I knew when we received Zachary's diagnosis we would be in for a lifetime of rejection. Being different, being disabled, being out of the ordinary always carries with it various levels of rejection, whether it be through friends, family, schools, sports, buildings or companies.
Zachary recently received his first rejection. Of course, the letter came to me, and Zachary, thank God, is still too young to have to explain anything about it.
A previous life insurance policy on myself lapsed and so I applied for a new line through the company I have other insurance products through - State Farm. I've been with my agent for six years and when I approached her about it, she came over and we went through the paperwork. One of the things I wasn't even aware of was having a child as a "rider" on the policy. Simple enough, the child is just included or attached on the parent's policy and if something happened to the child, they would be covered for $10,000. A relative small amount - enough for funeral costs and what not. A simple child rider...sure, I said, and we went further through the paperwork.
A couple of weeks later, I received this letter in the mail.
I read it a couple of times when I first received it, kind of dazed at the pettiness of it. I was willing to pay a pretty decent premium on my policy with Zachary as a rider, and they rejected him based on his cerebral palsy. It was a simple, lowly $10,000 of coverage. Their candor was admired though - they definitely did not dance around the subject or use another excuse. It was straight and honest.
What to do next? Do I go through and remove Zachary as a rider and continue with my policy?
One of the other decisions I made after receiving his diagnosis was the promise to not be friends with, associate with or do business with anyone who would reject Zachary based simply on his disability. So I let the rubber meet the road.
I called up my agent and explained clearly to her I would not be following through with the policy. She had not known about Zachary's rejection, so I explained it, read the letter on the phone, and simply stated my above family promise. As a logical person, I explained to her I did not take this personally and understood completely that it is just a very large corporation with a set of stated guidelines on who and who not to give insurance to - detailed facts be damned.
I further explained to our agent the fact that Zachary is healthy, has the potential to live a normal lifespan, is cognitively great (according to us, family and all therapists) and is at no risk of suddenly dying from his cerebral palsy. While I was disappointed by the result from State Farm's robotic analysis, I understood the big corporation approach. So I ended the call by stating as of now (though Obama's plans are to the contrary, but I digress...), it is still a free country with free market choices and I would be in the market looking for a new insurance company who would accept Zachary for coverage and would subsequently move all my insurance products over to that company.
She didn't know what to say, apologized, and that was the end.
Now begins the search for the new company.
Farmers was the first option and things seemed to be going well with them. Farmers honestly stated they would reject Zachary, too, on a life insurance rider, but they have a policy which allows for an internal broker to find a company that will say "yes" if Farmers says "no". They were able to find an outside company, Protective Life, which has an A-rating and will accept any child as a rider, no questions asked, up to $20,000. Protective Life would also allow the child, once 25 years of age, to take on the policy individually and multiply the coverage up to five times. However, Farmers was unable to effectively match or beat the rates of my other policies, so the search continues. Though I will keep Protective Life in mind.
While talking with the Farmers broker, I probed the "extreme future" question, to gage what life will be like for Zachary. I told her I'm a conservative, I'm going to raise him to be independent and take care of himself and I believe he will be cognitively fine. Yes, he will have some physical disabilities, but I have no doubt he can grow up, get married and have a family of his own and be the provider for the family. Once having the family of his own, would he be able to get life insurance for himself? Her answer - NO.
So this is just a peak into the further struggles Zachary will face in the real world when he goes off as an adult. He won't even be able to get a life insurance policy to cover his family. The rejection continues.
Rather than see the at the way the cards are stacked against him and us, I'll be taking a proactive approach. This has spurred me to be much better with my finances; to be goal-oriented on paying off all our debt as quickly as possible; to work hard to establish a bright future for him; to assist him in overcoming the rejections of the world and to find solutions through the problems.
This is just the first of many rejections to come. Luckily, this one did not have much emotional value attached to it. Oh do I dread the day(s) when the more emotional rejections will come - the name calling, the dismissal of value, the loneliness, the ignorant, the plain and downright mean and evil.
No, this is just the first. And while it's only silly insurance, it still hurts for the reminder of things to come.