Connect
To Top

Meet Dr. Brian Travers of Blue Sclera Disability Insurance in Broward County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Brian Travers.

Dr. Travers, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My story starts early on. I was born with a rare bone disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a.k.a. “Brittle Bone Disease” which means my body doesn’t have enough collagen. Collagen gives bone and other tissues tensile strength and without it, bones are fragile and susceptible to fracturing with little-to-no trauma at all. I started fracturing bones at 6 weeks of age and spent a majority of my childhood either in a hospital emergency room or my orthopedic surgeon’s office. It was the care I received, particularly from myorthopedic surgeon that inspired me early on in life that I knew I wanted to become a physician. I have an uncle who is a physician and I would always go through his medical books anytime I was at his house paying particular attention to his anatomy atlas so I could learn all about the human body. For my fourth-grade science fair project, I had two cookie sheets with each sheet having a clay a model representing the thoracic cavity with corresponding organs. Different color clay was used to represent the heart, lungs, arteries, veins and rib cage. I would then demonstrate how a heart transplant surgery was performed transplanting a heart from one chest cookie sheet to the other. The following year my project concentrated on Arteriosclerosis where I used a small Campbells soup can represent a healthy heart along with a larger whole tomato can represent a diseased heart. In the absence of not being able to participate in sports due to my bone disease, I occupied my time with medicine.

Years later, all the hard work and sacrifice paid off, I finally achieved my life-long dream and I graduated from medical school. For a time, my only concern was getting through another set of boards and where I wanted to enroll in my residency training. Then, in an instant, things changed. I went to bed one night and was awoken early the next morning by a splitting headache. As I got out of bed, I lost my balance due to vertigo, hit the wall and fell down. As concerning as this was, what had my attention the most was the fact that even though the TV was still I on, I couldn’t hear anything. Another hallmark of Osteogenesis Imperfecta is “hearing loss” and I developed this complication as well. Losing the ability to use a stethoscope to get through the remainder of my training put an end to my career as a physician. What didn’t end were my financial obligations, particularly my student loans.

At the time, I couldn’t afford the required monthly payment so I put my student loans into a “forbearance” program. My student loan balance back in 1995 was $80,000 with a required monthly payment of $890.00. My forbearance payment reduced the monthly required payment down to $210.00 a month. I obtained a job and attempted to move forward with my life without medicine. I faithfully made over $12,000 in monthly payments on my student loans over the next five years without ever missing a payment. However, the student loan balance grew from $80,000 to over $117,000. What I didn’t realize during the time when my loan was in forbearance, is that the payment was only being applied to a portion of the interest. The principal was growing on a daily basis and this is called “negative amortization”. When the forbearance period ended, I was in no position to return to making the full required monthly payments and ultimately I defaulted on my student loans. As I would learn, having the word “default” on your credit report compromises all facets of life. Eventually, I lost my home, surrendered my car and literally became homeless having to live with friends and family for a time. Eventually, I took a position at Rhode Island Hospital which happens to be a teaching hospital for the Brown University School of Medicine Residency training programs.

When one of the residents training in the department,I was working at heard about my story, he wanted to know if I had ‘Disability Insurance’ in place. I indicated that I never heard of such a thing. Of course, I read everything I could find about Disability Insurance coverage and it didn’t take long for me to realize that if I did have this coverage, my financial hardships may not have occurred. From there it was a natural progression for me to help other residents at the hospital every day. The department I worked in had residents training on a yearly basis and medical students rotated through the department every 6 weeks. I would go over the financial hardships I was going through and how Disability Insurance fit in. In time, I would visit other residency training departments to share my experience with them as well. I did this for five years, outlining what happened to me, answering questions about coverage and looking up answers I didn’t know for future reference. Then, my life changed again. I spoke to a new group of residents and when I finished, one resident stated “Why can’t we get this through you? This is your calling.” It literally hit me at that moment that she was right. From there, I obtained my insurance license, transitioned into financial services to work with residents and suddenly my life had meaning again. I was unable to take care of people from a medical perspective, but now I had the opportunity to take care of people from a financial perspective.

Initially, I sent out a prospecting mailing to the residents of one department, introducing myself in an effort to position myself as a resource for their Disability Insurance needs and I started taking on my first clients.  At the same time, I was referred to John Cronan, MD, Chief of Diagnostic Imaging Residency Training at Rhode Island Hospital by a mutual friend we shared.  Dr. Cronan provided me with my first opportunity to present my PowerPoint Presentation to the entire residency training program.  I never could have imagined the exponential growth that arose from that presentation.  I would go on to obtain essentially all of the residents training at that time as clients. A few of the senior residents would move on for additional specialty training at fellowship programs around New England and in New York and advise those residents to work with me as well. For the next two years, I was constantly on the road traveling either up to Boston or down to New York to give my presentation to residency training programs at their affiliated hospitals. I was so incredibly lucky to be acquiring resident physician clients on a daily basis simply based on my real-life experience. They, in turn, would refer their colleagues to us, advising them to work with my wife and me in securing Disability Insurance coverage.

