Starting out in the insurance industry 20 years ago, there was one thing that I learned quickly and that was life insurance was a necessity. Life insurance guards against the risk of dying unexpectedly. And let’s face it – we’re all going to die.
For that reason alone, I thought that I should purchase life insurance on myself. However, I was also a single mother and I wanted to make sure my kids would be able to be raised in our home, attend college, and have a comfortable life, even if I died early.
Working in the home office helped me to learn that life insurance could be used to accumulate cash values, which you could access for any purpose including funding your children’s educations. In addition to making sure that my children were covered in the event of an unfortunate accident, I wanted help saving for their college dreams. These features motivated me to purchase life insurance not only for myself, but also for my children.
I was tremendously concerned about the health of my first child, AJ. AJ was my first child and only son. He was born with birth defects and health problems. He had his first major cleft lip and palate surgery at the age of six months and was averaging one surgery per year for the majority of his young life.
What if my AJ couldn’t qualify for life insurance as an adult? What if any of my kids developed a health condition that would make it difficult for them to obtain life insurance? Diabetes ran in my family…cancer on my father’s side too. I thought, “Better to purchase the kids’ life insurance while they were children.”
A Guaranteed Purchase Option Rider, where my babies would be guaranteed additional life insurance at periodic intervals throughout their lives without underwriting, provided me the peace of mind I needed.
While many have opined on how selling life insurance on children is a “scam,” I felt confident that I was doing the right thing by purchasing life insurance on my three kiddos before they even entered elementary school. There were just too many things to chance, had I left them uncovered. Little did I know at the time of my purchase just how true those words would ring …
Before long, my employer changed their health plan to exclude AJ’s surgeries for his cleft. I was forced to leave the home office that I loved, and take a higher-paying job that I loathed, simply because my new employer’s health plan covered AJ. For nearly a year, I explored every type of self-motivation to get me through my hellish job so I could get my son the surgeries he needed.
Just before his biggest surgery, my position was eliminated. And so, I had no choice but to start my own company, so that I could ensure my children got the health coverage that they needed. Fortunately, the Shriners Hospitals for Children decided to step-in at just the right time, and gave AJ all of the care that he required. By the time my son reached age 14, his face had transformed into one that he could embrace. He was finally happy with his appearance and loved himself. How satisfying to see my child feeling so free for the first time in over a decade! I wept tears of joy when I saw my son smile with his teeth showing for the first time in his life!
And yet despite enduring 16 surgeries, AJ’s life was secretly in shambles. Although he was the nicest human being I’ve known, he was bullied at his school because he was bi-racial. He was made fun of for his slight lisp, which evolved as a result of his cleft. His nose looked a little crooked and his lip had a scar on it – all targets for teasing. He may have been friends with everyone, but nothing trumped that when AJ came-out as gay.
High school suddenly became a lonely place for my son. While he was busy listening to all of his friends’ teenage angst, he kept his own emotions bottled-up. He smiled and laughed as others called him “Gay-J,” and told gay jokes. He never had a boyfriend, but kids bullied him for his “gay” label alone.
After years of relentless taunting, AJ took his own life. That was two years ago. It is hard to believe that he was doing cartwheels in my back yard and playing with our dogs just less than an hour before his senseless act. It is hard to believe that I’ve lived a single hour without my child, much less years. My son chose a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and as a result, my heart and soul have been obliterated. My daughters’ and husband’s lives have also changed in an irreversible manner. Our family will never be the same without AJ.
All grief and anguish aside, I thank God that I bought life insurance on my kids. I certainly didn’t budget for AJ to kill himself. And while I have plenty of assets, I was pretty cash poor at the time of my son’s death. I definitely didn’t have the $35,000 needed to pay AJ’s funeral expenses, headstone costs, and medical bills as a result of him being on life support for four days. It is only because I purchased life insurance on my babies that I was able to focus on my emotional debt, rather than a financial one.
And although my heart is broken, I know I will see AJ again one day. I have no choice but to carry-on, for my family’s sake. I am still working, educating people about life insurance and annuities every day. The companies of Wink and Moore Market Intelligence have been profitably performing for over a decade now – all thanks to motivation to care for my little boy.
I know that if there is one thing that I can share, which will impact others’ lives, it is AJ’s story. Please help people to understand that life insurance is essential, not a nicety. If even one family is protected as a result of AJ’s passing, then his death is not in vain. I offer my sincerest thanks to those serving in the life insurance industry. I know that this is a thankless job, but please know that the service you perform is so important. Thank you.