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Putting the “critical” in critical illness

James Crouch

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Conversations about illness and death can be extremely difficult, especially as parents consider their own wellbeing as well as their children’s. In this session, Crouch establishes processes through which advisors can enhance clients’ understanding of critical illness and life insurance products and ease their concerns about their financial outlook. This presentation divides into a variety of segments including modern-day parenting, technology, the food industry and much more, while connecting the challenges of understanding the present and planning for the future. You will learn how to communicate to clients the need to protect their children and grandchildren against critical illness and their ability to qualify for life insurance in the years ahead.

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What I hope to achieve:

  • To help you understand and provide you with facts that confirm why juvenile critical illness and life insurance are more prevalent than ever before
  • To highlight how the pressures of modern-day parenting are restricting and changing the behaviors of today’s family households
  • To share with you information, skills, and knowledge that will help you improve your personal marketing activity and sales process when offering advice to juveniles

By the end of the session, you will know how to market and generate a desire by your clients to protect children and grandchildren against the potential issue of critical illness and/or their ability to qualify for life insurance in the years ahead.

You are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down.

I’m going to focus on five topics within the presentation:

  1. Modern-day parenting—a close look at the impact of dual-earning families
  2. The food industry and how it’s changing the well-being of our children
  3. Technology and its negative aspects
  4. The numbers that do not lie and factual statistic evidence of a generational decline in mental and physical well-being
  5. The definition of crazy and the impact of the industry doing what it has always done—how to move from negative to positive conversations

At the end, we will have a “call to action” and a review of the key points.

Let’s talk about the impact of sugar. You like it, you crave it, and you become addicted. What happens when you eat sugar?

  • Your blood sugar levels spike.
  • Dopamine is released into your brain.
  • Insulin is secreted to drop blood sugar levels.
  • It causes your blood sugar levels to drop rapidly.
  • It produces high insulin levels, which cause immediate fat storage.
  • Your body begins to crave the lost sugar high.
  • You have hunger and cravings.
  • Low blood sugar levels cause increased appetite and cravings.
  • You eat more sugar, and the cycle is repeated.

A perfect storm is brewing causing concerns that the current juvenile generation will be the first generation that does not outlive its parents. The difficulty we face is that not many parents want to consider the death or critical illness of their child. So, we have to learn to change our story.

It’s not what you say; it’s the way you say it.

Let’s watch this video clip that demonstrates how to change a message and make it more memorable and impactful, just by changing your words. [visual] In the clip, a blind man sits outside with a sign that reads, “I’m blind. Please help.” Several people walk by and drop coins into his tin. A woman walks by and notices his sign. She picks it up and writes something else on the reverse side. Suddenly, he starts receiving more offerings. At the end, we see that the sign now reads, “It’s a beautiful day, but I cannot see it.”

It’s not what you say but how you say it.

1. Modern-Day Parenting

The number of dual-earning families in Canada 40 years ago was 1 million. What is it today? 1.9 million.

In 1976, the number of families where one parent earned a paycheck was 59 percent. What is it today? 27 percent.

The number of women in the Canadian workforce in 2014 was 47 percent. What is it today? 60 percent.

This has had a big impact on family life. Stay-at-home moms are declining. With schedules getting busier, the current generation of parents is finding it difficult to dedicate the same amount of time to their children. There is supper to prepare; there’s a taxi service to activities to run; there’s the daily functions of paying the household bills, etc.; there are groceries and shopping to be done; children still need help with their homework; and most households have a family pet that needs taking care of.

Like the evolution of the Coke bottle, which has gotten bigger, the job of dual parenting has also increased.

What is the cost of child activities? As we walk through this, don’t lose sight of the fact that many households have more than one child. Most households consider involving their children in activities to be a key or major priority.

