Big doors swing on small hinges.

Have you ever heard that old saying before? It basically means that sometimes big things happen as a result of small events. Often we don’t realize what or how small behaviors influence big things happening, either in our lives or the lives of others. As we build our business we are creating a legacy, and as we live our lives we are leaving a legacy.

About 10 years ago I was running Medicare Supplement leads in Newport, Tenn. with another agent. One lead was a couple who had lived in their home for some 35 years. The husband was 69, retired, and his wife was just turning 65 and worked part time at Dollywood. The reason she was working part time was to earn enough money to make their house payment. Some 20 years earlier her husband had been laid off his job; it took him a few months to get a new job. He could not keep up his house payment so he worked out an arrangement with his bank to add the missing payments to the end of his loan, thus resulting in his wife needing to continue to work part time. After helping her with her Medicare Supplement I ask the question I ask all my senior clients, “Are you paying taxes, and are you paying taxes on your Social Security?” The answer to both questions was yes. I then ask the follow-up question I always ask, “Is that what you expected, and is that what you were planning on doing?” And, of course, the answer was no.

I then ask my next follow-up question, “What plan do you have to reduce or eliminate paying taxes on your Social Security?” And the answer was they did not have a plan and that’s what they were talking to me about. Just the answer I was looking for.

Get the facts

After doing a qualified fact finder, the following circumstances presented themselves. They still owed about $34,000 on their house. She worked enough hours to make the house payment, however, she would prefer to not have to work and be at home with her husband who had some medical issues. They had a $150,000 non-qualified, seven-year deferred annuity that was in its sixth year. They didn’t need the money to live on, and had some money in savings, with some income from a few investments. Except for their house payment, they had no other real bills.

After doing some research I presented the following opportunity to them: surrender their existing annuity, roll over $100,000 of the money into a five-year deferred annuity that paid a small bonus to start it, taking $50,000 of their funds as a distribution; pay the small penalty, and then pay off their house. There would be enough money left to finish screening the back porch they had been working on and paying off a small credit-card debt. The wife could then choose to keep working or quit, and do what she had wanted to do, which was stay at home. They gratefully took this option and around Newport, she didn’t describe me to her family and friends as her insurance agent, I was the guy that helped her retire and pay off her home.

Often it is the little things we come across that lead to the big things that happen. As professionals we have the ability to impact our prospects’ and clients’ lives in substantial ways, many times much later in the future, sometimes in ways we don’t even know. From helping families add a decreasing term rider to their family plan in the 70s to clients like this one, I have laid a foundational legacy that will speak for my actions for years to come.

Many times we may not even know a client went on claim for some life event, however, because of our work with them we were able to have a positive effect on their lives. That’s what you do and what we all do in our industry.

So as the Affordable Health Care Act evolves and the exchanges launch don’t let your role be diminished or take a back seat to all the drama. You are important and valuable to your clients and those prospects you have yet met. What I would say to you is you don’t just sell life insurance (and other products). You see, other salespeople are limited. They sell just furniture, appliances, cars or shoes. You sell things, too. Yet you sell many things more. You sell meat, bread and milk for the table of a family deprived of a father or mother. You sell canceled mortgages so that a mother or father and the children can live comfortably. You sell college educations to give youngsters better opportunities in life. You sell little extras – ice cream cones, roller blades, movie tickets and a dress for the prom. You make life worth living. You sell time with grandchildren, golf clubs, fishing tackle, exciting trips, retirement income and self-respect for later years. You sell all the necessities and good things of life, because life insurance is for the living. Yes, you sell life insurance so don’t be shy about letting your pride show. Our industry matters, what we do matters and what you do matters. So go make a difference and remember big doors swing on small hinges.

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