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The importance of disability insurance: One agent's first-person tale

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Life happens — both good and bad. You will never know when, where, what, how or why, but life happens when you least expect it.

Life happened to me and my family, but we did the right things. We had the planning in place when we needed it the most.

In December of 2014, I received a phone call asking me to help coach a youth hockey clinic.  What a great way to get out, stretch my legs and do something for which I have always had a passion!

So I strapped on my skates and stepped on the ice. I will never forget the moment that followed.

During my first step, I fell flat on my face. I can still hear the stick slapping against the ice. I remember the pain in my elbow as it caught my fall, and my sheer embarrassment in front of the other coaches, players and families.

Like any hockey player, I got up, brushed myself off and went to sharpen my skates. However when I stepped onto the ice again, I could not skate.

I’d played hockey through college and beyond so I instantly knew something was seriously wrong. Life happened to me in that moment, just like that.

The incident led to months of meetings with doctors and surgeons, all trying to figure out the source of the problem. Meanwhile, my left leg was growing progressively weaker. And during that time, I was still trying to keep a business going, which proved challenging.

It was April 2015 when the doctors narrowed my condition to one of two neurological diseases, Multifocal Motor Neuropathy (MMN) or sadly, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease.  In order to rule out MMN, I underwent 12 weeks of IVIG treatments, which required hospitalization. At home, I struggled with severe side effects. Meanwhile, my wife, who had only recently gone back to work, was taking care of our three children: a 6-year-old son, a 3-year-old daughter, and our third child, our miracle girl who was born four months prematurely.

I continued to work between treatments, which became increasingly difficult.

After these three months, we knew that the treatments were not working and that my condition and weakness were progressing.

I was formally diagnosed with ALS in July 2015.

ALS is a progressive disease that affects the motor neurons of the brain and spinal cord. Eventually, messages from the brain and spinal cord stop being received, which lead to muscle weakness and wasting. It’s like living in a failing body. ALS can leave patients unable to walk or talk, and eventually, unable to eat, swallow or breathe.

I am currently enrolled in the University of Michigan’s ALS Clinic, and am evaluated quarterly by a multi-disciplinary team of specialists. I am continually encouraged by their knowledge, passion and groundbreaking research.

My children are young and don’t fully understand the consequences of my disease.  At home, they do notice when I have a hard time getting around. I am mostly in a wheelchair now, but I still find ways to get outside and play football, baseball and hockey, give golf lessons, hunt and fish, and even play dress-up and princesses.

Life has not slowed down, nor will I.

From a financial aspect, nothing has slowed down for us either.  Early in my career, I heard producers say this very thing: “Have as much life insurance and disability income insurance as your company will offer.”

In July of 2015, after nearly 11 years of being in the financial services business, I filed my first, last and only insurance claim. It was a very difficult decision to make, but having a disability policy helped my wife and I reach the decision that I could retire to spend more quality time with my family at home and at the lake.

I cannot imagine where we would be without that disability policy right now.

I share my story in the hope that you — and your clients — will take advantage of having all of the life and disability insurance your company has to offer. I encourage you to review the coverage that you currently have, and make sure it’s what you want. Because of the love I have for my family, I have the maximum insurance and am living proof that you and your family can benefit greatly from it.

Like anything, you can better sell it if you own it.

There is going to come a day when life happens again for us. When that day comes, my family will know that their husband and dad did as much for them as he possibly could — when I was there, and when I am gone.

In the meantime, we are currently renovating our home and our cottage to make them the dream home and getaway that we always wanted, and to make them more accessible for me.

That is the power of having proper planning in place. The stress of life’s hurdles can melt away and you can focus on what matters most.  For me, that’s my family. #FeudiStrong

See also…

7 time-tested disability insurance sales tips

Four myths about disability insurance, busted

How to get anyone to think about disability insurance