Here is the average price of participating in the following sports for a child:

  • Hockey = $7,013
  • Lacrosse = $7,956
  • Baseball = $4,044
  • Football = $2,739
  • Soccer = $1,472
  • Basketball = $1,143

What about dance and its surprising cost? If we were to look at ballet and the cost of tuition, based on the dancer’s grade, the cost ranges from $3,500 to $6,000 per year. [visual]

Let’s talk about the family pet. What do you think the cost of pet insurance is per month? But before I tell you, I want you to understand that parents in typical households do this without thinking, so that their pet is adequately covered in the event of an illness or emergency—because it’s considered the normal thing to do. The average cost from a range of insurers is $42.45 per month.

How do we make parents think differently and understand that maybe their child, or children, should also have the same, if not more, protection?

What percentage of Americans between the ages of 15 and 19 pay their own phone bill?

The answer is 25 percent, which means that 75 percent of parents see payment of their child’s phone bill as a priority.

What is the average cost of car insurance in the United States? It’s $907.38 annually or $75.61 per month. Parents do this because they have to; it’s the law. They don’t have to protect their children’s health and well-being; it is not the law.

What about eating out? If Americans spent $52 billion last year on groceries, how much do you think they spent in bars, clubs, and restaurants? The answer is $54 billion.

Last year, for the first time ever, Americans spent more on eating out than they did on household groceries. There’s a correlation here with both parties working. No one has time to cook; it’s easier just to eat out.

Here are things we protect without thinking:

  • Our jewelry
  • Our homes
  • Our appliances
  • Our electronics

People buy extended warranties on dishwashers because they don’t want to be met with a repair bill.

I love this. The following quote made me think: “Your priorities aren’t what you say they are. They are revealed by how you live.” We say that our children are our priorities, but when you look at the way we live, it tells a different story:

  • The car
  • The house
  • Eating out
  • The jewelry
  • The pet
  • Hockey
  • Gymnastics
  • Basketball
  • The dishwasher
  • The child

Being a modern-day parent shapes the way you live your life and your priorities.

2. The Food Industry

“People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.” (Wendell Berry)

I’m not telling you, as a parent, that making the following changes is going to be easy, but what I am telling you is that they are going to be worth it.

The biggest challenge we face as parents is resisting temptation because it’s easy.

The trouble is with fast food. In 1972, we spent $3 billion on fast food. Today we spend more than $110 billion on fast food. The average child sees 10,000 TV advertisements per year.

This may be the reason why kids are in danger of becoming obese:

  • Price of a bottle of Coke = $0.99
  • Price of a bottle of water = $1.99
  • Price of a small cheeseburger = $0.99
  • Price of a salad = $4.99

It’s time to get real about food and the effect the food industry is having on the insurance industry.

  • Eighty percent of the foods in America have added sugar.
  • It’s as addictive as heroin.
  • Eighty percent of the issue could be resolved by changing the lunch programs in our schools.
  • Children will have shorter lives than their parents.
  • Ninety-five percent of all Americans will be overweight or obese within two decades.
  • Obesity is government sponsored.

Let me share with you my Disney World experience.

Let’s talk about the fill-me-up-as-much-as-you-like cup. I am guilty and did not decline the easy temptation. While at Disney World a few years ago, relaxing by the pool in the sun, my 7-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter were thirsty. I purchased, for the price of $15, the fill-me-up-as-much-as-you-like pop cup. I thought they would not come running to me every time they got thirsty, giving them, because of ease, access to as much sugar as they wanted to consume.

Understand that things are changing to the effect that, left unabated, obesity will surpass smoking as the leading cause of preventable death. Translated into my story, that means I shouldn’t have given the kids a drink; I should have just given them a cigarette.

Purchasing Food at the Mall

That’s one reason why kids are obese. Busy parent, at the mall, we’re hungry. Fast food is an easy and cheap fix—$2 for a Coke and a burger versus $7 for a salad and a water.

It’s Time to Get Real About Food

There is a documentary called Fed Up. It focuses on the causes of obesity in the United States. As you watch the movie trailer, write down and memorize the three most alarming facts you hear about the impact of the food industry in America. [visual]

The most alarming point for me is that children will have shorter lives than their parents at this rate.

