Real Life Stories

Life Happens Honors Insurance Agents for Exemplary Client Service

2015 Real Life Stories Showcase Invaluable Contributions
of Insurance Professionals in Protecting Families

Arlington, Va. – June 23, 2015 – Insurance nonprofit organization Life Happens today announced the winners of its annual Real Life Stories Client Recognition Program, which celebrates insurance agents and advisors for their outstanding professional and personal commitments to supporting clients and their families in times of need.

Currently in its 20th year, the program reinforces Life Happens’ core mission of raising public awareness of the importance of insurance coverage as part of a sound financial plan. This year, the program showcases the stories of agents who have gone above and beyond to ensure their clients and their loved ones were financially prepared for the future in the wake of a disabling accident or unexpected family death.

“It’s impossible to know what the future will bring, but having adequate insurance protection is one way people can guarantee they’ll be prepared when the unexpected happens,” said Marvin H. Feldman, CLU, ChFC, RFC, President and CEO of Life Happens. “Too many Americans underestimate the importance of life, disability and long-term care insurance when it comes to protecting the financial well-being of their families, which is why it is so important to seek the guidance of an insurance advisor. The agents we are honoring in this year’s Real Life Stories program are a testament to the invaluable role professional financial assistance is in ensuring you have the right policy and amount in place to meet your family’s needs and ensure your loved ones are always protected.”

The 2015 Life Happens Real Life Stories award recipients are:

  • Lars Hansen, LUTCF, American National, Mesa, Ariz.
    For Jason and Nicole Sherman, providing for their two daughters was at the heart of everything they did. Working with agent Lars Hansen, they both agreed that purchasing adequate life insurance was important to them and a crucial part of protecting their daughters’ financial future. Lars continued meeting with the couple each year to review their needs and make adjustments to their coverage, helping to foster a friendship that went beyond that of a client-advisor relationship. Tragically, in 2005, after witnessing an accident on the freeway and checking to see if anyone was hurt, Nicole was struck by a car, leaving Jason as a single dad, concerned about caring for his young daughters while still working to provide them financial stability. With the proceeds from an individual life insurance policy Lars had helped put in place for Nicole, Jason was given time to grieve and spend time with his daughters, without having to worry about his family’s financial stability. To see more, watch the video at
  • James Jacobs, CLU, ChFC, AXA, Chesterfield, Va.
    At the age of 27, Michael Sizemore was living his dream – training for his first marathon and starting a job as a lobbyist where he could do what he loved- give back to others. As a new employee, Michael was eligible for his employer’s benefit program, which agent James Jacobs had established for the organization. Although Michael was young and healthy, Michael took full advantage of all the benefits offered through his employer and a number of individual insurance policies, including a disability insurance policy with Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. Just a year later, while on a trip to Washington D.C., Michael was hit by a drunk driver, leaving him in a medically induced coma with more than $2 million in medical expenses. The group health insurance paid his hospital medical expenses and through the individual disability insurance coverage James helped Michael put in place, he has enough income to continue living his life and pay for his physical therapy, despite being unable to work. To see more, watch the video at
  • Juli McNeely, LUTCF, CFP, CLU, McNeely Financial Services, Inc., Spencer, Wis.
    As their family began to grow, Sam and Amy McNeely knew they needed more life insurance coverage than what was provided through Sam’s employer. To ensure their infant daughter, Charli, would be protected if anything happened to them, they turned to agent Juli McNeely for help taking out a policy that would provide adequate coverage in the event of their deaths. When Sam fell ill and suddenly died at the age of 38 from a dissected aorta, Juli reminded Amy of the life insurance policies with Mutual Trust Financial Group, Auto-Owners Life Insurance Company and EMC National Life she and Sam had purchased prior to Charli’s birth. Juli couldn’t take away the emotional pain of losing Sam, but she knew his insurance policy would help them financially. Sam’s life insurance policy through his work and the policies Juli helped the family set up, has allowed Amy and Charli to live their lives without financial hardship. To see more, watch the video at
  • Craig Wiklund, CLU, ChFC, Wilklund & Bond Financial Services, Auburn Hills, Mich.
    Craig helped advise his close friend and small business owner client, John Gongos, to purchase insurance to ensure both his family and his research company were taken care of if anything were to happen to him. Craig helped John develop a succession plan for his company and purchase life insurance policies with Voya Financial and AXA that would fund that agreement and protect the employees he considered family. Tragically, at the age of 51, John was diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma. Just two weeks after his diagnosis, John passed away, leaving his wife, kids, and devoted employees in shock. Thanks to John’s insurance policies, he was able to not only take care of his family, allowing his wife Anne and their three children to stay in their house, he was also able to take care of his employees and keep his business running. To see more, watch the video at
Too many Americans underestimate the importance of life, disability and long-term care insurance when it comes to protecting the financial well-being of their families

This year’s four Real Life Stories honorees, along with their clients, will be formally recognized at the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) annual conference in New Orleans later this fall. A presentation ceremony will take place on Sunday, October 4, 2015.

Starting June 23, the 2015 Real Life Stories will be available to insurance agents and advisors, along with new Life Insurance Awareness Month marketing resources, via the new Life Happens Pro website at Engaging videos, flyers and brochures featuring the success stories can be powerful educational tools for insurance professionals to use with their clients. Agents and advisors who subscribe to Life Happens Pro have the ability to personalize these materials with their contact information and company branding and can download or embed the content directly to use on their agency websites. Life Happens Pro is currently available for a 30-day free trial period and subscriptions of $39 per month or $399 per year. Insurance professionals affiliated with Life Happens member associations, such as NAIFA, MDRT, NAILBA, AALU, GAMA and others, can qualify for substantial discounts.

For more information, visit Life Happens will also begin accepting applications for its 2016 Real Life Stories Client Recognition Program now through December 7, 2015. Licensed insurance professionals and their teams are encouraged to visit to submit their best client success story or to learn more about the Real Life Stories program.



About Life Happens
Life Happens is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping consumers take personal financial responsibility through the ownership of life insurance and related products. The organization does not endorse any product, company or insurance advisor. Since its inception in 1994, Life Happens has provided the highest quality, independent and objective information for people seeking help with their insurance buying decisions. The organization supports the insurance industry by providing marketing tools and resources and convening the industry each September for Life Insurance Awareness Month. Life Happens is supported by more than 140 of the nation’s leading insurance company and financial services organizations. To learn more, visit