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The business of caring: Stephanie Walter and Patti Larsen, CLU

As published on the LIFE Foundation Web site.

Linda Benders and Jeanne Rizzotto had recently purchased a realty company in a small town in Montana. Linda was a wife and mother of four who also cared for her elderly mother-in-law. Jeanne was a single parent, raising two sons.

Linda and Jeanne’s busy lifestyles and growing business commitments led them to consider purchasing life insurance through their business. They met with New York Life agents Stephanie Walter and Patti Larsen, CLU, to have their insurance needs analyzed. Acting on their agents’ recommendations, the businesswomen purchased life insurance to fund “buy-sell agreements” that would protect their business interests should something happen to either one of them.

As time went by, their business took off. They moved into a much larger office space and added staff. In February 1997, Linda and Jeanne met with their agents for an annual review of their financial situation. Linda and Jeanne had become concerned about investing for retirement. Their agents, however, felt that the two women were now underinsured due to their increased financial commitments. They strongly encouraged Linda and Jeanne to purchase more life insurance first and to invest the remainder of their available monthly earnings in IRAs.

After several weeks and considerable deliberations with their agents, Linda and Jeanne agreed to their recommendations.

Days later, on March 15, 1997, Linda and one of her daughters were involved in a tragic car accident on an icy road. Linda was killed. Jeanne called her agent Patti at 6:00 a.m. the next morning to tell her about the accident, “I’m scared. I just need to know if Linda’s family will be all right and if I’m going to be all right,” she said.

Because of the insurance, Linda’s husband is able to care for their 3-year-old daughter and elderly mother, and their other three children can stay in college.

“For months, Patti and Stephanie implored us to get the right type of insurance to protect our business interests. We weren’t exactly an easy sell. We were focused on the realty business and couldn’t be bothered dealing with insurance,” said Jeanne, “We could have lost it all. Because of the insurance, Linda’s family has security, and I didn’t lose the company.”

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