Things Left Unsaid...

Fri July 6th 2018

​It can be scary to contemplate what might be around the corner. Mentally we try to stay positive about the future, and avoid thinking about the worst that could befall us or our loved ones. Even for those of us who work in the insurance industry, death and disaster are not pleasant or common dinner table conversations. The following article is an excerpt from Partners Life, where staff member Steve Wright tells his story of how not talking about the worst that could happen can leave you regretting your words – or lack of them.

It can be scary to contemplate what might be around the corner. Mentally we try to stay positive about the future, and avoid thinking about the worst that could befall us or our loved ones. Even for those of us who work in the insurance industry, death and disaster are not pleasant or common dinner table conversations. The following article is an excerpt from from Partners Life, where staff member Steve Wright tells his story of how not talking about the worst that could happen can leave you regretting your words - or lack of them.

In December of 2017 Steve Wright, our General Manager of Professional Development, received the sort of phone call that we all hope to avoid – his cousin's husband had suffered a heart attack and was in hospital. Naturally, his mind immediately turned to wondering what help they would need – and whether they had any insurance cover in place.

Bill had died on arrival at the hospital and although he was revived, he remained unconscious. It was clear to me that any recovery would be slow and possibly mean a very large financial loss for them. It may be that Bill would never be able to work again. A decent trauma insurance pay-out would no doubt be very welcome, if not essential.

As Steve and his family waited for more news, the recovery process rollercoaster began. Bill was unconscious and non-responsive. After two days he had woken up and was alert and aware. The doctors were preparing for his heart surgery the next day. Then Steve got another call – expecting good news about the surgery, he answered.

''This time it was not my cousin but my sister – Bill had passed away in the morning. I was shocked. I called to give my condolences but as nice and as appreciated they may be, all the flowers, condolences and other well wishes don't really do anything to help my cousin.''

Steve knew that there would be many expenses piling up for his cousin – thousands of dollars for the funeral, catering, domestic and international airfares to fly grieving family members to the service. Adding these financial stresses to the anguish of losing someone close to you, the resulting burden is more than kind words or tokens of sympathy can counter, however well-meaning they may be. And that was just the immediate costs – for the surviving family members, the death of a pivotal figure has repercussions that continue well into the future.

''My cousin is now a single woman on a single income. Not only has she lost her husband and her children a father, but her financial future is potentially precarious. Even under the best scenario, she will not be retiring as I am sure she and Bill had hoped, and at worst she will require financial assistance from her children or her aged father.''

Steve had assumed that his cousin and her husband would have at least had some life insurance to protect themselves and their children from the financial consequences of an untimely death, but he soon learned that they had only insured their home, car and contents – leaving them wide open to any event that threatened their health or lives.

''I am in the life insurance industry, have it myself, see the value in it with every claim we pay but I never spoke to them about it. Now I wish I had. I wish I had strongly recommended they see an adviser, but I never spoke to them about how life insurance protects families, how it creates financial security, how it can give you peace of mind, how it can keep you from poverty or how lives are so much more valuable than houses, than cars, than possessions.''

''Speak to your family, close and extended, about protecting themselves and their family's financial security. Speak to your friends too. Don't avoid the topic or be put off, it is too important. Perhaps a few simple words from me may have changed the outcome for my cousin, no one will know for sure, but I still feel stink – I should have spoken to them about it.''

Article taken from Partners Life ''Partners Papers'', Issue 13 April 2018.

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