Will You & Your Family Be Protected? – Chief Ed Mann

Important Questions to Ensure You and Your Family Are Protected if Something Happens to You

As a firefighter, the possibility of getting injured or even dying on the job may be something you would rather not think about. Others may be of the belief that “it won’t happen to me!” But for the sake of you and your family, please take a moment to read further and consider some important questions. You’ll be glad you did.

While I’m writing this for Provident, an insurance company, I’m not trying to sell you insurance. I’m drawing on my years of experience as the former Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner and as an officer with a volunteer fire company.

  • First, are your beneficiary forms current for all insurance policies you are covered by? These forms dictate who should receive the benefits from those policies. During my tenure as the Fire Commissioner, I had many conversations with surviving family members because no beneficiary was named. In some cases, a person got divorced and never changed beneficiaries. As a result, an ex-spouse was awarded the benefits while the current spouse, who had to pay funeral and other related expenses, received nothing. Don’t let this happen to your loved ones. Keep the forms updated with the current information.

  • Have you named a power of attorney, and do you have the legal document stating so? This document indicates the person or persons authorized to deal with medical and financial issues on your behalf if you were to become incapacitated or die. Don’t put your family in a position where they can’t act in your place if something happens to you.

  • Do you have a living will or medical directive that spells out medical treatments you would—or would not—want to keep you alive? This includes preferences for other medical decisions such as pain management or organ donation. These documents are extremely beneficial in ensuring your wishes are met, and they save your family from wondering what to do during a difficult and stressful time.

  • Does your organization have insurance policies such as accident and health policies that would pay a death benefit to your family if you died while performing an authorized activity? Moreover, in case of serious injury, does your organization have coverage in the policy to assist you with medical expenses, lost wages, permanent impairment, modification and/or retraining benefits—and even an education benefit for your spouse and children? If your organization does have this type of policy, are you aware of the benefit amounts? Furthermore, does your organizational leadership know what an authorized activity is, as defined in the policy, and how and when to file a claim? 

  • Does your organization value you by offering an accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) policy that would provide benefits to you or your family even when you’re not performing an authorized activity for the organization? For example, say you are a hunter and fall out of tree stand and die. The AD&D policy would most likely pay a death benefit to your family. Fortunately, an AD&D policy covers you 24 hours a day regardless of the situation.

  • Do you have a group life insurance policy? Is your family aware of the policy, and do they know how and where to file the claim? Perhaps your organization has purchased a group life policy for all members. Again, is your family aware of the policy? Does the organizational leadership know how and where to file a claim?

  • Are you and your family prepared in case you face a critical illness? With the increase in cancers related to fire service, Provident offers a critical illness policy that pays a living benefit if you develop certain types of cancer or have a heart attack, stroke, or renal failure. The policy also has an accidental death and dismemberment rider.

  • Finally, if your organization were to provide all the coverages discussed here, would you miss out because you did not have a current beneficiary form on file with your organization?

I know what you’re thinking: “It won’t happen to me; it always happens to the other guy.” Don’t be the other guy!

-Ed Mann, June 2021

This article was written by Chief Ed Mann, Provident’s Director of Training & Education, who served for nearly 15 years as the Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner.