When Shirley Tully was just starting her career in sales with Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company in 1993, she had a number of reasons to buy cancer coverage.
First off, her husband was a tobacco user and she thought the coverage would make sense.
Secondly, she thought it was important to own the products that she was selling to others.
And finally, her manager was passionate about the plan as Colonial Life had been an innovator in cancer coverage. The company has offered cancer insurance for more than 50 years and was one of the first to do so.
When she bought the policy, she wasn’t even eligible for some of the benefits, such as mammogram wellness benefits, because of her young age.
“But I did take advantage of other tests and encouraged others to do the same during the sale, reminding them of early detection saving lives and helps reduce medical costs,” she said.
Just a few years later, Tully would be taking full advantage of many of the policy’s benefits.
She would go for an exam and mammogram and immediately call in for her wellness benefit. A few days later, a check would arrive from Colonial Life and she would go shopping.
“That’s what I do with the benefits,” she said.
In September 2008, however, her life changed forever. When she visited the doctor for the follow-up appointment, she got the news: “Shirley, the test did not come back as well as we had hoped.”
A month later, she had a lumpectomy to remove the tumor. She then underwent more than six weeks of radiation.
During her treatment, she would work in the morning, eat lunch and then go for treatments – missing her afternoon work schedule. Because she was able to work during those weeks, she was not eligible to collect disability.
That’s where the benefits from her cancer insurance policy really kicked in.
“My cancer policy enabled me to keep the lights on, the water flowing, the roof over our heads and new gutters for the house,” she said.
Tully is not the only one to benefit from the policy. In 2013 alone, Colonial Life paid nearly $100 million in claims to 17,000 individuals battling cancer. In addition, nearly $25 million in wellness benefits was sent to 200,000 individuals for procedures to help detect cancer.
Six years later, Tully went for her annual mammogram. And the doctor’s words were music to her ears: “Your films are beautiful.”