The program helps raise awareness about the value of insurance coverage as part of a sound financial plan, as well as the critical importance of seeking professional advice. The stories of this year’s four winners bring to light how insurance coverage greatly benefits families facing adversity due to a disability or an unexpected death of a loved one.
“There is tremendous value in seeking professional advice when it comes to financial planning. This program celebrates the moments when guidance and adequate insurance protection has assisted families through the toughest times,” said Marvin Feldman, CLU, ChFC, RFC, President and CEO of Life Happens. “This year’s recipients should be proud and honored by the number of lives they’ve impacted. Too many Americans either misunderstand the benefits and costs of life insurance, or do not have the right policy in place to meet family needs and protect loved ones. When it comes to life, disability and long-term care insurance, meeting with a professional adds great benefit.”
The 2016 Life Happens Real Life Stories award recipients are:
- Tom Bader, COUNTRY Financial, Lacon, Ill.: When Travis Guthman, his wife, Wendy, and their children moved back to their hometown in Illinois nearly a decade ago, they set out and opened a pizzeria. Travis devoted himself whole-heartedly to the business—running it practically single-handedly—and throughout the years, the pizzeria and its successes continued to grow. Tom would speak regularly with the couple about their coverage including discussions on their growing business and their newly acquired farmhouse. When Tom spoke with Travis for a spring review in 2009, Tom described the risk it posed to both the business and his family’s lifestyle if anything were to happen to Travis. With Tom’s encouragement, Travis purchased a disability income policy to cover immediate monthly living expenses. In 2014, Travis lost control of his vehicle after using his cell phone while driving. Travis suffered serious injuries and was forced to spend weeks in intensive care and was unable to attend to his restaurant. Thanks to the disability insurance coverage that Tom recommended, Travis’ income was replaced and his family was protected. The insurance also allowed him to keep his business afloat and keep it running. Since then, Travis spends time speaking to groups and local driver’s education classes about the importance of not using cell phones while driving. To see more, watch the video at www.lifehappens.org/guthman.
- Wallene Leek, FSCP, LUTCF, LTCP, New York Life Insurance Company, Franklin, Tenn.: Kelley and Doak Snead were living happily in Nashville, Tenn., bound by their love for each other and passion for making music. As Kelley developed her new career in real estate and Doak focused on raising their daughter, Emma, they knew they needed the financial safety net that life insurance offered—and Wallene helped to make sure the family was well protected. Wallene Leek not only increased Kelley’s life insurance over time, but also made sure that it had living benefits, as well. The coverage proved critical to the Snead family when Kelley—the family’s main breadwinner—was diagnosed with a terminal drug-resistant type of Parkinson’s disease, which slowly took away her ability to work and care for herself. The family has greatly benefited from their insurance coverage—Kelley does not have to pay for premiums, the family kept their home and they have been able to spend time together unfettered by financial burdens. To see more, watch the video at www.lifehappens.org/snead.
- Annie Vu, New York Life Insurance Company, Westminster, Calif.: Steven and Ngoc Anh Tang moved to America from Vietnam to provide a better life for their two children, Nancy and Jimmy. Their insurance agent, Annie Vu, recognized that the foundation of their actions was to provide for and protect their children—a purpose that would be forever strengthened by a life insurance policy. Annie guided the purchase of permanent life insurance for both Steven, who worked for an hourly wage, and for Ngoc Anh, who was mainly a stay-at-home mom. Tragically, Ngoc Anh was involved in a car accident that resulted in life-threatening injuries. Although she was in and out of the hospital, her disability waiver premium made it so that she no longer had to pay for the policy. Ngoc Anh never fully recovered, however, and later died of a stroke. After Ngoc’s passing, Annie encouraged Steven to purchase additional life insurance to protect his children, which he did. Three years later, Steven learned he had liver cancer and died shortly after the diagnosis. Although Nancy and Jimmy were now on their own following terrible tragedy, they were able to get back on their feet because their parents purchased a life insurance policy, protecting them from tremendous financial burdens. To see more, watch the video at www.lifehappens.org/tang.
- Culpepper Webb, CLU, AXA, Ridgeland, Miss.: Christy and Daryel Dunaway recognized the need to protect their love for one another on a financial level, as well as an emotional one. Daryel Dunaway and his friend John had started a business together, Handicapable Vans, which adapts vehicles for people with disabilities. It’s something both men knew about from firsthand experience. Daryel was paralyzed from the chest down due to a diving accident at 15 and John was a quadriplegic as well. Daryel and John legally arranged for the business to pass to the other if one was to die, but Daryel wanted to protect Christy financially, as well. Culpepper Webb, an insurance agent, made sure to protect Daryel and Christy with life insurance policies through US Financial Life Insurance Company and Protective Life that increased as the Handicapable Vans business grew. When a series of infections took Daryel’s life at the age of 57, Christy credits their life insurance with giving her the time to grieve. The policy protected her from having to sell their home, and Christy was able to open a consulting firm—a joint goal for the couple. “Life insurance has allowed me to take action on our dream,” Christy says. To see more, watch the video at www.lifehappens.org/dunaway.
This year’s four Real Life Stories honorees, along with their clients, will be formally recognized at the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) annual conference in Las Vegas later this fall. A presentation ceremony will take place on Sunday, September 18, 2016.
Life Happens also is accepting applications for its 2017 Real Life Stories Client Recognition Program now through October 31, 2016 at 4 pm E.T. Licensed insurance professionals and their teams are encouraged to visit http://www.lifehappens.org/reallife to submit their best client success story or to learn more about the Real Life Stories program.
About Life Happens
Life Happens is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping consumers take personal financial responsibility through the ownership of life insurance and related products. The organization does not endorse any product, company or insurance advisor. Since its inception in 1994, Life Happens has provided the highest quality, independent and objective information for people seeking help with their insurance buying decisions. The organization supports the insurance industry by providing marketing tools and resources and convening the industry each September for Life Insurance Awareness Month. Life Happens is supported by more than 140 of the nation’s leading insurance company and financial services organizations. To learn more, visit www.lifehappens.org.