Then on August 13, 2008, everything stopped. I wasn’t traveling that day which allowed me to catch up on paperwork at my office. I returned home early in the afternoon as I knew my wife and daughters were waiting at the pool. I finally arrived, greeted my wife and walked over to our daughters who were waiting for me at the edge of the pool. We held hands, counted to three, jumped in feet first as always but this time everything stopped. When I was briefly underwater after jumping in, I felt as if time stood still. I didn’t hurry to the surface, I floated underwater sensing something was wrong. When I did surface my movements were slow. I finally got over to the stairs where my daughters were waiting for me and I helped them out of the water. Once I climbed out of the pool, I informed my daughters we needed to talk to mom for a minute. I approached my wife who was reading a magazine and when she looked up at me and asked: “Did you bang your head?” I replied “no” and I went on to simply state: “There’s something wrong with me”. She encouraged me to go take a look in the mirror and when I did, I saw a large mass directly above my left eye. I walked back out to her, laid down and when I attempted to talk my words were coming out wrong. Instead of saying “I can’t talk, I can’t talk”, I kept saying “I talk can’t, I talk can’t”. The last thing I remember was her being on the phone calling 911 and the look in the faces of our daughters who couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. We know now that I suffered a rare type of cerebral hemorrhage called a ‘spontaneous sub-dural hematoma’ which left me in a coma on life-support in the Intensive Care Unit.

Over the next few weeks, I endured two life-saving brain surgeries for additional hemorrhaging, but they were not able to locate the source of the bleed.  During this time my wife was reminded that I am an organ donor and that she needed to give consideration to donation at some point. After a few weeks, my wife finally started to give this consideration and she found herself struggling how she was going to explain this to our daughters, that they would never see their Dad again. However, upon arrival to the ICU early one afternoonmy wife walked in to find my entire family there crying. She initially thought I had passed during the night, but my uncle approached her and said two words she never thought she would hear: “he’s awake.” As she walked into my room, I remained to lie motionless with my eyes closed and the only sounds to be heard was the respirator machine and the heart monitor. When she finally touched my hand, she was startled to see me open my eyes and we made eye contact. I remember her eyes were wide open, welling up with tears, and her bottom lip quivering back and forth. During the time I was in a coma, they informed my wife that due to the significant amount of blood loss, that if by chance I came out of the coma, they had no idea what condition I would be in cognitively. With that reminder, my wife knew a simple question to ask me to gauge my status: “What’s my name?” and I replied “Erin.” I never fell back into the coma.

A few days later, my wife and mother arrived at the ICU to learn I had been exhibiting odd behavior. They were informed that I kept repeating the numbers “675” and I was continuously “rubbing my fingers” together. They asked if that made any sense and my wife smiled. My wife asked if they put my hearing aid on for me which they acknowledged they did. She went on to inform them that the hearing aid takes a size “675” battery. I was trying to let them know that the battery needed to be replaced. She proceeded to tell them I was “rubbing my fingers” together because I was worried about money. As my wife went on to inform me that my Disability Insurance policy was activated, my mother wrote down what was being said for me to read in the event I wasn’t able to read my wife’s lips, but I could. This made me smile.

Maria Guglielmo, M.D., Chief of Neurosurgery at Kent Hospital in Rhode Island at the time, is responsible for saving my life.  She performed numerous surgeries and never gave up on me.  Every year on August 13, I call her office and leave a message with her receptionist expressing my gratitude for allowing me to still be here today.

About two years ago, my wife and I were talking about my desire to return to working with residents, helping them with their Disability Insurance needs. I believed that with my second disabling event occurring with Disability Insurance coverage in place, simply made my story more compelling. It’s unprecedented that a physician looking to obtain Disability Insurance coverage could learn from another physician who has experienced the consequences and benefits the coverage provides. We are simply attempting to pick up where we left off years ago and with the power of ‘social media’, we believe our message will resonate with physicians in all stages of their career.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As with life, there certainly have been struggles along the way whether it be physical, emotional or financial. Breaking bones on a regular basis is not a very comfortable event to endure time-after-time. There are other things I could have gotten used to but, in my case, I got used to breaking bones. Fortunately, I developed an interest in medicine so my orthopedic surgeon and I would challenge each other before any x-rays were taken to determine what bone(s) I may have broke, would it need to be reduced, what kind of cast would be needed and how long the recovery would be. Then, we would view the x-rays together and see who had the correct diagnosis.

