One Agent’s Own Story With Critical Illness Insurance

To The Editor:

Regarding articles on critical illness insurance in the March 25, 2002 National Underwriter, let me relate my own story. It shows why I believe this coverage is valuable.

I’ve always considered myself a healthy person. At 33, I was in the best shape of my life–eating right, exercising regularly, enjoying my great family, and I loved my job.

So when I was diagnosed with leukemia, it was a shock. Like many of your readers, Im an agent who works on commission. If I can’t sell, I don’t get paid. Beating leukemia was going to take me away from work for months.

I never doubted my ability to survive. But I still had concerns: How would I support my family with no income? Would we have to move to a smaller house? Would my wife have to find a job? Who would take care of the kids?

Like most agents, I was well aware that Americans are living longer, healthier lives and surviving diseases that only a couple decades ago would have caused death. I’m living proof of that. But while survival rates have jumped, so have the related medical costs.

For instance, health care costs rose over 7% in 2000, the largest increase in a decade (Ceci Connoly, “Health Care Spending in U.S. Increases 7.2%,” Washington Post, Sept 27, 2001). The average stay in a hospital costs $32,558 (American Hospital Association, 1999). And the average price per prescription rose more than 40% between 1993 and 1998 (John Connor, “Prescription-Drug Spending Rose 84% Over Last Five Years, Study Says,” Dow Jones Business News, July 9, 1999).

In addition, like most agents, I was well aware that health insurance pays for things like doctor bills and traditional treatment, subject to co-pays, deductibles and non-covered procedures. I knew that disability insurance replaces a portion of monthly income, usually after a 30- to 90-day waiting period. And I knew there would be life insurance, should death occur.

But what would pay for the indirect costs of survival–costs not covered by other insurance (such as deductibles and co-pays, treatments by out-of-network providers, and lost income)? Those costs can add up quickly and I knew that if people arent prepared financially, theyre practically being punished for surviving.

Thats where critical illness insurance comes into the picture. When I was mulling over all these issues, I remembered I had a critical illness policy.

As it turned out, that contract made a huge difference in my life and that of my family. Because the diagnosis was one of the covered illnesses, the policy paid a benefit of $130,000enough to keep my family financially secure while I spent 25 straight days in the hospital.

That check kept us from having to make all those painful decisions I had originally been worrying about. It also helped us manage while I was recovering and unable to meet with clients.

The bottom line? A serious illness can happen to anyone. If it does, you need to be prepared for the financial impact. You need to have a way to make up for that income. You need to find a way to cover those indirect costs so you can do what it takes to get better.

Critical illness insurance may be the answer. It certainly was for me.

Jack Perry
Mutual of Omaha
Charlotte, N.C.

If people arent prepared financially, theyre practically being punished for surviving


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, April 22, 2002. Copyright 2002 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.