Stories Featured in Parents and O Magazines Underscore the Need for Americans
to Plan Ahead for Life’s Uncertainties

Arlington, Va. – August 23, 2011 – Every year nearly 600,000 Americans will die in the prime of their lives, and in most cases they leave behind loved ones who depend on them. For those who planned ahead and had adequate life insurance coverage, the transition for the their surviving family members will be eased by not having to worry about paying for the funeral or where the money will come from to move ahead to the next chapter of their lives. The same cannot be said for the loved ones of those who died with little or no life insurance. In those instances, their grief is often compounded by concerns about how they will survive financially.

realLIFEstories 2011

To help raise awareness of the need for Americans to include insurance in their financial plans, the nonprofit LIFE Foundation highlights stories of everyday families who have experienced the death or disability of a loved one. This year’s stories are appearing nationally in the September 2011 issues of Parents and O magazines, which are on newsstands now. The featured stories were chosen by an independent judging panel as part of LIFE’s realLIFEstories Client Service Awards Program, which seeks to highlight the best examples of how insurance, along with the advice and assistance of qualified insurance professionals, helped families at times of great financial need.

The clients and agents involved in this year’s featured stories will be honored at the annual conference of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) in Washington, D.C. They will share insights about their experiences in a one-hour, main stage presentation that will be simulcast live via the Web on Monday, Sept. 12, 2011 at 10 a.m. Eastern. The free webcast can be seen at

The 2011 realLIFEstories honorees are:

  • Robin Davey, CFP, AXA Equitable, Clifton Park, N.Y. – Small-business owner and father of six, Steven Tedesco was just 28 when he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia, and died two years later. Several months prior to the diagnosis, Steven consulted financial advisor Robin Davey, CFP because his bank required him to purchase life insurance to cover a loan for his business. After discovering that Steven didn’t have any life insurance at all, Robin helped him buy policies for both the business and his family. Thanks to his timely planning, Steven’s partner in his paving company was able to pay off loans they had taken out for the business. The policy purchased for the family has allowed his wife, Natira, to fulfill their dream of purchasing a house and enabled her to stay at home with their children, while setting aside money for their education and her retirement.

  • Donald Blahnik, LUTCF, Mutual Trust Financial Group, Onalaska, Wis. – Paul Krzewina, a third-generation dairy farmer, wanted to be sure that his farm would remain in the family, no matter what. So he sought assistance from agent Donald Blahnik, LUTCF, who helped him purchase life insurance to cover a mortgage Paul had taken out to grow the business. When Paul was diagnosed with a brain tumor many years later, his life insurance proved invaluable. While battling his illness, Paul was able to borrow against his policy’s cash values to pay his health insurance deductible. After he died, the death benefit proceeds allowed his wife, Michele, and the couple’s four adult children to keep the farm in the family.

  • Brenda Soto Bryan, Allstate Life Insurance Co., Long Beach, Calif. – Jim Bix was a newlywed when he was diagnosed with an incurable lung disease. While his health remained stable for two decades, his condition finally began to deteriorate, leaving him dependent on an oxygen tank and unable to work. With a wife and two daughters, Jim and his family relied on the disability insurance he had through work to help pay for their daily living expenses, as well as the added medical bills. Brenda Soto Bryan, who handled the family’s homeowner’s insurance needs, knew that Jim’s illness would preclude him from getting life insurance any other way, so she urged him to get as much coverage as he could through his employer’s plan. When Jim died, it was his employer-sponsored coverage, provided through a group program administered by CIGNA, that allowed his wife to pay off debts, keep their girls in private school and remain in the family’s home.

  • Brent Kimball, CFP, CLU, ChFC, A1 Freedom Financial, Pembroke, N.H. – Peter Zatir was 45 years old when he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of thyroid cancer. At the time, he was married with five children and running a busy law practice that he founded with a partner. Luckily for Peter, when he opened his practice, he and his partner met with insurance agent Brent Kimball, CFP, CLU, ChFC, who advised them to protect their business and incomes with disability insurance. When Peter was diagnosed, he was given a year to live, but through radiation and chemotherapy, experimental drug treatments and surgery, he has beaten the odds. While he can no longer work as a trial lawyer due to damage to his larynx, disability insurance purchased through the Guardian Insurance Company of America helped his partner buy out his share of the practice, and a separate policy provides a steady income to maintain his family’s quality of life.

“The stories of these families are reminders of how life can change in an instant and how important it is to be prepared financially for life events that you can’t anticipate,” said Marvin H. Feldman, CLU, ChFC, RFC, president and CEO of the LIFE Foundation. “It is our responsibility as insurance professionals to make sure we’re educating people in our communities about insurance and helping to protect them financially for what tomorrow may bring.”

To be considered for the realLIFEstories Client Service Awards, insurance professionals were asked to submit an application and essay describing how insurance benefited one of their clients at a time of great financial need. After an initial screening process that determined the top finalists, an independent panel of judges chose this year’s four featured stories.

About LIFE
The Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE) was founded in 1994 in response to the public’s growing need for information and education on life, health, disability and long-term care insurance. LIFE also seeks to remind people of the important role insurance professionals perform in helping families, businesses and individuals find the insurance solutions that best fit their needs. To learn more about these topics, please visit

Pinar Posluk
Katharine Carver

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