Educating Clients About Policy Riders And Options Is Essential

When Dean Cartwright purchased a term life insurance policy from Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company in 2001, he had one goal in mind: to protect his wife Susan in the event of his death. The self-employed landscaper and lawn maintenance company owner knew the importance of planning ahead for the unexpected and, after meeting with Paul Farr, a local multi-line agent, for a policy insurance review appointment, he decided to purchase a $100,000 ten-year term policy, confident that would provide a secure future for his wife once he was gone.

But when Dean was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma in January 2009 at age 51, he and his 56-year-old wife were faced with the terrifying reality of dealing with a major illness.

Having learned of Dean’s initial diagnosis through the local community grapevine, Farr called Susan to discuss insurance options, one of which was to add the accelerated death benefit in case the cancer was terminal. With that rider, the policy pays 50 percent of the eligible death benefit if the insured is terminally ill.

“Fortunately for them, the rider was free of charge and could be added to the policy at any time,” said Farr. “When I explained to Susan how the accelerated death benefit worked, she agreed to its inclusion to the term policy.”

Although he underwent surgery a month later to remove his right kidney, Dean learned in November 2010 that the cancer had returned with multiple tumors present. By that time, faced with mounting medical expenses in addition to their regular bills, the couple was finding it almost impossible to meet their financial obligations, especially since Dean was unable to work after his surgeries. Their savings was gone and, since Dean was self-employed, there were no other resources available to them. Looking back, his wife said, “It is hard enough to learn you have a terminal disease, but it is almost worse to explain why you don’t have the money to pay your bills.”

The burden of worrying about their financial situation was rapidly overwhelming the couple when relief came from an unexpected source: the term life insurance Dean Cartwright had purchased. With Farr’s assistance, the couple completed the application for the accelerated death benefit and received the benefit amount just a few weeks later. The funds allowed them to pay their bills and even put some money in their savings for future expenses. With their finances covered, Dean was able to stop worrying about money woes and put all his attention on his treatments.

As an added bonus, the term policy also had a conversion privilege which was due to expire September 2011. This enabled the Cartwrights to convert the policy to a permanent life insurance policy without evidence of insurability. Without this option, Dean would have been considered uninsurable once the term policy expired.

“I feel certain that, without these policy benefits, the Cartwrights would have been facing bankruptcy,” said Farr. “The accelerated benefit rider provided immediate liquidity to them at the worst financial time of their lives, allowing them to focus on his cancer treatments and his route to recovery. The term conversion to permanent insurance allows Dean to be insured for the remainder of his life and not be concerned about the expiration of a term policy. Both Dean and Susan are pleased with how life insurance has been able to help them in life.”

Even though treatment will be needed for the rest of his life, Dean Cartwright was able to walk in the annual Currituck County Relay for Life Event on April 15, 2011—as a survivor. The couple also celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary on October 13, 2011, and are looking forward to celebrating many more anniversaries together.

“The Cartwrights’ experience illustrates the importance of educating clients not only about the policy itself but also about all available riders that may interest them,” said Farr. “Most of my clients think only of life insurance as a death benefit and are amazed once I explain that the policies have living benefits as well. I believe that, as agents, our primary focus should be on education. Once we educate consumers, it becomes an easy decision for them to purchase insurance products.”

by Nancy Christie for October 2012 issue of Broker World Magazine.  Nancy Christie is a freelance writer based in Ohio whose articles appear in national publications. Christie is working with The Life and Health Foundation for Education, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping consumers make smart insurance decision, on this series of articles. Christie’s website is LIFE website:


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