Teaching high schoolers and equipping them with the skills they need to succeed in life gave Carlos Lopez great satisfaction. After teaching for 11 years and serving as a principal for 20, though, he decided it was time for a new challenge and signed on as an insurance agent with New York Life.
When he started, Carlos wasn’t sure his new career would allow him to make as big a difference in people’s lives as he did when he was teaching. But after making the ultimate difference in a client’s life, Carlos has an intensely personal understanding of the importance of making sure people in his community have adequate life insurance protection.
Like many agents new to the business, Carlos, a member of El Paso AIFA (Texas), made sure early on that the most important people in his life, his family and friends, were adequately insured. He quickly realized that his son Fernando, 30, had a significant life insurance need. To Fernie, as his father called him, no one was more important than his wife Lisa, 26, and their 6-year-old son Isaac. He and Lisa worked as servers at an upscale steak house, but both had dreams of something better. Fernie was attending community college to pursue a career in law enforcement, and Lisa was planning on returning to college to complete her degree.
CARLOS SAYS THAT THE EXPERIENCE PROFOUNDLY AFFECTED HIS FEELINGS ABOUT BEING A LIFE INSURANCE AGENT.
Three priorities were identified during Carlos’ first meeting with Fernie and Lisa to discuss their financial goals. “Fernie told me that his No. 1 goal was to provide funds for Lisa to finish college,” says Carlos. “‘She’s a heck of a lot smarter than I am,’ he told me.” The second goal was to land a good-paying job in law enforcement and use his higher income to put a down payment on a house of their own. The final goal was to create an education fund so that Isaac could one day attend the college of his choice.
After considering these goals and conducting a financial needs analysis, Carlos recommended that Fernie buy a $150,000 whole life policy. The monthly premium was sure to add some additional strain to the family’s already tight budget. But according to Carlos, this was one purchase Fernie was intent on making. “He told me that he would just have to do a little bit better on tips,” says Carlos.
For Fernie and Lisa, the next few months seemed out of a storybook. That May, Fernie graduated with an associate’s degree in criminal justice. He attended a recruiting session for the federal prison system and was selected first in the group for a position in Indiana that would begin in the fall. With his new job and higher salary, the new home he and Lisa had dreamed of would become a reality, and they could finally start adding to Isaac’s college fund.
Big dreams cut short
The family was in the midst of preparing for the big move when tragedy struck. Returning from a late night shift at the restaurant, Fernie was involved in a car accident that took his life. The morning Fernie was laid to rest was incredibly difficult for the entire family. Yet Carlos made sure that Lisa understood that because of the insurance proceeds, she and Isaac would be financially secure.
Lisa misses Fernie every day. Five years later, the life insurance has allowed Lisa to make a better life for her and Isaac. Lisa quit her job at the restaurant to complete her degree, and today she is a pharmaceutical representative in Tucson, Ariz. She and Isaac live in the new home Fernie had always dreamed of, and Lisa has been able to set aside money for Isaac’s future education needs. And with Isaac needing her more than ever, life insurance is another important part of Lisa’s budget today.
Carlos says the experience profoundly affected his feelings about being a life insurance agent. “I’m dedicating my life to the profession now,” says Carlos. “Fernando hadn’t planned a premature death, but we face it every single day. Our jobs are so important. When I started as an insurance salesman, I didn’t understand the true value. But when it hit home, it made me the firmest believer you’ll ever meet.”
Jon Dressner is vice president of the LIFE. For more information on LIFE’s realLIFEstories program or to obtain a realLIFEstories application, visit www.LIFE-line.org or call 202-464-5000.