The Hunt - A Short Story
B. Keith Boeneke
This story was written at the request of Dr. Larry Crumbley for the course Accounting 7310. It may be edited and published by Dr. Crumbley at his discretion.
for the Truth
was 3:00 Friday afternoon. Tim had
his truck loaded and full of gas. He
was ready to head out to the hunting camp.
This was the first weekend of the bow and arrow only deer season in south
Louisiana. Although Tim would spend
many more weekends over the next couple of months in the woods, opening weekend
is always the most exciting and most anticipated weekend of the season. Tim's dad exposed him to hunting when he was just six years
old and over the last twenty years Tim has been an avid outdoorsman.
possibly a bigger challenge than bagging a trophy buck is convincing Tim's boss
that he needs to leave a little early to make it to the camp before dark.
Tim does not have to fight this battle alone.
He has the help of his long-time friend, hunting buddy, and co-worker
Wade. Tim and Wade are successful
and by 3:30 they are walking out the door.
Wade stops Tim just before he puts his keys in the truck ignition and
asks Tim if he called his wife, Valerie. "It
has been nine months since last season and with all the excitement I completely
forgot!" says Tim, "Let me run in and call before we hit the
road." Wade understood as he
had made the same mistake when his wife was pregnant with their first child - a
mistake that undoubtedly cost him a couple of weekends in the woods.
who is six months pregnant with her and Tim's first child, was happy to hear
from her husband since she would not see him again till Sunday. During their conversation, Valerie asked Tim if he had
remembered to drop off the home insurance payment which was due today.
Once again, Tim provided the same response, "It has been nine months
" He agreed he would deliver the payment on the way out of town, told
her he loved her, and told her good-bye. Tim
and Wade finally arrived at the camp by 7:00 in the evening.
After eating a big dinner and participating in good conversation around
the campfire, it was time to hit the sack since the alarm was set for well
alarm sounded as if an ambulance was driving through the bedroom at 5:00 am. Tim rolled out of bed, woke up Wade, and got dressed.
After a cup of coffee and a doughnut, Tim was ready to make his
flashlight-lit journey to his deer stand. Since
Tim and Wade hunted in the same general area, they gathered their equipment and
left the camp together. As they
made their way up and down the hilly dirt trails, they came to the fork in the
trail where they would part ways. Before
heading in different directions, they agreed to meet at this same spot at 9:30
eased his way through the woods to his stand location as if he were a cat
sneaking up on its prey. When he
reached his stand, he tied his bow to the tow rope hanging from the stand,
climbed approximately twenty feet, and entered his stand.
He quietly pulled his bow up and took a seat.
There was a new moon and Tim could not see his hand in front of his face.
So he sat still and waited for that first bit of daylight to creep in and
light the woods around him. The
lack of light did not seem to deter the activity of certain animals.
Tim could hear leaves crackling and small animals scurrying about on the
forest floor beneath him. Within
thirty minutes the daylight began to filter in and the birds awoke with an
abundance of loud chirps followed by squirrels barking and leaping from limb to
limb. After the initial burst of
life, the activity seemed to calm and a gentle breeze began to blow.
enjoyed hunting for the obvious reasons that include observing wildlife in its
natural environment and the challenge the hunt provides.
But, he also cites one more reason of equal importance - the peace and
quiet. The quiet time by himself
allows Tim to relax and think or maybe even meditate.
With the hustle and bustle of family and work this might even be the
biggest reason for Tim's love of hunting.
Tim sat and waited, he thought about the preceding day's events, especially the
problems that may have been created by his forgetfulness.
Tim then began to think about the insurance payment. He was surprised that he would forget to pay such an
important bill. Although he was not
excited about making insurance payments, he did realize the importance of the
protection insurance provides. Tim
and his wife are both young professionals - Tim an environmental engineer and
Valerie a CPA. They earn a
relatively good income and consider themselves fortunate to be in the financial
position they are in at the ages of twenty-six and twenty-seven, respectively.
They both realize how important it is to protect the assets you have
worked so hard to obtain, such as automobiles, a home, or any other valuable
property. They understand the two
primary reasons for insuring your assets:
are valuable and suffering a loss could be a financial catastrophe
liability purposes to protect themselves from lawsuits which may be more harmful
than the losses themselves.
