a lesson that struck me as being important. My mother-in-law, Anna, was the subject of a prior article of mine. Her long term illness (complete kidney failure and diabetes at age 82) was beginning to reach the financial point where her small estate, painstakingly put together over a lifetime, was going to be eaten up by long term care expenses in just a manner of months (even with our financial help). Her passing saved her the anguish of seeing everything she owned sold to cover her nursing care costs. Insurance is based on our desire to leave something to our kids when we go. Imagine the feeling that you would have had knowing that your estate (property, RRIF, annuities, cash value insurance) would all have to be cashed in simply to survive an illness during your retirement! Estate preservation is not life insurance - it is, 'Living Insurance' (Disability, Long Term Care, Critical Illness). Anna taught me that. My friend, Larry Hartman, was one of the fantastic old breed of insurance salesman. He was a rebel, yet an arch conservative.

When he left the army after WWII he joined the insurance business where he sold only term insurance (when term was a 'bad word') but invested his client's money only in conservative funds in old established insurance companies. In his younger years he enjoyed his scotch and his cigarettes (a lot) and went through two wives and one mistress. Yet during this time he rubbed elbows with Vancouver’s business elite and belonged to the prestigious Vancouver Terminal Club! Towards the end of his life he lost both legs due to diabetes and most tragically lost both his son and grandson in a single car accident.

But he kept on selling. Larry Hartman - definitely not a 1990's type of a guy, but a great friend with a big heart. Larry taught me to enjoy life and overcome the obstacles it throws at you - like this summer. I'll miss your stories, Larry. Also this summer, my Dad (age 76) suffered a heart attack while on his motorboat in Georgian Bay (Ontario). He survived and was taken to an excellent hospital in Michigan where he subsequently underwent a quadruple by-pass operation. He came out of this procedure in excellent condition.... until he had a blood clot lodge in his legs (blood-clots are fairly common in this type of an operation). Worse, there were many more clots formed in his legs - each potentially life threatening if they were to break loose. Medical science intervened and the doctors were able to place a 'filter' in the vein that returns the blood from his legs to his heart. My father is doing very well now.

But I wondered why a man with no prior family or personal history of heart disease, not overweight, eating a good low fat diet, who walks two miles a day cou

ld develop this problem? The doctor’s answer: he was a 'type A' personality. So all you 'driver-drivers' (won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, ‘driven’ people…) out there watch out! I believe a critical illness policy should be in your portfolio! I learned from my Dad not to take anything for granted. My last episode - my friend who lost a very special relationship - was the least life threatening experience suffered by my friends and family this summer. It was still a horrible emotional loss for him just the same. After living together for a long time, his lady just decided to leave him - with no explanation given. This was devastating for him. Unlike each of the other situations, however, there was nothing an insurance broker could do for him.

There is no insurance that I know of that will cover a broken heart. From this I learned that not all personal losses are insurable. The good news is that we do have insurance plans that will cover hearts that fail or try to fail and that we can preserve estates before people die. Now you just have to go out and get it - before you go through a summer like my summer of '98! And that folks is “what I learned this summer”! I hope that you can learn from it too.

Doug McChesney BA, RHU

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