With modern-day parenting, the pace of life and marketing are contributing toward the couch-potato generation.

3. Technology

This next section enables us to look at the impact that technology can have on children and provides some insight toward what the medical profession considers its negative impacts.

What happens when the children of any age are fed a diet of mainly virtual world interactions?

  • They are found to be at risk of developing learning difficulties.
  • They have a much harder time dealing with emotions and feelings.
  • They exhibit problem behavior at home and at school.

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that overuse plays a big role in the quality of children’s health and well-being.

It impacts:

  • Thinking and learning: a decreased attention span, underdeveloped or delayed language abilities, and decreased intrinsic motivation of learning
  • Feelings and behavior: hyperactivity, aggression, fear, insensitivity, appetite for violence

Let’s take a look at some of the findings resulting from the research done by Yale University, National Institutes of Health, and California Pacific Medical Center. The research examined how media influences obesity, tobacco and drug abuse, alcohol use, low academic achievement, and ADHD.

The findings showed that the more time children spend with screen and media, the more likely they are to be impacted with negative health outcomes. Today’s child, on average, spends 45 hours a week with TV, movies, the internet, and video games. That is 6.42 hours a day! That’s much more than the recommended two hours a day.

4. The Numbers That Do Not Lie

Here is a favorite quote of mine: “People can’t change the truth, but the truth can change people.” In this next section, we spend some time looking at the truth through numbers in the hope that they give you the information you need to change the people or the parents’ thinking about protecting their children.

Young Canadian adults are at risk. Young people are beginning their adult lives with multiple risk factors for heart disease. Over the past 15 years, Canada has seen a significant increase in obesity, being overweight, having high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Child cancer, is it really happening? There is good and bad news. The bad news: Cancer is on the rise. The good news: We can beat it! But understand that approximately 10 children are diagnosed with cancer during every school day. Cancer is the number one cause of death among Canadian children.

The incidence of childhood cancer has increased every year for the last five years!

Nearly one in every 40 children born will develop one of the 30 illnesses that is covered by critical illness insurance before the age of 20.

Fifty percent of all CI claims are for children ages zero to 15.

Heart attack, high blood pressure, and diabetes are diseases that are exploding into the next generation and are no longer diseases of the aging.

There are more than 250,000 young Canadians in their 20s and 30s who have high blood pressure. This has almost doubled in 15 years.

In America, in the last 15 years, the number of children with type 2 diabetes has doubled. One in three American children that were born in the year 2000 will likely be diagnosed with diabetes in his or her lifetime. The same story is anticipated for Canada.

“To change your life, you need to change your priorities.”

Here is the Time magazine cover from December 24, 2012, that highlights the challenges faced by the next generation due to the exposure they have to risk. [visual]

Let’s break this down to basics. Let’s agree on what parents do not want to consider and start the process of getting your mind aligned to what needs to be considered and how to address the positive rather than talk about the negative. Parents do not want to consider:

  • Death
  • Critical illness
  • Financial hardship

Parents do want to provide a good education. Parents and grandparents want a good quality of life for them and their children.

It is time for us to break through and influence thinking positively.

5. The Definition of Crazy (Moving to a Positive Conversation)

As financial planners, we spend our time trying to get people to plan when they have the least amount of disposable income! This cycle has existed for generations. Let’s look at life.

  • The average student loan is $25,000.
  • The average car payment is around $350.
  • The average mortgage payment is around $700.
  • Despite a low payout, 89 percent of future retirees plan to rely on the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) to take care of their expenses during retirement. And 31 percent say they’ll heavily depend on the CPP. The average amount a recipient gets is just $549.19 per month.

What if you could, as a parent, have an impact in these areas, reduce your child’s future expenditure, break the cycle that has existed for generations, and maybe give your child the possibility of not relying on the CPP in his or her retirement?

What if you could provide value now at a low cost and help inject thousands into the most expensive part of their lives?

