Matthew S

Why is insurance important to me?  That is an interesting question that I probably would not have been able to answer before January, 2014.  Like most teen aged boys, I didn’t pay much attention to such matters prior to a traumatic family event.

My Granddaddy passed away from complications related to pneumonia at home in Tulsa, OK on January 28, 2014.  He was 80 years old but his passing was still somewhat unexpected.  He was a strong and active man prior to falling ill the previous November and he just never recovered.

Nana was unprepared and for several days after his passing it looked like my parents would be responsible the burial expenses.  They had no savings.  It initially appeared that no life insurance had been left behind.  Granddaddy always acted as if he were bullet proof.  Why make such uncomfortable plans?  My parents have little saved themselves so these expenses may have been pulled out of my college savings.  Family does what is necessary in times of need.

Fortunately for my Nana, Granddaddy had made some plans, although it took several days before the documents were found.  He did not have as much life insurance as he probably should have had but he had enough for my Nana to provide him with the dignified service and final resting place that she needed as much as anyone.  As you can imagine, she was distraught.

Granddaddy was a retired US Air force pilot and Vietnam veteran.  It was always his desire to be buried at the National Cemetery in Arlington, VA but he had not done the necessary preparations to ensure that honor.  Granddaddy always had big ideas but his follow through often suffered.

Through the life insurance funds she had available, she was able to provide he and his family with a very suitable alternative.  His final resting place is now in the Veteran’s Park at the Floral Haven Cemetery in Broken Arrow, OK.  Each Memorial Day there is a service conducted at the Floral Haven Funeral Home in honor of the veterans buried on the property.  This service happens to be the largest such ceremony conducted in this part of the country.  The service is also televised by a local Tulsa television station.

There were less expensive alternatives but none seemed appropriate.  Floral Haven is where my Nana wanted him laid to rest.  Doing so would not have been possible without what little life insurance that Granddaddy had purchased years beforehand.

Another incident that helped me appreciate the value of insurance occurred in May, 2016.  Unfortunately, I was involved in a small mishap in the parking lot of a local soccer complex.  I was the driver.  The collision was entirely my fault.

As if being responsible for a collision wasn’t bad enough, I was driving the family van.  I have three younger siblings so we travel all over the city in that van.  Despite its appearance and over 160,000 miles on the odometer, it is a really valuable asset to our family.

I was backing out of a parking spot but my siblings were distracting me at the time.  It was after dark but the parking lot is well lighted.  I simply failed to follow what my father had taught me from the first day of driving lessons.

RULE #1:  “Assume everyone else is an idiot.”

RULE #2:  “Give the other guy plenty of room to do something stupid.”

These two rules simply mean that I should constantly scan my environment and yield plenty of space to the other drivers just in case they do not see me approaching.

RULE #3:  “Parking lots are dangerous.”

I think that one speaks for itself.

RULE #4:  “Use your mirrors but never trust them.”

This one simply means that I need to include my mirrors as I scan my environment but I should never change directions or lanes without first double checking with a glance over my shoulder.  This is probably where I dropped the ball.

I backed into a parked car because I permitted my siblings to frustrate and distract me, causing me to forget Dad’s first four rules of driving.  Thankfully the damage was relatively minor and no one was injured.

After the collision, the owner had only one question, “Do you have insurance?”  Fortunately, my parents do have auto insurance and I am listed on the policy.

The repairs amounted to over $4,000, despite only minor damage to each vehicle.

Mom and Dad do their best to provide for all of us but $4,000 is not easy to produce without the benefit of insurance.  Without auto insurance, my parents may have been forced to dip into my college savings to make the repairs.

Through these experiences I have come to respect the need for insurance of my own as I transition into adulthood over the next few years.

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