NAIFA Members Honored for Exemplary Client Service

Four NAIFA members are the recipients of the 2015 Real Life Stories Client Recognition Program, which celebrates insurance agents and advisors for their outstanding professional and personal commitments to supporting clients and their families in times of need.

Currently in its 20th year, the program reinforces Life Happens’ core mission of raising public awareness of the importance of insurance coverage as part of a sound financial plan. This year, the program showcases the stories of agents who have gone above and beyond to ensure their clients and their loved ones were financially prepared for the future in the wake of a disabling accident or unexpected family death.

The 2015 Real Life Stories award recipients are:

Juli McNeely, LUTCF, CFP, CLU, McNeely Financial Services, Inc., Spencer, Wis.: As their family began to grow, Sam and Amy McNeely knew they needed more life insurance coverage than what was provided through Sam’s employer. To ensure their infant daughter, Charli, would be protected if anything were to happen to them, they turned to NAIFA President and insurance agent Juli McNeely for help in getting a policy that would provide adequate coverage in the event of their deaths.

When Sam fell ill and suddenly died at the age of 38 from a dissected aorta, McNeely reminded Amy of the life insurance policies with Mutual Trust Financial Group, Auto-Owners Life Insurance Company and EMC National Life she and Sam had purchased prior to Charli’s birth. McNeely couldn’t take away the emotional pain of losing Sam, but she knew his insurance policy would help them financially. Sam’s life insurance policy through his work, and the policies that McNeely helped the family set up, have allowed Amy and Charli to live their lives without financial hardship. To see more, watch the video .

Lars Hansen, LUTCF, American National, Mesa, Ariz.: For Jason and Nicole Sherman, providing for their two daughters was at the heart of everything they did. Working with agent Lars Hansen, they both agreed that purchasing adequate life insurance was important to them and a crucial part of protecting their daughters’ financial future. Hansen continued meeting with the couple each year to review their needs and make adjustments to their coverage, helping to foster a friendship that went beyond that of a client-advisor relationship. Tragically, in 2005, after witnessing an accident on the freeway and checking to see if anyone was hurt, Nicole was struck by a car, leaving Jason as a single dad, concerned about caring for his young daughters while still working to provide them with financial stability. With the proceeds from an individual life insurance policy Hansen had helped put in place for Nicole, Jason was given time to grieve and spend time with his daughters, without having to worry about his family’s financial stability. To see more, watch the video .

James Jacobs, CLU, ChFC, AXA, Chesterfield, Va.: At the age of 27, Michael Sizemore was living his dream – training for his first marathon and starting a job as a lobbyist, where he could do what he loved–give back to others. As a new employee, Michael was eligible for his employer’s benefit program, which agent James Jacobs had established for the organization. Although Michael was young and healthy, Michael took full advantage of all the benefits offered through his employer and a number of individual insurance policies, including a disability insurance policy with Ameritas Life Insurance Corp.

Just a year later while on a trip to Washington D.C., Michael was hit by a drunk driver, which left him in a medically induced coma with more than $2 million in medical expenses. The group health insurance paid for his hospital medical expenses, and through the individual disability insurance coverage that Jacobs helped Michael put in place, he has enough income to continue living his life and pay for his physical therapy, despite being unable to work. To see more, watch the video.

Craig Wiklund, CLU, ChFC, Wiklund & Bond Financial Services, Auburn Hills, Mich.: Wiklund helped advise his close friend and small-business-owner client, John Gongos, to purchase insurance to ensure both his family and his research company were taken care of if anything were to happen to him. Wiklund helped John develop a succession plan for his company and purchase life insurance policies with Voya Financial and AXA, which would fund that agreement and protect the employees he considered family.

Tragically, at the age of 51, John was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma. Just two weeks after his diagnosis, John passed away, leaving his wife, kids, and devoted employees in shock. Thanks to John’s insurance policies, he was able to not only take care of his family, allowing his wife Anne and their three children to stay in their house, he was also able to take care of his employees and keep his business running. To see more, watch the video.

These honorees, along with their clients, will be formally recognized at NAIFA’s Career Conference and Annual Meeting from October 3-5 in New Orleans. A presentation ceremony will take place on Sunday, October 4, 2015. Starting June 23, the 2015 Real Life Stories will be available to insurance agents and advisors, along with new Life Insurance Awareness Month marketing resources, via the new Life Happens Pro website at

Engaging videos, flyers and brochures featuring success stories can be powerful educational tools for insurance professionals to use with their clients. Agents and advisors who subscribe to Life Happens Pro have the ability to personalize these materials with their contact information and company branding, and can download or embed the content directly to use on their agency websites.

Life Happens Pro is currently available for a 30-day free trial period and subscriptions of $39 per month or $399 per year. Insurance professionals affiliated with Life Happens member associations, such as NAIFA, MDRT, NAILBA, AALU, GAMA and others, can qualify for substantial discounts. For more information, visit

Life Happens will also begin accepting applications for its 2016 Real Life Stories Client Recognition Program now through December 7, 2015. Licensed insurance professionals and their teams are encouraged to visit to submit their best client success story or to learn more about the Real Life Stories program. To learn more, visit

Ayo Mseka