If that was your conversation, do you think parents and grandparents are going to be more willing to understand how you can do that, as opposed to their child possibly dying or getting very sick?

Don’t forget a parent’s income would also be negatively impacted if a child had a critical illness. What percentage of income is typically lost by families that have a critically ill child? Remember, a period of convalescence can last for years. The answer is 30 percent.

Most likely, the first thing the parents would stop paying is their own financial plans, so as a planner, let’s not forget the impact of these plans being impacted or lost due to the inability to meet the premiums or dip into savings.

Your Financial Pyramid

Invest in the Future: This is at the top of your financial pyramid. Contribute to retirement accounts and/or college savings accounts, develop an intelligently allocated portfolio, continually sharpen and expand your investing skills, and ensure you’re saving enough to meet your long-term goals.

Preserve and Grow Your Personal Capital: This is the second tier of the financial pyramid. Develop your career, preserve and improve your health, get legal affairs in order (estate planning, a will, etc.), and build equity in your home.

Acquire a Roof and Reassurance: This is the third tier of your financial pyramid. Maintain a sufficient emergency fund, buy a home (if that makes sense for your situation), and obtain enough personal property insurance to protect all your stuff.

Build a Firm Foundation: This is the bottom of your financial pyramid. Align spending with income, begin to build a healthy cash reserve, eliminate and avoid consumer debt, and acquire life insurance if others are dependent on your income.

Let’s take a second to just review what we have discussed so far and have a little summary.

  • Parents need help to understand what is true priority and why that is the case.
  • Their choices are possibly not intentional ones in terms of selecting what is important.
  • Their own plans are at risk if not protected. As financial planners, it’s our job to remove risk for the parents’ plan.
  • Lifestyles have changed. Both parents are working, and life is busy. Parents are being marketed to by billion-dollar businesses that may not have their child’s best interests at heart.
  • The perfect storm has arrived already, and it’s been here for some time. It’s also showing no signs of slowing down.

The numbers for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer do not lie.

The financial solutions include a possible solution and a more motivating conversation.

Let’s take a look at the financial commitment required to plan and protect both the parents’ planning and the guaranteed insurability of children, while they can qualify, and in doing so, look at what a positive impact that makes in the long run. We will look at the cost of delay with a typical Canadian product that offers both life insurance with an increased benefit rider and critical illness protection. This product also carries the option of ongoing guaranteed insurability.

Child Life and Health Combo Plan

If you had $818 per month of disposable income, how could you impact your clients’ financial planning?

  • The cost of $100,000 for a 2-, 4-, 8-, and 12-year-old monthly and annually
  • The cost of the product at age 30 years old if insurable—also, assuming your clients have disposable income, remember their expenditure is high in this stage of life.
  • The amount of money you would have saved that child over 15, 20, and 65 years
  • Same example looking at $500,000 and $700,000 of face

All of which leads to the big question: If you could inject a savings of $147,240 into your child’s life over the 15 years when life is at its most expensive, guarantee them insurance protection which is paid for, and provide them with guaranteed insurability, would you want to see how we could make it work?

As Confucius said, “The man who asks a question is a fool for five minutes, the man who does not ask is a fool forever.” Just ask the question.

Which one of these is most important: the house, the pet, the activities, the education, your financial plan, or the protection for your children?

Call to Action

Knowledge is power. Knowledge is only potential power; it is totally useless until it is placed in the hands of someone who can take action.

  • Get active in your own way.
  • Know your client and make lists.
  • Build your story and practice your delivery.
  • Watch the documentary Fed Up. Use it to your advantage.
  • Change your words; change your world.

Review the key points and possible actions, moving from knowledge into using that knowledge to making it worth having.

Take a moment to write down one or two things that you learned and would consider implementing in your business or process.

You are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down.

James Crouch is an advisor, manager and consultant with three decades of experience in the financial services profession. His presentations are relevant to anyone looking to enhance their ability in positioning critical illness insurance to both adults and kids.


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