For these reasons, Tim and Valerie carry ample home
and automobile insurance coverage. They
have no other assets of significant value (boat, coin collection, etc.) and
therefore consider the extent of their asset insurance adequate for their needs.
One area that Tim and Valerie have never fully understood, partly because
they had no real reason, is life and disability insurance.
As Tim's mind begins to mesh thoughts about insurance with thoughts of
his expanding family, he realizes he will need to learn more about life and
disability insurance in order to protect his family and himself.
This thought was heavily reinforced when Tim looked down between his feet
and thought how one bad move could alter his family's lives forever.
slowly and quietly glanced at his watch. It
was 9:15 am. The entire morning
felt like it had slipped by in a matter of thirty minutes.
"Well," Tim thought to himself, "the deer win again!"
He remembered the 9:30 meeting time and initiated his descent to be on
time. As he approached the fork in the trail, he saw no sign of
Wade. He decided to wait until
10:00 before going after his companion. At
10:00 Tim decided, "That's it! Wade got himself a deer!" (with a hint
of jealousy) and took off after Wade to lend a hand in bringing out the animal.
As he approached Wade's stand site, Tim could see no one was present in
the stand. He whistled to Wade to
let him know he was approaching - no response.
A second whistle, again - no response.
Tim considered this very odd and began to worry.
As he got closer to the stand, his eyes scoured the woods for any sign of
his buddy. His heart dropped to his
boots when he discovered Wade's camouflaged body sprawled at the base of the
tree. Tim dropped his equipment and
ran to the side of his fallen friend.
Wade was lifeless and not responsive.
A trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth painted his cheek. Tim jumped up and ran to the camp for help.
As the helicopter airlifted Wade from a clearing in the woods, Tim
dropped his head in sorrow and tried to understand how the perfect weekend could
turn so bad and tragic so quickly.
Tim got back to the camp he had to make the phone call he had been dreading.
He called Wade's wife Patricia to let her know what had happened.
As expected, she reacted in a very emotional way.
Tim tried to calm her. He
told her the paramedics did not feel Wade's injuries were life threatening.
What he did not tell her was that the paramedics said there was a good
chance for paralysis based on the initial observations of the injuries.
Tim provided Patricia with all the relevant information and offered his
family's assistance in whatever way it might be needed.
Patricia was appreciative and said she might call on Tim and Valerie once
she knows more about Wade's condition.
and Valerie had a long discussion that night about the day's events and what
steps they needed to take to protect themselves from such a financial
catastrophe. The more they talked,
the more they realized how bad of a position Wade and his family might be in.
Even if Wade is not paralyzed, he is sure to miss an extended period of
time from work while recovering from his injuries and if the injuries are severe
enough, he might not be able to work ever again.
This would be especially tough on Wade and Patricia because of the fact
that Patricia does not work. When
she and Wade had their first child, they made the decision that Wade would work
and Patricia would stay home to raise children.
Wade and Patricia now have two very young children (five and seven years
old). Based on past conversations
with Wade, Tim felt pretty certain that Wade did not have disability insurance.
The small company that Tim and Wade worked for did not offer this in
their benefit package. During Tim and Valerie's conversation, the phone rang.
Tim answered - it was Patricia. She
was calling, as Tim had asked, to provide an update on Wade's condition.
She said Wade had regained consciousness and the doctor's said there were
no life threatening injuries. Along
with the bumps and bruises, Wade suffered a concussion, two broken ribs, and
partial paralysis in his lower extremities. However, the doctors felt the paralysis may be short-lived
and eliminated with a combination of surgery and physical therapy.
Tim was somewhat relieved to hear the news but was also still very
concerned about his friend's family. He
asked Patricia if she and Wade had any type of disability insurance.
She said they did not but that they did have comprehensive medical
insurance. Patricia asked if Tim
and Valerie would mind keeping the children for a few days.
Tim did not hesitate to say yes and that he would pick them up this
evening. Immediately after hanging
up the phone Tim turned to Valerie and said, "I am calling an insurance
agent tomorrow. We will not let
this happen to us!"
calling around to a few friends, Tim found an agent to call on.
He called AAA Insurance and asked for Mr. Cliff Swindler.
In a matter of thirty seconds, he had an appointment set up for that
afternoon. Tim arrived at the
insurance agent's office on time but was asked to wait in the lobby since Mr.
Swindler was currently meeting with a client.
While he waited, Tim could not help but notice how plush the office was.
It reminded him of a very nice doctor's office.
One wall of the lobby was covered with awards designating Mr. Swindler as
the top sales agent in numerous years. After
a brief wait, Mr. Swindler's secretary called Tim back to Mr. Swindler's office.
Mr. Swindler greeted Tim at the door.
The agent extended his hand to Tim and introduced himself.
Tim did the same and glanced down only to notice the gold Rolex watch on
Mr. Swindler's wrist. Mr. Swindler
was an interesting looking man. His
hair was jet black and slicked back; he had a pencil-thin mustache, a bow tie, a
plaid suit, and wing-tip shoes. After
some small talk to get aquainted, Mr. Swindler asked Tim to have a seat.
As Tim sat aback in the leather chair, he began to explain his situation
to the attentive Mr. Swindler. Tim
explained he knew very little about life and disability insurance but definitely
felt that he and his wife had reached a point in their lives where it was
needed. Mr. Swindler picked up the
ball at that point and ran with it. He
said, "Let's start with disability insurance.
It is fairly simple and straightforward.
coverage should be sufficient enough to provide you with your typical income
until other financial resources are available.
Tim, you must select the amount per month you desire as well as the
duration of payment. I recommend
you insure your total current take home pay until you are eighty-three years old
which is the average life expectancy of a male.
I also encourage you to add a future insurability clause to modify your
coverage as things in your life change and some other add-ons which we can
discuss later when you sign up.
insurance is a little more complex but it does not have to be a tough decision.
There are two general types: term insurance and cash value insurance.
Term insurance is no different than automobile insurance. You pay an annual premium and receive a pre-determined amount
of life insurance protection. Cash
value insurance is the most popular life insurance sold today.
It is also known by various other terms such as whole life, universal
life, and variable life. These cash value policies are super deals since they combine
life insurance with a savings feature. That
way, your premium dollars are not being tossed away. I highly recommend a cash value policy for you Tim, for the
policy is all paid up after a few years. That
way, you won't be paying life insurance premiums for the rest of your life.
certainly won't be able to afford term insurance when you get older.
be able to borrow against the cash value of the policy at a low rate of
value of the policy will grow at a tax-deferred rate.
Before Tim had a chance to respond, Mr. Swindler's secretary rushed in with a stack of forms that had been typed with Tim's name already on them. Mr. Swindler offered a pen and the forms to Tim and said, "You are making a great decision for your family today. God forbid, but if it is ever needed, your family will be protected and will not have to add a heavy financial burden to their worries. Please sign these forms where indicated and your peace of mind begins today." Tim was usually a pretty good judge of character. Something told him this guy was as crooked as the day is long. He declined the offer, thanked Mr. Swindler for his time, and said, "Let me discuss it with my wife."
for the Truth
now had the tools and a basic understanding so that he could do some research on
his own. He was never comfortable
with sales people but felt he needed to start somewhere.
Tim wasted no time. He left
the agents office and drove straight to the bookstore. He perused the selection of books about money.
He was surprised to find the topic of insurance discussed at length in
books that primarily dealt with financial planning.
For some reason, he had never made the connection between the two.
But the more he read, the more he realized how important insurance was to
the whole financial planning process. No
matter how much you plan, how much you save, or how much wealth you accumulate,
if you do not protect it from the unexpected, via insurance, you could find
yourself one day with nothing to show for your efforts.
Tim selected two or three of the more informative books and made his
purchase. He left the bookstore and
headed to the hospital to check on Wade. Wade
was awake and alert when Tim arrived. Wade
said he was feeling better and was eager to get the surgery over with so he
could begin physical therapy. Wade
was determined to walk again. He realized how much his family depended on him.
The surgery was scheduled for sometime during the next week.
Tim told Wade not to worry; his children were fine and that Valerie and
himself were prepared to keep the children as long as needed.
Wade was very thankful but this made him even more determined to get back
on his feet.
Tim began sifting and reading through all this new information he had
gathered. The more he read, the
angrier he became with Mr. Swindler. His
instincts were exactly right. Mr.
Swindler was not at all concerned about Tim or his family.
He was simply focused on the size of his commission.
Tim was able to find arguments against just about every claim Mr.
