2014 Real Life Stories Winners Announced

Life Happens has announced the winners of its annual Real Life Stories Client Recognition Program, which honors insurance professionals for going beyond the call of duty for clients and their families.

Now in its 19th year, the program recognizes exemplary service and expert financial advice and assistance to clients in times of great financial need.

“This year, Life Happens’ Insurance Barometer Study showed that less than one-third of adults have a financial advisor or agent,” said Marvin H. Feldman, CLU, Check, RFC, President and CEO of Life Happens. “People underestimate the importance of expert advice to ensure the financial protection of their families. The insurance agents highlighted in this year’s Real Life Stories program and the stories of the lives they’ve impacted serve as a reminder of how important it is to seek professional guidance. Having adequate insurance protection, including the right amount and the right policy to fit your needs, is a crucial part of responsible financial planning.”

The four recipients, along with their clients, will be honored during the NAIFA 2014 Career Conference and Annual Meeting in San Diego, California. The presentation will take place on September 8, 2014, and a free simulcast will be available at www.lifehappens.org/RLS2014.

The 2014 Life Happens Real Life Stories honorees are:

  • Melissa Mlasco, Futurity First, Medford, Ore. Melissa’s clients, Jim and Judy, were high school sweethearts who later married and had recently entered retirement. Judy had just come to Melissa for help with transitioning from her employer’s health plan to Medicare when she learned that her breast cancer had returned and spread. Melissa researched Judy’s group life insurance policy and coordinated an accelerated death benefit rider, which allowed the couple to live out Judy’s last days free of financial worry. Jim is now able to access funds through Judy’s life insurance proceeds to supplement his retirement income.
  • Steve Edmondson, State Farm, and San Clemente, Calif.: Steve helped his clients Ron and Kelli find permanent life insurance coverage, which offered the couple both financial protection and a means to accumulate cash value. This forward-looking plan proved useful when the couple was able to access funds from their life insurance policies to help with a down payment for their dream home. Later on when money became tight, the couple considered canceling their life insurance, but Steve advised against it and increased their coverage while helping them cut unnecessary spending. Just three years later, Kelli suddenly died of heart failure and now, thanks to her life insurance policy, Ron and their two sons are able to stay in the home they love.
  • Larry Ricke, Ricke & Associates, New Albany, Ind.: Larry’s client, Valerie, was transitioning from her medical residency when her group long-term disability insurance plan was about to terminate. She was already diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and reluctantly converted it to an individual disability income insurance policy. When her ulcerative colitis worsened and she was unable to work, the insurance helped her care for her young daughters as a single parent. Valerie met Tim through her insurance agent. Larry advised Tim to get disability income insurance with MassMutual. When Tim fell ill due to an undiagnosed aneurism and heart valve issue, he too found himself unable to work. Thanks to their individual DI policies, the family was able to keep their home and remain financially stable.
  • Steve Sabo, Sabo Financial Group, Boulder, Colo.: Steve helped to advise one of his small-business owner clients, Scott, to purchase adequate insurance to ensure he was covered both at work and at home.  Steve helped Scott and his business partner, David, put in place a buy-sell agreement funded with life insurance that would make sure his business survive in the event of his death and protect his wife Cathy and their children. When Scott’s business grew, Steve advised him to increase both his personal and business life insurance coverage. Tragically, Scott died in a paddle boarding accident. Thankfully, the policy through Scott’s business enabled Cathy to gain compensation from Scott’s portion of the company without becoming an owner. Now, Cathy and her daughters have time to grieve without financial worry.

This year’s Real Life Stories are available in the form of engaging videos that can be used to help educate clients about the importance of insurance planning. The stories will also be included in a new Life Happens digital advertising campaign, which will kick off during Life Insurance Awareness Month in September.

In addition to the Real Life Stories videos, there are other LIAM-related resources, including many featuring the 2014 LIAM Spokesperson, Boomer Season, available on Life Happens’ industry site. To access all the resources, Life Happens members must register and login to www.lifehappens.org/industry.

Life Happens is accepting applications for the 2015 program, starting September 1, 2014, until January 2, 2015. Licensed insurance professionals and team members are encouraged to visit www.lifehappens.org/reallife to submit their best client success story and receive more information.

To learn more, visit www.lifehappens.org.


By Ayo Mseka



One comment

  1. Please make sure you spell Melissa’s last name correctly. It is Mlasko