As evidenced by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, we have learned that awareness can be built very quickly. Most people didn’t even know what ALS was a short time ago. To it’s credit, the ALS challenge has done an incredible job of not only building that awareness but raising a great deal of money along the way for a great cause.
For us, September is Life Insurance Awareness Month (LIAM), and we have an opportunity to do what we do best and let people understand the importance of what we do in our profession. For the last 11 years, Life Happens, formerly the LIFE Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping consumers make smart insurance decisions to safeguard their families has done a terrific job to that end. They have had a number of celebrities including actors and sports figures sharing their stories of the importance of life insurance. Among those names are Boomer Esiason , Chris Noth, Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro, Lamar Odom, Donnie Wahlberg, Molly Shannon and Scott Hamilton.
What we do is so important and plays such a vital role in our society. By a simple stroke of a pen, we have the power to forever change the lives of our clients and their families.
Several years ago, I attended a meeting and the speaker, the then President of John Hancock, delivered a message and read the following passage to the group…
“A life insurance policy is just a time-yellowed piece of paper, with columns of figures and legal phrases, until it is baptized with a widow’s tears. Then it becomes a modern miracle, a sort of Aladdin’s Lamp. It is food, clothing, shelter, education, peace of mind. It is the sincerest love letter ever written. It quiets the crying of a hungry baby at night. It eases the heart of a bereaved widow. It is the comforting whisper in the dark silent hours of the night. It is new hope, fresh courage and strength for the widow to pick up the broken threads of life and carry on. It is an education for the sons and daughters (a chance for a career, instead of the need for a job). It is a father’s parental blessing to his children on their wedding day. It is the function of a father’s hopes and dreams for his family’s future. Through life insurance he lives on. There is no death. Life Insurance exalts life and defeats death. It is the premium we pay for the privilege of living after death.”
These words were the contents of a note that was written in 1929 by Jack J. Leterman — a long-time life insurance agent in Norfolk, Va. He had enclosed this note when he delivered a life insurance policy to a client. The words impacted me greatly and although it was written so long ago, the words hold up and speak in volumes, some 85 years later. Sure the words are a bit corny and possibly a bit sexist for today’s standards, but when you think about it, there are no truer words to express what we do every day.
In our era of selling life insurance products, we can add so many more benefits that were not even feasible back then. Today, large face amounts are purchased to protect against a number of complex needs such as Estate Planning, Business Succession, Buy-Sell Planning, Retirement Maximization, etc. But when you break it down to the lowest common denominator, even those advanced concepts come back to the same core values of what it is we do, which is provide security to the heirs of our insureds.
Whether it’s as simple as replacing lost income to a surviving spouse, providing college funds for our children or as complex as providing liquidity for an estate with huge tax liabilities, we know that what we provide with that stroke of the pen is far more powerful than what other professions can strive for.
In the spirit of Life Insurance Awareness Month, take a few minutes to look back at the words written by Mr. Leterman, think about them and be proud of what it is we do and know that with the stroke of that pen, we are part of one of the most noble professions that one can be a part of.