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Not Quite a Storybook Ending

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Sitting in the dining room of a home in the affluent suburb of Rockville Center, N.Y., I had to refrain from staring at the antique woodwork and hand-carved door frames. What a beautiful home! Inside this storybook cottage lived a couple with their two children, a boy and a girl.

As I sat with the dad, a trader at Cantor Fitzgerald in Manhattan, I couldnt help thinking that this couple had everythingexcept, of course, enough life insurance. Through all of the chaos of a dinner-hour sale, we finally settled on a $1 million term policy, buthe didnt want to commit to it today. He wanted his wife involved in the sale, and that was not going to be possible this evening. After much convincing, he agreed to apply for the policy and, if they wanted to make changes, we would make them after the policy was approved.

When, after a week or so went by, I checked “new business” in the computer, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the medical and the callback had been completed. I thought, what a pleasure it was to deal with a client who understands the need for this protection. All I needed was an underwriting decision, and in two days, there it was, “Select Preferred.”

The policy delivery was just as chaotic as the sale itself, except now back-to-school issues were whirling around the house while I directed the insured to “Sign here, and here, please; this is your new policy.” It was a cool September night when I said goodbye to the suburban family and drove the 10 minutes home.

Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, I was running on the treadmill watching “Good Morning America.” The television flickered, and the screen went blank. I thought nothing of it; all I knew was that I had 20 more grueling minutes left to complete my workout.

The picture was restored, and there it was: a plane inside one of the Twin Towers. It couldnt be. What could possibly have gone so wrong that this plane landed in a building? The TV hosts struggled to obtain information and report it to their audience. There was a sense that something was terribly wrong, yet no one knew what. I cut my workout short and was leaving the gym when the second tower was hit. This was no accident. Terror filled the air as we struggled to understand what was happening to us, to New York, to the dad in the suburbs. I couldnt help but think of him. Cantor Fitzgerald was written in the employer section of the life insurance work sheet. Cantor Fitzgerald was in the towers, and so was the dad in the suburbs. Days passed and we learned he was missing; after weeks, he was pronounced dead: He never made it out of the towers.

I dreaded the call to the client, although I was prepared to assist with the claim. I finally spoke with her, relayed my condolences and cried on the phone with her. Delivering the check was difficult. The chaos in the house was tamed and the loss was tangible, raw and thick in the airnothing a million dollars could cure.

What the life insurance did mean for this family was indescribable. It offered stability at such an unstable time. It softened the devastation by allowing them to live in the same house and the children to attend the same school. It serves as a poignant reminder of how the dad in the suburbs wanted to take care of his familyand did.

has been an agent with Prudential Financial in the Uniondale, N.Y., office since 1997.

Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, September 16, 2004. Copyright 2004 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.