Toowoomba’s Karen and George Minchell are salts of the earth, hard-working Aussies. In sharing their Invest Blue experience, they hope to encourage others who may find themselves in similar circumstances, to turn to an expert. After numerous medical setbacks and unwelcome redundancies along the way, a TPD (Total Permanent Disability) payout finally brought about some much-needed financial relief for the couple.
Karen and George thank their lucky stars that they crossed paths with Invest Blue Financial Adviser, Serenette Crombie a few years ago. “She is just wonderful, absolutely wonderful,” says Karen. “She looks after us as though we’re family.” And it’s thanks to wise decision making on Serenette’s part that the Minchells now find themselves looking ahead with enthusiasm, safe in the knowledge that they can finish home renovations, put their house on the market and downsize to something more suitable.
Karen and George have been married for over 30 years. Throughout this time there have been tremendous upheavals with work, finances and health but they remain a beautifully tight-knit pair.
The first major medical incident occurred when George was severely burnt at work in his twenties (he and Karen both worked at the same factory for around 20 years). It was months before he could walk again.
They’ve both also faced difficulties in more recent years. In 2011, with Karen having stopped work and with the mortgage nearly paid off, everything was looking rosy until massive flooding occurred across the region, causing extensive damage to the couple’s home. “We’re on top of a mountain and we were still flooded! Termites came out of the ground like you wouldn’t believe, and we had to borrow money to fix everything,” says George. Karen needed to return to work full-time and, having had to spend a significant amount to complete the necessary repairs to their home, the Minchells were back to square one financially.
And still, more trouble lay ahead. 2019 would prove to be the most difficult year yet when George had a double stroke and Karen suffered a terrible knee injury. “I was fully paralysed twice, six hours apart,” George says. “I could hear and see but was unable to move or speak. I remember the medical staff saying, ‘He’ll be like this for the rest of his life, there’s nothing we can do for him.” The medical staff clearly didn’t count on George’s resilience and tenacity, and he made a full recovery.
In hindsight, it may have been beneficial for George to receive extensive rehabilitation physio and delay his return to work, but neither of these things occurred. In resuming work just six weeks after his double stroke, it wasn’t long before George’s health and strength began deteriorating. He still faces health challenges today due to the stokes. According to George, “Going back to work that early ruined my body.” George says he’s living at about 60% capacity these days.
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For Karen, an everyday occurrence at home the same year changed her mobility forever. “As I reached for something, there was a snap in my knee which caused a meniscus tear, cartilage tear and a Baker’s cyst. It was bone on bone.” Just six months later Karen tore 60% of the tendons in her hip. These combined injuries, both on her right side, means that Karen now walks with a cane or a walking frame.
It was these injuries that led Serenette to advise they submit a TPD claim on Karen’s behalf.
The financial adviser has always wanted the very best for Karen and George and the severity of Karen’s injuries were evident every time the trio got together. Serenette strongly believed it was worth a shot and helped the Minchells see it that way too.
The claim process was a slow and emotional one and both parties had no way of knowing the outcome.
It was 10 months of waiting before a phone call came…
The wait proved worthwhile. The claim was approved.
It’s a phone call the pair will never forget. “I remember Serenette crying when she told us. We couldn’t quite believe it. It was the best news in the world for us,” says George.
The timing of the approval was fortunate as George had recently been made redundant and was concerned that his age would hold him back from further employment opportunities.
As the only one in the relationship that’s physically able to work, George prefers not to think about ‘what might have been’ had the claim been knocked back. It’s a scary and overwhelming prospect.
Serenette shares her perspective on hearing the good news. “It was such a special day when word came through.
Karen and George also called me from the bank about a week later as they paid out their home loan debt,” she says, before adding, “In some ways an insurance claim is hard because it means something terrible has occurred but being able to share this experience with the Minchells and have an outcome that literally changes their direction in life is such a privilege. I’m delighted that they’re no longer burdened by debt and can live with peace of mind as they make the necessary changes to their home before beginning the next chapter of their lives.”
It’s clear that there’s a great bond between Serenette and her clients. Karen and George could not speak more highly of their trusted adviser. “She does so much for us and always treats us with great kindness and respect,” says Karen. “When my love had his stroke Serenette guided me all the way through that rollercoaster ride until George came out of hospital,” Karen adds before continuing with her kind words,
“We’re treated like family and have been cared for and supported at every step. You can’t ask for better people than we have at Invest Blue.”
George appreciates Serenette most for her down to earth manner.
“She really listens and understands. We’re not financial people, we’re just everyday people and Serenette explains things in a way I understand. I couldn’t ask for someone more switched on and approachable to handle our finances.” For George, a single statement sums it up best – “You simply couldn’t do without having a person like Serenette looking after you.”
The successful claim will bring about great change for the Minchells. In addition to paying off their mortgage, the money is being used on improvements to modernise the home’s interior before it goes on the market. George for one can’t wait to see the back of all that lawn mowing! With a one-acre property, all that mowing absolutely wipes him out. George says with a laugh, “If the next place has a lawn, I’ll concrete over it!”
The plan is to buy a small home and do it up but for once, George will call in the professionals rather than doing all the hard yakka himself. The new home will be in town and will have a disability-friendly layout and inclusions.
From here on in, the couple can enjoy the simple things – painting for Karen, woodwork and tinkering in the shed for George, walks in the park, grabbing a coffee at a nearby cafe. Travel is on the cards too, specifically to Western Australia to catch up with Karen’s family.
They say, ‘good things come to those who wait.’ The Minchells have done plenty of waiting and pushed through adversity time and time again. This is the next phase of their lives, and we hope it brings Karen and George all that they wish for. After all, a change of fortune for this Toowoomba twosome seems long overdue.
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These clients have agreed to share their stories. Everyone’s situation is different, so their choices and outcomes will be different to yours. Consider your circumstances before deciding what’s right for you.