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  • The Vail Project

The monetary cost of loss

This is a post about something that affects us all. Money. I have to admit these days I don’t much care about money. I acknowledge it’s necessity in survival.

When someone dies, in our case baby Vail, there are expenses. Lots of them. Things you don’t think or know about. There are the obvious expenses like burial and funerals. Even some that aren't so obvious. Like the cost of flowers or printed materials, cremation and urns etc. There are a lot of details in death and most of them have a price tag attached. Then there are the costs you don’t think about, like being unable to work due to grief. Or fixing the damage to your car because you keep scraping the garage door when you back out...unable to see properly out of your tear filled eyes.

For us the costs slowed after Vail’s funeral, but if your loss is a spouse, the bills would keep adding up. If you were to lose your husband, even if he wasn’t the only bread winner, the loss of his salary would be debilitating. Anyone know what the costs of full time child care and housekeeping are? Me neither, but if you lose your wife, you’ll find out rather quickly. Plus, who wants to run right back to work after such a loss. I promise you the answer is no one. Work is the last thing you want to do. Money is the last thing you care about. Yet the world keeps on spinning and the mailman keeps bringing the bills.

A few days after Vail passed I got the courage up to call the life insurance company. I won’t slander them here by name, but if anyone wants to know the specifics, you can call me and I’ll gladly bad mouth them to you in person. When I called they told me they had all the documents and the agent would return my call the next day. When the agent called, he very abruptly told me that Vail’s policy had never been activated. Of course I asked why not. He told me that I hadn’t asked them to. I lost it. My baby was dead and this jerk had the balls to tell me we had no insurance and that it was my fault. So I did what any other totally irrational grief stricken mother would do...I went looking for proof that I hadn’t screwed up. I combed my emails. I found all the correspondence where I asked them to write the policy, about a week before Vail was born. Even the part where I said I would call from the hospital when she had been delivered. Then I went to the phone records. This took more time, as they were so old I had to request them from the phone company. When they arrived, they showed that I hadn’t made a single call from the hospital for the full two days I was there. I knew this to be false, as I called my husband, my mother-in-law, my best friend and...the insurance company. So then I checked my last option for proof that I wasn’t a complete failure...the credit card. I check all our bank accounts, every credit card we have and found nothing. Not that this proved anything. I know I called, and I know I gave them the card number to make the first payment. They didn’t process it. Not the paperwork. Not the card.

Of course as a mother of a 2.5 year old and new infant, it never occurred to me to follow up. And the policy cost pennies, so I never noticed the monthly reoccurring bill hadn’t changed by a few dollars. I never thought of it again. Until the unthinkable happened. And when it did, we had no insurance.

This is a cautionary tale of course. Months later, Steve and I talked about it and we decided to fire our agent. Mostly because he made no effort to make it right.

That’s when Steve met with a new agent. He learned about a new type of life insurance. Something called “living benefits.” In this new type of policy, you can access a percentage of the value of your policy if you have a major medical issue, like cancer or a stroke. The percentages vary based on the illness or injury but ranges from 25-90% of the total value. What was extra amazing about this new insurance is that we could get it for the same price as what we were paying for standard life insurance that only pays out when you die.

It was a no brainer for us. Get rid of our old agent who failed to do his paperwork, and get better coverage in the process. Plus our new agent was very kind and understanding of why we wanted to make the change.

I’m not trying to sell anyone anything. I just want to reach anyone that I can. Life is cruel and has terrible timing and hits you where it hurts. Most of us live life like these losses are impossible. We sure did. Then when the horrible thing we didn’t dream was possible happens, we were left holding the bag. Or bill. Don’t be us. Do better. Protect your family even though the odds are low. Cover your spouse, get a policy for your children. Even if it’s not a lot of coverage, get something you can afford. When the day comes and I hope it never does for you, but if it comes, you won’t be sorry.

If you have any interest in living benefits policies please call our agent: Eric Masters at Five Rings Financial: at: 970-389-4798. He writes coverage in any state, so it doesn’t matter if you don’t live in Colorado.

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