“You Can’t Make This Stuff Up”

One policyholder’s remarkable relationship with National Life

In 1955, a young, recently married man named Daniel Fuss was searching for a life insurance policy. Much to his dismay, no carriers would insure him including one represented by his best friend’s father. They didn’t want to “take a chance,” said Dan, on a person who was about to enter the Naval flight academy.

Then he learned about a company called National Life.

Not only did National Life insure Dan with a whole life policy, the company made a point to insure those who served and continue to serve our country. This, however, is just the beginning of the story.

Fast-forward to May 2021. Boya Zhang, who works in National Life’s Customer Engagement Center, received a typewritten note from Dan Fuss. Sixty-six years later, he wanted to surrender the policy he bought decades ago and donate the cash value to the company’s charitable foundation.

RoseMary Fuss, Dan’s wife, explained, “He was so indebted for the company insuring him that I said, well it makes sense to give the money back to them. They have a foundation and there must be need.” 

The National Life Group Foundation has an annual budget of $2,000,000, all of which is donated back into communities. It’s funded by National Life itself and never has it had a request for a private donation.

Knowing this was a unique situation, I decided to call Dan to learn what causes he is committed to so we could donate his gift to nonprofits that would resonate with him. What he shared with me was not what I expected.

Dan explained that he and his wife tragically lost their son, Tommy, almost sixteen years ago. He died by suicide. To honor Tommy’s legacy, RoseMary and Dan established the Tommy Fuss Team, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness, removing stigmas, further the understanding of adolescent mental illness, and prevent the tragic loss of lives cut short by suicide. They’ve also been supporting Boston Children’s Hospital to develop innovative strategies to identify young children at risk for anxiety, depressive, and psychotic disorders along with transformative new therapies that can limit the progression or even prevent the emergence of these disorders.

Right around the same time Dan sent his letter to us, our Foundation decided to add a second cause to our areas of focus: supporting children’s mental health. The proverbial stars and our causes were totally aligned.

As National Life’s Chairman, CEO, and President, Mehran Assadi, said, “This [children’s mental health] is something that is going to be a major focus for us as we move forward because the need is bigger than ever coming out of this pandemic.”

But there’s yet another chapter to this story. In 2009, National Life was raising capital to sustainably continue its growth. Who led one of the investment teams that participated in our surplus note offering? You guessed it: Dan Fuss. Today, National Life is the fastest growing life insurance company in the industry*.

In July, Mehran and I drove to Boston to personally thank Dan and RoseMary and learn about their good work. A gift basket of Vermont products in hand, Mehran and I were warmly welcomed into the Fuss’s home where we captured this story on video. To sit in the living room next to our Chairman as he spoke with a policyholder that National Life has had for sixty-six years was both humbling and remarkable.

You really can’t make this stuff up.     

*Among all reporting life insurance companies with individual life sales of at least $1 billion, Life Annuity Specialist, 5/14/21