I am sometimes so caught up in to-do lists, budgets, project reports, deadlines, presentations, meetings and the stuff that defines the business day, that I forget the purpose–the why of what we do–how it matters.
I was having lunch with a business contact and was describing Andesa’s accomplishments for the past year. As part of our plan to expand our commitment to the life insurance industry, we completed the conversion of a 30-plus-year-old system for the National Catholic Society of Foresters based in Mount Prospect, IL.
Unaware of the fraternal system as a model for insurance, I began to explain the 125-plus -year history of NCSF; how a mother of six children passed away early in 1891. There was no money to pay for the funeral expenses, and the Holy Family parish in Chicago took up a collection.
This planted the seed in the minds of several women, who proceeded to spread the word, obtain members and establish a mutual benefit organization. In today’s vernacular and mobile, social-media-driven world, we would describe this as crowdfunding. In 1891 it was what families and neighbors did.
As I described this background, my friend’s countenance began to change. “It’s really special what your team does,” he noted. “My father passed away when I was very young, and my mother struggled to raise us. Life insurance would have made a huge impact.”
Here was a highly successful, self-made entrepreneur. I am certain that a portion of his success derives from the lessons learned through those early-life struggles. But he was not feeling sorry for himself; he was just pointing out to me that the purpose of Andesa can have tremendous influence beyond the products and services we deliver. In many ways we can have meaningful impact on the lives of unknown others.
On a similar note, I had another conversation with a colleague whose father had recently passed away. He was sharing his story of grieving and helping his mother transition to a new home. “You know, Ron, one of the best gifts my father gave to us, and especially to my mother, was a life insurance policy which has helped to ease the burden of all of this change,” he commented; “I don’t think I realized how important what we do in our industry is until it affected me directly.”
Life insurance is one of those benefits you hope you never have to utilize. In our small company, which averaged approximately 100 employees over my eleven years with the firm, I am aware of three times where employees were cared for under our life insurance benefit. In all three circumstances, the safety net of life insurance made a meaningful impact.
Your Work Makes A Difference, You Make a Difference
September is National Life Insurance Awareness Month.
Life insurance is one of those benefits or financial protection instruments which can change lives. Many recognize the importance of life insurance, the peace of mind and security it can provide when confronted with the death of a loved one; but far too few prioritize it in their budget and lifestyles. In fact, life insurance lags behind saving for a comfortable retirement and concerns over long-term health care costs in most financial planning surveys.
Life insurance isn’t cool, it isn’t sexy – it isn’t meant to be nor should it be. There is nothing cool and sexy about the death of someone close. It should be comforting, it should be meaningful. It should be the right product for the individual at the right time. And so while our industry rushes to “digitize the purchase experience” and make it easier to consume our product, perhaps we are overlooking the importance of our purpose. Caring for the individual consumer, understanding their situation and need are critical elements of life insurance awareness.
Andesa does not offer financial products or sell life insurance. But our clients do. We provide software and services to organizations who make an impact in individual lives and who are worthy of our respect.
Approximately 6 out of 10 Americans have some form of life insurance; however, about half of those rely solely on employer sponsored insurance leaving many vulnerable if they were to lose or change their jobs.
Statistics also indicate that Americans with insurance are under-insured – having approximately 3.5 times their annual income versus a recommended 7 or 10 times level. This percentage under-funding decreases with rising income levels which further exacerbates the situation.
In the book The Leadership Triangle by Kevin Ford and Ken Tucker, the authors note “There is no greater satisfaction in leadership than when our little part of the world has an outsized influence.” If my few words during Life Insurance Awareness Month have you consider your own financial situation, that would be an outsized influence.
If my few words have you consider a career in the noble life insurance field or in a company supporting the industry, that would be an outsized influence. Every once in a while, it’s important that someone reminds me “It’s really special what your team does.”