Swindler made. First of all, the
extent of your disability insurance is determined by answering the question: How
much income do you need to replace until future financial resources are
available? From the information in
the books, Tim gathered that if he was married and his family could survive on
his wife's income (assuming she works), then disability coverage may not be
needed at all or at an amount significantly less than Tim's current income.
Also the duration of coverage is not typically going to be needed until
death because between the ages of fifty-five and sixty-five most people retire
and no longer have an income. This
could potentially knock as much as twenty-five years off the coverage Mr.
Swindler was trying to sell. Also
the future insurability clause and add-ons that Mr. Swindler proposed were
encouraged so that he could increase the value of his commission.
The books suggest that these features either are not worth their price or
insure small items and are high profit items for insurance companies.
As if that wasn't enough, Tim read on about life insurance.
He could not believe what he was reading.
The books recommended someone in his position buy term life insurance and
totally avoid cash value policies. The
literature stated that cash value policies are aggressively pushed by insurance
salespeople because of the high commissions that insurance companies pay them.
It cited typical commissions ranging from fifty percent to one hundred
percent of the first year's premium. Therefore,
the salesperson can make ten times the commission by selling cash value instead
of term policies. The books went on
to say that due to the high costs of cash value policies, you are likely to
purchase less coverage than you need. They
recommended purchasing low cost term insurance and doing your retirement
investing separately. Interestingly
enough, the book listed five sales pitches you might hear followed by an
explanation of the whole story behind each one.
Tim was not surprised to see the list matched Mr. Swindler's reasons for
purchasing the cash value policy exactly:
that the policy will be all paid up after a certain number of years is true but
not for a good reason. The reason
you can stop paying premiums is that you have poured too much extra money into
the policy in the early years of payment. Only by overcharging today can the insurer continue your
coverage in later years without a premium payment.
that term insurance will be unaffordable when you are older or retired is not
exactly true. It is true that term
insurance becomes more expensive as you age, but that is because your
probability of dying increases. You
should remember two things:
not need term insurance all your life. You
purchase it when your obligations outweigh your financial assets.
When the reverse is true, you probably won't need life insurance.
value policies cost about eight times more than comparable term policies.
Therefore, it usually takes twenty to thirty years for the premium
payments of a term policy to equal the premium payments someone has been paying
all along on a comparable cash value policy purchased today.
that you can borrow against the cash value at a low rate of interest is true,
but you must remember it is your money you are borrowing.
If you borrow against it, you increase the chances of the policy
exploding - leaving you with nothing to show and all the premiums to pay.
that cash value grows at a tax-deferred rate is once again true, but you would
be better off taking advantage of tax-deferred retirement savings plans such as
401(k)s, 403(b)s, SEP-IRAs, and Keoghs. These plans give you an immediate tax deduction for your
current contributions in addition to growth without taxation until withdrawal.
Besides, life insurance investments usually provide mediocre returns and
the interest rate quoted is for the first year only.
Interest rates for subsequent years are set at the discretion of the
that it is forced savings is also true, but there are many better and less
expensive forms of forced savings. The
retirement plans mentioned earlier can usually be set up so that contributions
are deducted right out of your paycheck without a commission.
The books also recommended buying policies directly
from the insurance companies as a cost saving measure.
This will require some searching since all companies do not yet offer
policies direct. The books also
recommended shopping around and comparing prices.
This strategy is very similar to buying no-load mutual funds directly
from the investment company. You
will be essentially buying no-load insurance and cutting the insurance agent and
the commission out of the deal.
Now, feeling as if he had some objective information, Tim was able to sit down with Valerie and analyze their needs. They figured the amounts of disability and life insurance coverage they needed, called a few of the insurance companies listed in the literature Tim had studied, and obtained several quotes. The rest was easy. They selected the company with the best price and best reputation and bought themselves the policies they needed. Tim now had his peace of mind - at least with regards to his family.
Now that Tim's mind was free of worrying about obtaining the appropriate
insurance coverage, he was able to start concentrating on Wade's accident.
Why did it happen? Wade was an experienced hunter.
He was extremely safety conscious and even wore his safety belt while
sitting in his deer stand. Tim had
some brief discussions with Wade about the accident. Due to the concussion suffered by Wade, his memory was not
very good. He remembered virtually
nothing about the entire morning of the hunt.
Tim traveled back to the spot where the accident had happened. The scene
was just as it was left the day of the accident, approximately one week ago.
