While driving through Texas’ hill country in June of 2007, my husband’s phone rang — but the call was for me. It was my client calling, and my first thought was that something had happened to her mother or father, both of whom are also my clients. But in fact, she had called to tell me that her husband, Tom, a 50-year-old, 10-time marathon runner and mountain climber who had scaled Mount Kilimanjaro, had brain tumors.

As their advisor, I was saddened for their family — and also for myself. Although we had put a life insurance in place several years earlier, I had never spoken to them about income protection.

Tom had surgery to remove the tumors and was back at work two days after the surgery. Ultimately, however, the tumors returned, and Tom died in February 2009.

One of the small blessings during his illness was that his friend and boss allowed him to come to work and continued to pay him, even when he was unable to perform his job duties. That is not the case with many.

We learn these lessons the tough way. So now, I “lead with DI.”

‘A no-brainer’
Recently a business owner client came in to purchase life insurance. He was personally signing on a bank loan for their gourmet restaurant, and we encouraged him to apply for income protection, as well. He agreed. Yet when he came to our office to pick up his policies, he told me, “I have decided I don’t want the disability income policy.” I leaned back and said, “That’s OK,” and then began to share Tom’s story with him. I then handed him a chart and asked him about his future earnings; when he saw that they future earnings would be almost $3 million, he turned to me and said, “Wow — this is a no-brainer.” Right then and there, he agreed to have the business issue a check to bind the protection.

Another tool that has been helpful is my “goose and his golden egg.” Income protection is not a fun topic, and it can be difficult for people to wrap their heads around the idea that anything will ever happen to them. When I take out the goose, I say to the client, “You are a goose; I am a goose.” I explain that we insure our eggs — our home, our cars, our jewelry — yet we neglect to insure ourselves, even though we make it possible to have all of these golden eggs in our lives.

Making a huge difference
Recently a 35-year-old attorney friend and client of mine was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. The first question I asked myself was, “Did she purchase life insurance?” Since she’s single, I wasn’t sure if she had, but I was pleased and relieved to discover that we had put both life insurance and disability income in place for her. At a recent meeting, she shared how thrilled she is that we took care of both of these items when she was healthy enough to obtain them. She feels strongly that if she should die prematurely, she would like to leave her parents monies to repay them for all of the support they gave her through private schools, college, and law school.

We can and do make a huge difference in our clients’ lives. By focusing on the urgent items, we are the ones who deliver checks in our clients’ time of need.

Ann Baker Ronn is a financial advisor and team leader at the AFP Group in Houston, TX. She can be reached at ann@afpgroup.com.

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