The Power of Going the Extra Mile
Those of us in the insurance-based financial-services business will eventually meet a client who makes a lasting impression on our lives. Going the extra mile for your clients can transform your career completely. Read how this advisor learned the power of going the extra mile, and how the capital created by life insurance allowed a founder’s estate to be kept intact and supported by his family members.
Power of Going the Extra Mile by Mark J. Hanna, CLU, ChFC
It taught this advisor how the human capital created by life insurance can allow a founder’s estate to be kept intact and support his family members.
Many of us in the insurance based financial-services business will come across a client who makes a lasting impression on our lives. I never imagined mine would come from a relationship I formed simply by picking up the phone and driving the extra distance when others wouldn’t.
In 1993, two business partners, an older and a younger partner, owned a successful business in central California. After their original advisor left the business, the two men were left unassigned because they were not local to the agency. Upon joining that agency, their records appeared in a follow-up file maintained for service, and I saw no one had called on them for a few years. I took the initiative to call and asked if they would like to review their insurance. They said yes.
I drove the two hours from San Francisco to their office to meet with them. I did a complete personal and business review of their insurance needs and added extra life and disability income insurance as well as a cross-purchased buy/sell life insurance policy for each of them. We also developed their employee benefit plan for their company. Everything was in place as far as insurance and planning were concerned.
Barely a year later, the older of the two partners and his wife were in a boating accident. They were returning to the marina when another boat (driven by someone under the influence) struck them. The larger boat cut their smaller boat in half and killed the man, my client. The accident also injured his wife.
This was my largest death claim and the first in which the claim fell within the two-year contestability period. It gave me firsthand experience on how the contestability process works. Since this claim was within the contestability period, the insurance company took longer to make sure there were no withheld insurability factors during the original application. The insurance company went back and re-underwrote the case at a deeper level. It looked to make sure the policy was issued with all of the facts to ensure there was no reason coverage would otherwise have been declined. The claim was eventually approved and the benefits were paid out to the widow, as well as to the business partner.
The widow received money from both the life insurance proceeds, the buy/sell on the business and the lawsuit against the person driving the boat that injured her and killed her husband. While recovering from her injuries, she developed terminal cancer and had to quickly redo her estate plan to take care of her children. She had three children— one was disabled and another had a severely developmentally disabled child. It was a family that needed the benefit of insurance to take care and provide for them.
I began working with the family lawyers, who revised all of the estate planning documents and set up trusts while the widow was going through her final days. Tragically, before she passed, her youngest child was killed in a car accident. All of the money in the trust that was to go to him and his mentally challenged daughter went directly into the special needs trust. Two years later, the middle child died, and not long after that, the special-needs granddaughter died. Unbelievably, within a five-year period, the older business partner, his wife, two of their three children and a grandchild had passed away.
The insurance money that paid out on the buy/sell and the personal insurance flowed through this family, keeping everything together during all of those tragedies. It was a powerful, early lesson in my career about how the human capital created by life insurance can allow the founder’s estate to be kept intact and support his wife, kids and grandkids. It was all about integrated insurance, as well as having a proper financial and estate plan.
This was the very first time I had an opportunity to truly understand how important it was to not just sell insurance and to make sure the documentation was put in place, but also how important it is to go the extra mile.
Mark J. Hanna, CLU, ChFC, of Concord, Calif., is second vice president of the MDRT and a 26-year member, with three Court of the Table and 15 Top of the Table honors. Hanna is CEO of Hanna Global Solutions, an employee benefits advisory and administration firm providing global human resource management solutions.
This article appeared in Advisor Today.