The climbing stand was still attached to the tree roughly fifteen feet
from the ground surface. Tim knew
Wade preferred climbing as high as possible, sometimes reaching heights of
thirty feet or more, with the hopes that his scent would be lifted out of reach
of the keen sense of smell of the elusive whitetail.
Based on this observation, Wade was either climbing up or down the tree
at the time of the accident. This
would explain why Wade was not wearing his safety belt.
As Tim gazed up at the tree, he re-enacted the fall in his mind over and
over trying to determine a cause.
Tim brought a pair of climbing spurs and a safety belt so that he could
climb the tree and retrieve the stand. The
tree stand was an expensive model, which Wade had saved months for.
The manufacturer advertised high quality and superior workmanship over
competing stands. It also touted
itself as being the largest seller of hunting stands in North America.
As Tim approached the stand and reached to unlock it from the tree, he
noticed something was not right. The
teeth that dig into the tree as you climb and provide the grip necessary to hold
the stand in place were missing. They
are welded in place and it appeared the weld had broken.
Tim could not believe his eyes. He
had just solved the mystery that was plaguing his mind.
He began to remove the stand anyway but caught himself just before
pulling that pin that would release the stand from the tree.
He began to think of the legal implications.
He may have just stumbled onto Wade and Patricia's disability funding.
Tim raced back to the hospital with his news.
Upon arriving, he ran into Patricia.
He contained himself long enough to inquire about Wade's condition.
Patricia said that Wade had just come out of surgery about one hour ago.
The doctors said he is doing fine and the chances that he will be walking
again within a year are very good. That
was as far as she could get before Tim almost exploded.
He began talking so fast that Patricia had to ask him to slow down so
that she could understand. Tim took
a deep breath and started over. He
explained what he saw in the woods and that she should seriously consider
contacting a lawyer. He explained
that if the stand was defective, and the defect caused the accident, she and
Wade should be entitled to some type of compensation. Tim's explanation made plenty of sense to Patricia.
The next day Patricia contacted a lawyer who specialized in consumer
product lawsuits. Mr. L.E.
Sledgehammer was very well known and had a reputation for negotiating large
settlements on behalf of his clients. Patricia
explained her situation to Mr. Sledgehammer.
After hearing the details of the case, Mr. Sledgehammer smiled from ear
to ear and said, "I'll be happy to take the case!"
The next six months were filled with ups and downs. Wade was making more and more progress with each passing day. In fact, the doctors and therapists considered his progress to be ahead of schedule. Wade was beginning to stand and had re-gained almost all of the feeling in his legs. Tim and Valerie gave birth to a very healthy baby boy. Financially, Wade and Patricia were struggling. Patricia started cleaning homes on a full time basis to provide some income for the family. Childcare was essentially free thanks to Tim and Valerie. Between the church, friends, and family there always seemed to be food on the table. They were surviving. Mr. Sledgehammer was negotiating with the tree stand company and felt he was making good progress. In fact, he had discovered what he liked to refer to as "the smoking gun". A recall notice had been issued just days after the accident. The notice addressed the defective teeth on the stand. Mr. Sledgehammer had not yet confronted the stand company with this evidence but he was certain they were aware of it and believed that once he brought the issue up, it would be the knock out punch his clients needed to provoke a settlement offer.
more months passed. Patricia was
helping Wade out of a wheelchair at the hospital entrance and into their car.
When suddenly, Mr. Sledgehammer's four door white Mercedes-Benz came
screeching to a halt at the hospital's entrance.
Mr. Sledgehammer jumped out and yelled, "Congratulations!
The tree stand company has proposed a settlement!"
As he explained the details, he indicated the settlement totaled
$750,000. Patricia almost fainted.
Wade had to now help her to sit down. Wade, Patricia, and Mr.
Sledgehammer had discussed an acceptable settlement amount and this far exceeded
what was deemed acceptable.
Patricia gave up the house cleaning business and returned to what she
loved most - raising her family. Wade
returned to work and joined Tim in working with ownership to develop a more
protective benefits package. It did
not require much convincing. Wade
was thankfully walking proof of how badly families must incorporate the
appropriate insurance coverage into their financial planning.
It was 3:00 Friday afternoon and it had been approximately one year since the hunt. Tomorrow was the opening weekend of deer season in south Louisiana. The bills were paid and the wives had been called. There was no question where Tim and Wade would be spending their weekend.
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