Let's never forget the business we're in
By Mike Gorlick
Zenith Marketing Group, Inc.
This Sunday will be a different Sunday than most for every American. We will all be reflecting on that terrifying morning 10 years ago. Like previous generations who remember distinctly where they were during the Kennedy assassination, we all remember where we were on Sept. 11, 2001.
Many of us had loved ones and friends working in lower Manhattan, in Washington, D.C., or on a flight that day, who we couldn't reach for hours because the cell phone lines were jammed. Some were never heard from again.
Our country forever changed that day.
The markets opened a few days later, air travel resumed and we started picking up the pieces and rebuilding. We gave loved ones an extra hug.
One of the biggest surprises that hit the life insurance industry right after 9/11 was the lack of life insurance protection many victims had. High-income earners sometimes had no more than the $50,000 of group life payable to their spouses. News organizations had many stories about surviving spouses needing cash to pay bills and the tremendous financial strain, in addition to the emotional stress, caused by the attacks.
For a short time thereafter, life insurance sales increased. Life insurance protection became a priority for many. Unfortunately, as we started to rebuild our country and we all felt a bit safer, securing life insurance protection didn't remain a priority, and sales dropped.
September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. LIMRA has provided some powerful information regarding life insurance ownership and the need for life insurance protection that you can use with your clients.
Some of the statistics are truly shocking:
- The proportion of U.S. adults with life insurance protection has declined to an all-time low, as 41 percent (95 million) of U.S. adults have no life insurance at all.
- Both men and women are less likely to own life insurance today than they were in 2004 —only 61 percent of men and 57 percent of women have some sort of life insurance coverage.
- Only 1 in 10 insured adults own both permanent and term life insurance — half as many as in 2004.
- The likelihood of being without life insurance has dramatically increased for every age group since 2004.
While going through my files recently, I came across a piece written in 1929 discussing the value of life insurance. If you forgive its political incorrectness, I'd like to share it with you:
A life insurance policy is just a time-yellowed piece of paper, with columns of figures and legal phrases, until it is baptized with a widow's tears. Then it becomes a modern miracle, a sort of Aladdin's Lamp.
It is food, clothing, shelter, education, peace of mind.
It is the sincerest love letter ever written.
It quiets the crying of a hungry baby at night. It eases the heart of a bereaved widow.
It is the comforting whisper in the dark silent hours of the night. It is new hope, fresh courage and strength for the widow to pick up the broken threads of life and carry on. It is an education for the sons and daughters (a chance for a career, instead of the need for a job). It is a father's parental blessing to his children on their wedding day.
It is the function of a father's hopes and dreams for his family's future. Through life insurance he lives on. There is no death. Life Insurance exalts life and defeats death. It is the premium we pay for the privilege of living after death.
- Jack Leterman, John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co., 1929
Especially this weekend, as we reflect on a very somber occasion, let's remember the business we are in, and the value we can bring to every American. Only life insurance can provide guaranteed financial security when it is absolutely needed most.
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