|By Scott Maben, The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The moment the stolen SUV smashed into her as she crossed a
And worrying about her family -- her husband, Rick, and their four young children, 5-year-old twins and 2-year-old twins.
The hit-and-run that nearly killed Rieger nine years ago left her unable to return to full-time work for three years.
"In that moment my life changed forever," said Rieger, 48, the owner and president of
As bad as it was, she and her family were spared financial hardship. Rieger carried disability insurance that replaced part of her income and allowed her to focus on her arduous recovery.
"Disability income is so underutilized and misunderstood. So often people wait until something happens and then try to figure it out," she said. "We just don't consider insuring our paycheck."
Half of all households would be in dire straits from missing a paycheck for even one month, according to an April survey by
Rieger said the replacement income from her policy, as well as
She required in-home care and needed extra help with her children and business. For a time, the couple's living expenses nearly tripled.
"Even being a financial planner, I was not aware how quickly we'd blow through our resources," she said. "We were saddled with lots of additional costs."
Having disability insurance paid off, she said. It provided a steady income and protected their home, retirement savings and children's college funds.
And that was a great relief, Rieger said. Finding the energy to focus on her recovery was hard enough.
Her story caught the attention of the
"Things happen when you don't take any risk," she said. "Sometimes people think you have to be bungee jumping or doing something crazy to invite something to happen. But in most cases it's cancer or an ongoing medical issue."
In her case, she was crossing the street. It was
A 19-year-old man driving a stolen Toyota Highlander slammed into her and sped away. He was caught and later sent to prison. Rieger was left to make a long recovery.
The impact shattered her pelvis into more than 40 pieces, tore her knees apart, compressed her lower back and ripped her right shoulder socket. She had such massive internal bleeding that surgeons could not operate for two weeks.
Her doctors weren't sure she'd walk again -- a devastating disclosure for the athletic, 6-foot-tall woman. She was a ski racer growing up in
She was determined to not only walk again but return to life as she knew it. Today she leads an active lifestyle again. In July she will pedal in a 204-mile bicycle race from
As a full-service financial services firm,
She does urge younger people to think hard about disability insurance as part of a complete plan to save and protect their money.
"It is a balancing act of what you can afford and then what you need," she said. "If you need your paycheck to pay your bills, then you need disability insurance."
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