Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Dangers Of Speaking For Yourself

It's never just about you
In my business of insurance and benefits, I come in contact with people every day. People ask me questions, I give them information, and then they usually make some level of decision as to what their next move will be.
Every now and then, I come across the person with no questions and a surly attitude about the entire insurance "scam" process by saying the six words destined to come back around and spank them firmly on the tookis..."IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN TO ME".
Just typing that hurts. However, in some cases they might be right (to a certain degree). I can't predict the future any more than they can, however, I know of people who have never spent a day in the hospital, have never been to see a doctor, never taken a medication, or had anything happen to them physically or mentally that they needed to be concerned with.
Should someone like that really see the need to insure themselves. I think so but I can see where they are coming from. Call it luck, good genes, or born under a favorable sign. Whatever it is, the "charmed ones" feel invincible and impervious to painful situations where they will ever need a shred of insurance. They even go so far as to be very cavalier with their aging process and inevitable death as they say, "WHAT DO I CARE...I'LL BE DEAD".
This is where I take my chance to speak up and remind people that it's not all about them.The discussion could go on for days with just a simple phrase of "But what if?" They can reply back and I'll reply with the same phrase until one of us just agrees to disagree and move on.
The harsh reality about insurance of all kinds is the fact that it really is not all about the person in the place of decision. In all insurance aspects, other people in the lives of the decision-makers come into play. Let's look at a few insurance pieces and I'll show you what I mean:

1 - Health insurance. This is the big one. Sure it's expensive, but so is health care. By saying no to health insurance you are telling all those around you that should something happen to you you are counting on them to help you pay the exorbitant hospital bill. By saying no to health insurance, you are telling all your future creditors that you don't care if you have to file for bankruptcy.

2 - Disability insurance. Disability insurance allows you to have an income while you are away from your job due to some illness or injury. Unless you are able to accumulate sick days or have a pretty big savings account (which is a form of insurance), a disability can ruin you...and those around you. Things happen every day that keep people from doing their jobs. Some of those things last a couple of days while others can last a year or more...or indefinitely. From the time it takes a working person to go from injured to getting any government assistance to gain income, it could be two years or more. What do you think happens in that time? Your stuff starts getting taken from you. So when things start to fall apart, where does the wise one now turn for help? That's right...others. Those people he didn't think about to begin with are now his lifeline to survival.

3 - Life insurance. I go over this one until I am blue in the face. While the insured doesn't care what happens to them when they die, others and the law do. The "hefty bag" answer is not an option. A "Weekend At Bernie's" comedy is not in the cards. Life insurance has never been about the insured. It's always been about who they leave behind when they die. Even for the single 20-something, life insurance says to their friends and family that they will financially take care of their final expenses and leave the money so that things may be done properly and in order.

As I type this, I am reminded of one word this all boils down to...RESPONSIBILITY.

My last statement is this: the next time you have a decision to make, ask if anyone else will directly or indirectly be effected by this decision at some point and how making the right one can make for a better situation for everyone involved.

It's never just about you.

Would you like to talk about insurance options for yourself? How about for others in your life who need to consider the options they have?

I try to be a phone call (205-370-8453) or an email (

Since I used RESPONSIBILITY (it's ok to admit that sometimes you just don't want it) as the key word in here, I thought a funny take on it would be in order:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Healthy Is Up To You

As many of you know, I am the Birmingham Association of Health Underwriters President-Elect. With that duty comes the responsibility of acquiring speakers at our monthly meeting to come and present something on a topic we can all use to further our education.

This month, I was able to procure Dr. James Fox to come and talk to us all about wellness and wellness programs. While this may seem like a topic of little to no interest for people, the reality is that it applies to everyone whether they were in the room or not.

