Just six months after retiring from the 32-year-old Richmond, Virginia Fire Department, Len Archer received a devastating diagnosis from his doctor. He had pancreatic cancer, and he probably had only two to eight months to live.
For a moment, Len, 56, and his wife, Paula, went from planning their retirement to preparing for what seemed inevitable.  At the request of a friend, Len contacted the Cancer Treatment Centers of America® to see if there was any hope. Within a day, he heard back about a pilot study with the pharmaceutical company Merck & Co.® But it was a big catch: even though Len had health insurance, it did not cover the costly experimental treatment.
Shortly after receiving his diagnosis, Len promised not to let the cancer bankrupt them and leave his wife "alive under a bridge" after his death. Now the Archers were faced with the difficult choice of emptying their savings and selling the dream house they bought a decade ago, or refraining from treatment.
That was when Len's ERIE agent, Doug Cox, called.
"Literally a Lifeguard"  Doug, who had previously worked with Len at the fire department, had heard of his diagnosis. Years before, Doug had issued his friend a life insurance policy. As part of this $ 150,000 policy, Erie Family Life automatically included an Accelerated Death Benefit Rider * at no additional cost. This rider allows half of the value of the policy to be used in a terminal diagnosis.
"When Doug called, it was like an angel was talking to me," Len said. "I had completely forgotten that something like this was available." The rider provided $ 75,000 which was quickly deposited into Len's bank account. The extra money made Len's decision unpleasant. He would continue with the experimental treatment, without being forced to sell his home or empty his savings.
"It was literally a lifesaver," says Len. “$ 75,000 gave us the breathing space we needed to keep our finances in order and keep the wolves out the door. We were able to make some financial moves and things are going well now.
Remarkably, it is not just Len's finances that are healthier than expected. He is currently seeing positive results from the treatment. The cancer has stopped spreading and doctors are cautiously optimistic that he will be able to add a lot of time – maybe years – to his life.
He has already been able to celebrate his grandson's 13th birthday – something he thought he would never have seen.
"ERIE put hope in our hearts and gave me a reason to live," says Len. "Quite simply, Doug Cox and ERIE saved my life."
Len has become an advocate for a bill proposed in Virginia to help firefighters diagnosed with cancer – an occupational hazard they claim is due to the increasing amount of toxins they are exposed to at work.
And he encourages everyone he knows to talk to an ERIE agent about life insurance and to get this rider as part of their insurance.
"Give yourself peace of mind – and a chance to fight," Len says. “Call an ERIE agent right now to make sure you have the right life insurance. You will not regret it.
To learn more about Accelerated Death Benefit Rider, talk to your local ERIE agent, who can help you consider your options based on your personal situation and help you determine which coverage is right for you.
* ERIE® life products and services provided by Erie Family Life Insurance Company, based in Erie, Pa., A member of the Erie Insurance Group, are not available in New York. The rider is available in combination with a qualified life policy. See individual policies for specific coverage information. Certain terms and conditions may apply. See our disclaimer for further information.