For financial rep, life insurance started in a concrete way

| September 22, 2016 | 0 Comments
Peter Ryan

Peter Ryan

Catholic United Financial agent Peter Ryan understood the receiving end of life insurance long before he ever had to make a sales pitch.

He lived through it twice.

At age 16, Ryan’s father died of cancer. The elder Ryan left behind five children. The children then were orphaned, as their mother had left nine years earlier.

“That will always stick with me,” Peter Ryan said. “Sixteen years old when [my] dad dies, and I’m looking for an apartment.”

It helped that his father left behind a $50,000 life insurance policy through his work at 3M. The younger Ryan could put away his portion to save, which lasted four years once he used it.

“That 10 grand was huge,” Ryan said. “I actually put it in a [certificate of deposit] in the bank, and then after one year, I started milking on it because I needed it.”

Ryan came to see the need for life insurance again in 1992 when his older brother, George, died at 33. George Ryan left a $50,000 policy he had through Catholic United Financial thanks to a childhood friend, now regional manager Patrick Brown, who sold it to him.

Peter Ryan took care of his brother’s estate and saw how quickly that life insurance money evaporated. His brother had a funeral, a mortgage and credit card debt.

“I probably ended up putting out $5,000 to $6,000 just to finish things off,” Ryan said.

He said that if his brother had left behind a wife and children, the financial challenges would have been stauncher.

The deaths of Ryan’s brother and father impacts his approach as a sales representative with Catholic United Financial when it comes to life insurance.

“It’s maintaining the lifestyle that you think you could have,” Ryan said.

Ryan didn’t have a typical 16-year-old lifestyle after losing his father and not having grandparents or extended family to turn to. Days consisted of high school, but evenings meant full-time work at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange from 3:30 p.m. until 11:30 p.m.

He lived with one of his brothers in an apartment and went to work after graduation. He couldn’t go to college because of finances.

It gave Ryan a first-hand lesson of the limitations of term life insurance from an employer versus permanent insurance, which people can purchase, too. Following his brother’s death, he also learned the importance of a will and trust.

“It’s so important for people to plan,” Ryan said.

Ryan began his career with Catholic United Financial in 2002 after many years working as a warehouse manager for a wholesaler. He has excelled with Catholic United Financial ever since.

In 14 years, he has won the President’s Club award 11 times, which goes to CUF sales reps who volunteer, hit sales goals and meet goals for signing up new members. He became the first CUF rep to win the International Fraternal Insurance Counselor of the Year award in May at the National Association of Fraternal Field Managers Association convention.

Ryan enjoys the opportunity to support Catholic institutions through his work with CUF. He also serves on the Catholic United Credit Union board of directors.

Ryan, who resides in Watertown, also practices what he tells his clients. He and his wife, Jean, parishioners of St. Maximilian Kolbe in Delano, no longer have any living parents. Because the Ryans have two daughters, they took their family situation into account when preparing their own finances; if a tragedy should happen, their daughters will receive an ample amount of financial help.

“You have to plan for today, so if something happened to you today, right now, would your wishes come true?,” Ryan said.

He doesn’t have a pessimistic view waiting for the next shoe to drop, though. Tragedy in his own life hasn’t slowed him down, either.

“I’m not one of these [people] on Dr. Phil [who thinks], ‘Oh, poor me,’” Ryan said. “I’ve just always lived my life. Every day’s a victory.”

Ryan hopes to give his clients a chance for a victory in case of an unexpected death in the family. He emphasizes that people need to think several years out and not just what a basic employer policy contributes.

“I’ve never delivered a life insurance check, and someone said, ‘Oh, that’s just way too much,’” he said.

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