Realizing that my life-long dream of becoming a physician was not going to happen, I was down on myself for a few years and I did my best to mask the emotional struggles I was dealing with. I never thought I would be “happy” with life. Fortunately, that changed the moment the resident encouraged me to pursue a career as an insurance advisor to work with physicians. I am forever grateful for her.

The financial hardships affected me in one form or another every day. Getting the word “default” on my credit report due to my student loans actually interfered with my ability to secure housing, get utilities turned on, and prevented me from getting a car in my name for some time.

When my wife and I welcomed our daughter Madison into our lives, I initially attempted to transition into pharmaceutical sales so that I could provide more financially toward my family. Pharmaceutical companies were glad to hear from me, who better to represent a company product to physicians than a physician. But as I learned, I didn’t meet hiring guidelines due to my credit score and no one would hire me. Obviously, that was a blessing in disguise because I transitioned into financial services and found my place.

Please tell us more about what you do, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
What I do can be found in my mission statement: “To make sure others will never have to endure the emotional and financial hardships I’ve endured due to lack of knowledge as it pertains to Disability Insurance, I don’t want anyone to ever have to tell my story.”

I am known for sharing my real-life experience to justify the need for Disability Insurance coverage. Whether I am talking to one person or giving a presentation to an entire residency program, I systematically go through what can happen to all facets of one’s life if your ability to work stops. My goal is to make sure each person understands why they need coverage first and foremost. Once they have an understanding, policy design becomes easy.

I am extremely proud of the fact that every person that has initiated contact with my wife and Iover the years has become a client. What makes this better is the fact that the majority of our business has been achieved through unsolicited referrals. The initial client emails we have on file for each client all start with the introduction that they are reaching out to us after being referred by an existing client. Essentially, we could trace back our entire book of business to a few residents, namely Eugene Lee, MD, Bob Tubbs, MD and Ana Lourenco, MD. Our process has served us well.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
For the most part, I wouldn’t change a thing if I were to start over again. If I were to do things differently, I may not be where I am today with the people I have in my life. As I’ve outlined, I’ve had a challenging life and I firmly believe that those life’s lessons along the way have made me stronger and that’s why I am still here today with my desire to serve others.

There is only one thing I would have done differently and that is getting a contractual agreement I was presented within writing as promised. I was presented with an opportunity and I accepted the offer on a handshake with the contract to follow. The terms of the offer were altered along the way and I never received the contract in writing. This resulted in an undue financial hardship that directly affected my wife and our young daughters. Lesson learned, always get it in writing.

Pricing:

  • DI Coverage is designed to replace roughly 60% of pretax wages which will cover 100% of ones take-home pay. Annual premiums will be between 1% – 3% of annual income. • Salary of $100,000 will offer annual cost of $1,000 – $3,000 • Salary of $150,000 will offer annual cost of $1,500 – $4,500 • Salary of $200,000 will offer annual cost of $2,000 – $6,000
  • Premiums are influenced by • Coverage amount • Benefit period duration • Waiting period length • Age and health • Occupation • Location • Addition of “riders”

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageMIA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in

  • Miami’s Most Inspiring Stories

    Every neighborhood in South Florida has its own vibe, style, culture and history, but what consistently amazes us is not what...

    Local StoriesJanuary 11, 2022
  • The Folks Solving The Problems You Need Solved

    One of the most important benefits of a thriving small business ecosystem is the myriad of problems of niche issues that...

    Local StoriesOctober 31, 2021
  • Community Member Spotlights

    It’s more important to understand someone than to judge them. We think the first step to understanding someone is asking them...

    Local StoriesOctober 4, 2021
  • Introverted Entrepreneur Success Stories: Episode 4

    Voyage is excited to present episode 4 of The Introverted Entrepreneur Success Stories show with our wonderful host and sales expert...

    Local StoriesOctober 3, 2021
  • Daily Inspiration: Meet Carly Cartaya

    Today we’d like to introduce you to Carly Cartaya. Carly, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with...

    Local StoriesSeptember 13, 2021
  • Community Highlights:

    The community highlights series is one that our team is very excited about.  We’ve always wanted to foster certain habits within...

    Local StoriesSeptember 8, 2021
  • Heart to Heart with Whitley: Episode 4

    You are going to love our next episode where Whitley interviews the incredibly successful, articulate and inspiring Monica Stockhausen. If you...

    Whitley PorterSeptember 1, 2021
  • Introverted Entrepreneur Success Stories: Episode 3

    We are thrilled to present Introverted Entrepreneur Success Stories, a show we’ve launched with sales and marketing expert Aleasha Bahr. Aleasha...

    Local StoriesAugust 25, 2021
  • Community Member Spotlights

    It’s more important to understand someone than to judge them. We think the first step to understanding someone is asking them...

    Local StoriesAugust 9, 2021