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It was in the second half of 2013 and I was, like so many others, busy.

As an executive for a large multinational, work demanded more and more of my life, our three kids were growing into more activities which demanded more support not to mention more parental taxi services and as a family we were spending any spare time developing a small model beef fattening farm and farm stay in the beautiful Matakana region. Life was indeed busy and focused but it was rewarding and I was healthy and relished the time I got to spend outdoors. I always had.Darrin on Holiday Oct 2013 200px

Out of the blue, a letter arrived from my doctor. Apparently, I had not seen him for some time and as he was my registered Primary Health Organisation if I did not “check in” then they would be forced to take me off their books. The cynic in me said this was all about Government fee subsidies after all if I am sick I go to the doctor and simply put, I had not been sick. I hadn’t had a day off work for as long as I could remember and the last time I had visited the doctor was for a tetanus shot after I put a 6 inch nail through my foot some 3 or 4 years earlier.

My wife is a sound voice of reason and her advice proved invaluable in ways we could not have imagined at the time. With simple logic, she told me that our family doctor was very good and therefore highly sought after and if I did not go and see him I would be removed from his register and I would probably struggle to be a patient of his ever again! Fair enough, so I made an appointment for late one Friday afternoon, left work early and off I went.

It was the day I discovered I was suffering a medical trauma and I didn’t even know it.

After some small talk and family updates, the doctor asked me how I was feeling. Obviously fine or I would have been to see you I responded! He mumbled about needing to update some information on the medical practice CRM and then suggested that it is probably time for a bit of a general check-up anyway especially as I was in my mid-40s. Everything was brilliant; chest clear, blood pressure better than normal, hearing good and so it went on. But hang on what about those moles on your back the doctor enquires. I didn’t know anything about them.

After a quick referral to a Dermatologist, two minor ops, about 20 stitches, 3 days off work to let the wound “knit” and about $2000 in medical expenses I was presented with the good news. “We think we have got it early enough and it’s a good job you got here when you did because another 2 months and we estimate your chances of surviving the next 10 years at between 20 and 30%”….so if that was the good news, what’s the bad news I say. “Well, obviously you have malignant melanoma and your now on six monthly check-ups for at least the next two years as statistically, you have a 50% greater chance than anyone else of having another one appear….

I was shocked. This was crazy. I didn’t even feel sick and now they were talking about survival chances and statistics that seemed like they were meant for someone else!

There were people who were more shocked than me though. My family. They depended on me and this was very real to them. Time stood still for a couple of days and we talked about a lot of stuff.

The practical person in me got back into the driving seat and we began to process. Firstly the medical insurance claim to cover the cost of the ops, then the cancer trauma claim. The insurers were fantastic. Lifestyle was evaluated and work was a big part of that. I took a different direction and after six months off with the family traveling to parts of NZ and Australia I began to work again for myself and on my terms. Family have moved to the front seat again and despite my high drive to work, we rebalanced.

Insurance was something I knew and had bought most of my adult life. But insurance is now something I understand. Not in a dollars and cents way like before but in the freedom and space it created to make different decisions for myself and my family. You don’t get many second chances so to be able to run with the second chance I got because of the insurance I had is something I will never underestimate the value of.

If Insurance is something you think you know like I did, don’t miss the opportunity re-evaluate the choices it can provide you and your family. Then, like me, you will begin to understand its true value.

– A personal account by Darrin Franks
Darrin Franks works as a Management & Strategy Consultant with Global Financial Services Ltd and is an independent Board Member of the Professional Advisers Association.

Until 2013, Darrin was heading distribution and marketing at AIA Insurance – the life insurance market leaders in Asia Pacific region. Darrin has been working as a management consultant at his company Conetworkz Management Solutions. He is a well-known leader of the NZ insurance industry with more than 20 years of experience including with companies such as Asteron and Sovereign.