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For Assuri­ty sales man­ag­er, heart attack changes plans and perspective

Critical Illness coverage keeps finances on track when Jeff McClendon's life took an unexpected turn

By Rebecca Svec, Content Writer


Assurity Senior Sales Manager Jeff McClendon

In November of 2022, Jeff McClendon was counting the days toward a planned ski trip with his son.

They had talked about it since his son graduated college. Now they were booked for a stretch on the slopes by Breckenridge, Colorado, the week before Christmas.

“I was looking forward to ending the year on a high note,” Jeff said.

Life had different plans ahead, though. An out-of-the-blue heart attack would cancel their trip and end Jeff’s year on a reflective and thankful note – both thankful that he survived and that he purchased the Critical Illness Insurance he promotes in his role as Assurity Senior Sales Manager for Individual Sales.

His Critical Illness Insurance policy made it possible to take the financial aftermath of an unexpected heart attack in stride, allowing him to focus on recovery and rehabilitation. In all, his medical bills were more than $100,000. The bills could have veered his finances off track as quickly as his heart attack appeared on a late fall day. “It changed my life and opened my eyes,” Jeff said.

In the days leading up to his heart attack, he was “running and gunning” putting in 15-hour days at a key industry meeting, the annual gathering of the National Association of Independent Life Broker Agencies (NAILBA). When he returned home to Kansas City, he was exhausted, running on adrenalin. But that was standard following a stretch of meetings, networking, and “being on” for days in a row with little sleep.

He’d rest and get back to normal, he thought.

Then a pain began on the right side of his chest.

No cause for alarm. Heartburn. Nothing substantial, he told himself.

As hours passed, the pain worsened. When it moved into his neck and shoulder, it alarmed him enough to go to a local Emergency Department. “It’s one of the very few times in life I’ve listened to my body and sought treatment.”

The diagnosis came as a shock. Jeff arrived in the middle of a heart attack. “The crazy part is that I had no pre-existing conditions; nothing that would lead doctors to believe I would have this at 47. No family history. None of those identifiers that the doctor and I had been following and tracking.”

But it was real. A coronary artery had a 95 percent blockage. Jeff underwent a procedure to open the artery, followed by surgery the next day to insert a stent.

He couldn’t have asked for a better health outcome, he said, returning home in three days with no heart damage. He completed 12 weeks of cardiac rehabilitation combined with a new focus on diet and nutrition.

Along with the health changes came a few more takeaways from the event, including his deep appreciation for Assurity’s Critical Illness coverage. He’d always touted it, but now it was real, reflecting the intangibles voluntary insurance is about: protection, care and peace of mind.

He makes a point to recommend it to clients of all ages. He has noticed a trend in the news cycle the past few years of more young people having major medical events – including heart attacks and strokes.

Financially, he said, “it can destroy young people who don’t have a nest egg built up, even if they have good (health) insurance.” When it comes to out-of-pocket expenses, even $5,000, is a significant financial expense for many, he noted.

He wishes they had the protection of Critical Illness Insurance rather than looking to crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe, with uncertain results. “Critical Illness costs roughly the same as a monthly cell bill and it can provide so much in a time of need.”

“I think we have a unique product, a little different than many of the other CI products out there because it has 11 individual health triggers that each pay out. It's a permanent product, intended to be there for the life of the insured.”

As soon as possible after his heart attack, Jeff filed his claim on his own policy. There was something healing about the act itself, he reflects. “I think that really helped me in my recovery. I knew I didn’t have to worry financially. I knew I could pay the bills, which meant a lot as heart attacks and stress don’t go hand-in-hand very well.”

It took away the worry when bills appeared in his mailbox and inbox for months after his surgery. “I found I was getting bills from doctors and places I’d never heard from… the trail of charges continued long after my surgery.”

Even now more than a year later, related costs come up as preventive care. He recently received a voicemail from his cardiologist office letting him know his quarterly check-up would cost $138.74 out-of-pocket.

He still recalls how good it felt to get the lump-sum check from Assurity as he recovered, something good taking the place of his health scare. “It prevented me from spending a single penny for my heart attack. I even had enough left over to take my son on a fishing trip."

Get Critical Illness Insurance Today
It (Crit­i­cal Ill­ness Insur­ance pol­i­cy) pre­vent­ed me from spend­ing a sin­gle pen­ny for my heart attack. I even had enough left over to take my son on a fish­ing trip.”

Jeff McClendon Assurity Policyholder and Senior Sales Manager