Life Happens – A Real Life Story From My Client & Friend
My husband was 44 years old…and I had just turned 40…when out of the blue he had a stroke one day. That was 23 years ago. Our children were 10 and 7. As a busy cardiologist, he appeared to be the epitome of good health. He practiced what he preached by eating healthy and exercising often. To say his stroke was a shock to us is a major understatement.
We were not particularly financially savvy prior to this incident nor did we have any true grasp of insurance. In fact, our lives were so busy that getting together to discuss insurance with an agent represented more of a chore than anything else. But by some sheer fortune of fate, and the foresight and crusade of a dedicated agent, we did make the time to get together and fortunately purchased six whole life policies and a disability policy for my husband, as well as a buy out policy for his medical practice. This was done just a little over two years before my husband’s stroke. To us, life insurance policies were just something to get to protect ones family in case of a premature death. We never contemplated the enormous lifetime impact a disability could have on us, nor did we appreciate the financial sophistication of insurance, and how many ways it can be structured to ones own advantage, depending upon circumstances. As it turns out, it was not long before we would find out…and it is truly the best and most important purchase we have ever made. I shudder to think how devastatingly different our life would have been had we not had the financial security of our insurance to carry us through all the trials and tribulations of the past two decades. It continues to be a great source of financial stability and freedom for our future as well.
Since the first incident, my husband has had three more strokes, an angioplasty, and four grand mal seizures. All this injury to his body, and particularly his brain, has taken its toll. There was no way he could work. At the time of the first stroke 23 years ago, he was the managing partner of a busy cardiology practice. We had all the trappings and expenses of a successful physician’s lifestyle. Fortunately, not only did he have the disability policy with a cost of living increase to age 65 (the highest age available at the time), he also had the six whole life policies with accrued cash guarantees, and best of all a waiver of premium for each of the policies if disabled. In addition, the buy out insurance policy eased the way for his partner to buy out his equity share of the practice with a lump sum. We were fortunate to have had the insight to obtain long term care insurance as well for both of us. The onset of illness at such a young age means there is a good chance my husband may need to use his, and with the enormous cost of health care, it is critical to our financial stability that we are both covered for long term health care, either at home or at a facility, in case we ever need to use it.
The monthly check we received from the disability policy enabled us to maintain our lifestyle all these years. We were able to stay in our home, which is located in an affluent country club community, as well as afford our children all the advantages and education we desired for them to have. There is so much upheaval and worry when a family suffers this type of trauma that I can’t even imagine what it would be like to worry about paying bills, or selling our home, all at the same time.
Time continued to march on, and the cash balance in our whole life policies continued to grow beyond the guaranteed amounts. That too turns out to be a blessing…as we were about to experience another wave of the “unimaginable”. Due to the fact that we had a disability check that more than covered our expenses each month, we were able to invest our savings. My husband was no longer capable of investing, so I found myself in unfamiliar territory taking over the management of our investments. I took the advice of people I believed were wiser than myself, and found myself in the dismal position during the collapse of our economy in 2008, of having lost our entire portfolio of investments. My plan had been to watch the cash multiply in my husband’s whole life policies but never intended to touch that money, as I believed our savings would grow to a substantial amount, enough to carry us through in our later years. It seems that life never quite works out the way one intends it to. Certainly it does not in our lives. Thank goodness for those whole life policies that have been accruing interest the past 23 years and are now worth a substantial amount…enough for us to live quite nicely on to a ripe old age.
There is a moral to this story. And that is…if it can happen to us, it can happen to anyone. As I’ve previously stated, my husband is a physician and appeared to be healthy. He has access to any doctor in the country and yet no one is able to diagnose what his illness is…although they suspect it is an obscure autoimmune illness. Who would have ever imagined such a thing? I am just so incredibly grateful that we somehow had the presence of mind at such a young age to protect our finances and our future. To have multiple policies in this situation has given us benefits that are immeasurable. And to think that we could have easily been one of the millions of families that don’t even have one policy in place if we had not taken the time to do a little due diligence and meet with an expert advisor. Our insurance policies have proven to be the only thing we have been able to consistently count on over the years. I can’t stress enough how important it is to plan for the ‘unimaginable” by having adequate life and disability insurance, as well as long term care insurance, and an expert insurance advisor who cares and guides you properly.