Thinking about wellness made me think back over my life and the health I have had...both good and bad. I've been through kidney disorders, weight problems, inactivity, and the usual cuts and bruises we all get through life. The message we heard and the message I give a hearty "Amen" to is that wellness can no be packaged in a cure all and be expected to be entertained much less activated by those who are delivered this "miracle" option. Ask any company who has had a wellness program in place that failed miserably and I am thinking that the reason for that failure was that the plan was not personal for the individuals who really needed it.

Another main point that Dr. Fox made was that wellness is up to the individual. The person must want to change before change can begin. It's like the person who has an addiction and needs rehab. You can take them there 100 times, but until THEY want to change the trips there are just chances to see old friends, have a place to sleep, eat and be left alone.

With that in mind, let's look at some things we can all consider as we look at wellness as a program within ourselves, our families and/or our places of business:

1 - Get input from those who will be putting in. Let's be honest, the best laid plan in the world is worthless if the plan is never acted upon. The best way to get a plan acted on is to be sure that everyone involved has a say to start with. No one likes to be told what is good for them or what they need to do to change. Start off right by involving everyone in the planning process and success has a better chance of following.

2 - Have a way to monitor. Whether it's a goal of financial gain or a personal goal to achieve something, everyone agrees that setting the goal and then monitoring progress is the key to achieving those goals. Monitoring must be scheduled and consistent to see results and allow for feedback. A wellness plan without a way to monitor is just a list of "do it if you feel like it". This part is where a good plan gets weighed way down because activating the plan took so much work. Many feel the hard part is over but the monitoring is what makes a difference. Weekly meetings? Reminders? Charts? Whatever you and the crew decide is best, let that be your measuring tape and make sure everyone checks in regularly.

3 - Accountability. Ask anyone who has successfully lost weight or quit a habit and the majority of those people will tell you that one key to their success was having someone in the trenches with them. Partner people up who have similar goals they want to achieve. Give them a lifeline when they want to stop after 3 days. There is no better cure for feelings of "I can't" than to have someone right there with them encouraging them on to "I did it".

4 - Honesty. Ask anyone who has been a part of a weight reduction program. The scale doesn't lie. We can lie to ourselves for months, but when we hop on that scale the truth comes out. We have to be like that scale with ourselves. When we blow it on our part, we have to own up, push off the guilt and start fresh tomorrow. Pretty soon we will get used to being honest with ourselves and be able to string days together where we don't have to lie to ourselves because we are sticking with it...honestly.

5 - One day does not an entire goal make. Many times as we start to change something on ourselves, we get all excited up front and ride that wave for a few days and then WHAM! We get blindsided by a setback. In wellness it is definitely that way. We want to lose weight and we do so well for weeks and then our birthday comes or whatever and we eat like we want and see ourselves heading back in the wrong direction. The same could be said of that one cigarette or that 2nd beer. Don't beat yourself up. Tomorrow is a new day and you can get right back on track. This is where the accountability and honesty come into play quite a bit.

6 - It's not about wellness for the now. When you start a wellness program you are determining that these changes you are about to make are not just for now and today's goals. You are looking at a much farther reaching process of a lifestyle change based on good and solid decisions for yourself. Remember, achieving the goals along the way are not the end result and reward. It's a life that has been changed for the better and for years to come.

So, while wellness programs in businesses may help a company show that they have healthier employees and insurance companies should consider that before they increase their premiums, the ultimate goal should be healthy employees...period. A bottom line means nothing if your crew is filled with people having heart attacks, being overweight, and living shorter lives. Employers can give their people much more than a paycheck. With a solid wellness program that is alive and active and properly administered, the employer provides something that can last a lifetime whether those people work for you or not.

For those who feel they can just plop a wellness program in front of people and expect them to be excited enough about it to be a part of it, think again. It's up to each person to have a say and have the desire to do it. No one can be made to change. However, let someone decide to change and then give them some tools to help them one can stop them.

Do you have some ideas for wellness in your life or your place of business? Contact me. I'd love to hear them and even work on them with you.

The video I picked is "Break My Stride" set to some great "moving" movie scenes. Enjoy.