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Cover Life's Bases

Practice Management: A former Los Angeles Dodger, Stan Russell uses his love for baseball to help illustrate to his clients the need to protect their income.

Wednesday, May 14th 2008, 1:15PM
After high school, Russell was drafted and played professional baseball for four years before his athletic career was cut short by an arm injury. From there, he moved on to the financial services industry. He shares his baseball analogy with other advisers.

I explain to clients that I have my CLU, ChFC, CSA and CLTC professional designations, but these don't mean anything to them if they don't understand what we talk about. To help them understand products and their purposes, I use a simple baseball diamond diagram:

  • First base is medical insurance. Many clients are already covered through work, but being uncovered can result in astronomical medical bills with a single illness.
  • Second base is life insurance. I call it "love insurance," as most people who buy this product love someone. I ask clients: "How much do you love your family? Put a number on it, and then insure yourself - and your spouse - for that amount."
  • Third base is disability income insurance. This protects clients' No. 1 asset: their ability to work and get paid so they can feed and take care of their family. Third base should also include long-term care insurance and, for many, critical illness insurance.
  • Home plate is retirement planning, estate planning, wills and trusts. I tell clients that they must be able to put their head on their pillow every night and understand that "all of their bases are covered" and that nothing could financially destroy their family.
A few days after I explain the baseball diamond, I usually get a call saying we need to meet again, and that they need to purchase more second and third base. And, we should also start increasing home plate with our retirement plan, and update our wills and trusts.

Personal experience leaves no room for doubt in Russell's mind about the importance of covering clients' financial bases.

When his 36-year-old wife, Jill, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia, the disability and life insurance policies he owned saved him from shutting down his business and losing the house he shared with his family.

His question is pertinent to clients and colleagues: Have you covered all of your bases and those of your clients?

Source: Million Dollar Round Table

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