Real-Life Stories from the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education ("LIFE")

Are You Prepared for the Unexpected?

In an instance, Amanda Moses’ life changed. Her husband, and four of his co-workers, died in a plane crash. Thankfully her husband, the company’s president, advance planning helped his family and the company’s employees through a tough time.

Amanda Moses and Ken Howell

Amanda Moses and Ken Howell

Amanda Moses was straightening up her home when the news came on the television. A small plane had crashed at the nearby Talladega, Ala. Airport. There were no survivors. Amanda’s husband, Jeff, and four co-workers were aboard, on their way home from a trip to see clients in Ohio. In an instant, Amanda had lost the love of her life, and her sons, Josh, 22, and Eric, 17, had lost their father.

The accident also dealt a serious blow to Auto Custom Carpets, the world’s leading manufacturer of automotive floor coverings. Jeff was the company’s president and one of three partners. The accident wiped out most of the company’s sales force, and now the jobs of more than 150 employees hung in the balance.

Ken Howell, one of Jeff ’s partners and a longtime friend, didn’t panic. He knew the company would be all right because of a business insurance strategy put in place with the help of his friend and insurance agent Larry Young. Life insurance policies for the partners funded a buy-sell agreement. With the proceeds from Jeff ’s policy, the two remaining partners bought out Amanda’s stock, leaving them in control of the company. The business had also purchased key-person insurance on the lives of all three partners.

Within 30 days of the tragedy, money from this policy was used to hire a salesman from one of the company’s competitors. As for Amanda and the boys, they’re financially secure because of life insurance Jeff owned individually, plus the money Amanda received through the buyout. “I feel blessed that he loved us enough to have the foresight to take care of us,” Amanda said.

Is Your Family’s Most Valuable Asset Protected?

In more than 30 years of farming, Harvey Wood never had an accident. But he didn’t take anything to chance and made sure his family was protected.

Sandy Wood and her children

Sandy Wood and her children

It would be difficult to find someone more cautious than Harvey Wood, a third generation Arizona cotton and citrus farmer. In more than 30 years of farming, he never had an accident.

Harvey was cautious about his financial affairs too. Shortly after marrying his high school sweetheart, Sandy, he bought life insurance to make sure she’d always be protected. Over time, Harvey realized that his coverage hadn’t kept up with growing needs. He and Sandy now had young children and the farm was expanding. That’s when Harvey met with insurance agents, Bryan Buzzard and Bob Sapanaro. After their comprehensive financial needs analysis, he took their advice and significantly increased his coverage.

Still, there were years when crops were ruined and Harvey didn’t know how he could afford the premiums. Knowing how much Harvey needed the coverage, his agents discussed with him how to use the cash values in his whole life policy to keep the insurance in force.

Several years later, Harvey, 50, was refilling a fertilizer tank in front of a tractor when it slipped into gear and killed him. Sandy and the kids were devastated, but there was hardly time to grieve. They quickly realized that the world wouldn’t stop simply because tragedy had struck.

The crops and bills kept growing. “We owed hundreds of thousands of dollars,” says Sandy. “I kept thinking, this farm has been in our family for generations, I can’t lose it now.” But that’s why Harvey had purchased and kept the additional life insurance. With it Sandy paid off the farm debt, college loans, the mortgage and credit card bills. Today, the family is thriving. Sandy handles the business side of the farm, while her son, H.C., manages the farming operations.

“Our life is forever different without Harvey,” says Sandy, “but because he cared so much and bought the life insurance, our way of life hasn’t changed.”

Is Your Family’s Future Protected?

John Ogonowski flew airplanes all his life and understood the risk of his profession. His planning helped ensure his family’s financial future when the unthinkable happened on Sept. 11, 2001.

Caroline, Peg and Laura Ogonowski

Caroline, Peg and Laura Ogonowski

John Ogonowski grew up on a farm and never wanted to give up that life, even as he pursued a distinguished military and civilian flying career. While a young pilot for American Airlines, John began buying land in his hometown of Dracut, Mass., and eventually developed a second career as a hay farmer. John’s wife, Peg, was a flight attendant at American, and they knew her salary would not be enough to support their three young daughters and keep their farm going if something were to happen to John. So John bought life insurance to supplement the coverage provided by the airline.

On Sept. 11, 2001, the unthinkable happened. Terrorists hijacked American Flight 11, commanded by Capt. Ogonowski, and flew it into the World Trade Center. In an instant, Peg found herself at the center of the worst terror attack in the nation’s history, her grief compounded by concerns about how she would manage without John.

A few days later, the Ogonowskis’ insurance agent, Richard Bourgault CLTC LUTCF, came by to offer condolences. The oldest daughter, Laura, then 16, approached him apprenhensively and asked whether they would have to move out of their home. No, he said firmly. “That made all of the difference in the world,” he recalls.

With the insurance proceeds, Peg was able to pay off the mortgage on her home, retire all of the debt on the farm and set aside college money for her girls. Today the 150-acre family farm is still in the business, operated by John’s brother, Jim. Peg, recently retired after a 30-year career with American. “I can’t begin to tell you how huge it was to have had the insurance and to know that we were completely covered,” she says.