Current and former leaders of the industry’s agent groups are manning the survivor help line that the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education set up after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
LIFE’s network of volunteers consist of current and former board members of LIFE, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, and the Society of Financial Services Professionals, says David Woods, president of LIFE in Washington, D.C.
“We’ve had about 50 calls,” he says. “We’re now getting 2 to 4 a day. I expect we’ll continue to get a steady flow.”
Dick Koob of Waukesha, Wis., who is president-elect of NAIFA, says the help line was designed to reassure people that there is a process in place to assist with questions about insurance coverage.
Koob is one of the volunteers taking calls from victims of the attacks.
“They were really basic questions,” says Koob. “The first question was ‘How do I know if there was life insurance in force?’”
Koob explained to the caller that there is a process in place to answer these questions. “Just that knowledge alone was reassuring,” he says.
For this caller, Koob didn’t have any definite answers. “I was totally neutral, trying to be reassuring, calm, and helpful without trying to paint an unrealistic picture or create unrealistic expectations.”
Koob went on to take the caller through the process of referring to participating companies to inquire about possible insurance coverage.
“So, I thought in my experience, the process worked because it simply reassured someone that they were not alone in their search, that there was a major organization that would help with their resources, help search and help answer their questions,” he says.
“You could hear the emotion, you could hear the relief that was there, knowing we would try to help,” says Koob. “It was a good feeling.”
In another instance, Charles Marks, past chairman of LIFE and past president of the Million Dollar Round Table, took a call from someone in need of claims assistance.
“The party I spoke with had a rather unusual situation,” says Marks. “It was from a gentleman who had been divorced from his wife who was killed in the Sept. 11 tragedy and they had a daughter who was the beneficiary of the life insurance policies.”
“They had already made a claim with two companies,” Marks says. “But they weren’t sure how to make the claim with the company where the group insurance was held.”
Marks went on to answer all the man’s questions. “He was very receptive and very gracious that we would assist him in this way,” he says.
“I think it was a wonderful idea to offer assistance; it’s been very well received,” says Marks.
While setting up the help line was a swift shift in LIFE’s activities, the result is consistent with its primary objective of consumer education. “We really felt that we’re fulfilling our public education mission,” says Woods. “We wanted to reach out to them [victims], to educate them about what they needed to do.”
Woods expects to keep the help line open for at least the next 3 to 4 months. “We may even extend it, depending on what happens. There’s been an interest on the part of a couple of company people to keep this line open.”
Woods says some interested parties feel LIFE should continue to make the help line available as part of its education effort. “If people have concerns and want volunteer advice, they can call this number.”
Right now, however, there are no plans to keep the help-line open indefinitely.
Agents who know victims needing additional advice from industry experts can refer them to LIFE’s Web site at www.life-line.org or call toll free at (888) 346-8200.
Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, October 22, 2001. Copyright 2001 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.