Business Insurance – Key Person Coverage

Courtesy of iii.org

Many businesses—especially small businesses with fewer employees—depend on a single person or a few key people for their success. If a key person becomes unable to work or dies, the business might lose valuable accounts or be temporarily unable to operate, resulting in lost revenue.

The loss of an important employee can hurt the morale of a business, but the financial impact can be mitigated if a business purchases key person insurance. This type of coverage can enable a business to continue paying its bills and fund the search for a new employee. In unfortunate instances where a business cannot survive without the key employee, the funds from key person insurance can be used to pay severance to employees, distribute funds to investors and close the business in an orderly manner.

Key person insurance is usually owned by the business, which pays the premiums. This coverage is also a requirement of most banks and lending institutions when applying for financing or credit.

Who qualifies as a “key person”?

There are no hard-and-fast rules for identifying key persons in your business. Generally, anyone who directly contributes to a company’s bottom line or is fundamental to its operations might be considered a key person. Examples include:

  • C-Suite Executives—such as a CEO or COO.
  • Leading sales personnel.
  • Heads of product development.
  • Engineers or other difficult-to-replace personnel.

Types of key person insurance

Key person insurance comes in the following two forms:

  • Key Person Life Insurance—This type of coverage differs from regular life insurance in that it specifically covers individuals in a business who are crucial to company operations. It provides the business with an infusion of cash if an insured key employee dies, regardless of cause or place of death. These funds can help compensate for revenue lost as a result of the death, as well as pay off debts, buy out surviving shareholders’ interest from heirs and finance the costs of a new employee search or training programs. Key person life insurance can be purchased as term insurance lasting for a defined period of time or as extended universal or whole life coverage. The amount of coverage is based on a key person’s income, overall business revenue and the portion of revenue attributable to the key person.
  • Key Person Disability Insurance—This policy will provide funds to a business if an insured key employee becomes disabled and unable to work—partially or entirely. While standard disability insurance covers an employee’s lost salary and medical expenses, a key person disability policy provides funding to a business to make up for lost revenue, the cost of hiring a new employee and other related expenses.

Like other disability and life insurance policies, the cost of premiums for key person insurance depends on the age, health and role of the key employee, as well as the risks the employee takes in their personal life—for example, does the CEO fly her own plane?

“First-to-die” key person coverage

A cost-effective option for buying key person insurance is for a group of executives to join together on a “first-to-die” policy that insures just the first of the group who passes away. Once the policy is used to cover the loss of the first person to die, another member of the group becomes eligible for coverage. Thus, the key person insurance continues for the new members of the leadership team, but premiums reflect the fact that only one life is being covered at a time.

This type of insurance can be a useful tool when it comes to succession planning for your business—and having a succession plan is crucial to ensure the successful transfer of your company or business interests.

Your insurance professional can provide guidance on options and costs of individual and first-to-die key person coverage.

Business Owners Insurance Policies

Courtesy of iii.org

It may sound like a dance craze from the 1950s, but a BOP—a Business Owners Policy—can protect your small business against today’s most common risks. Fire, burglary, liability and business interruption losses are all covered under a BOP.

Since a BOP is prepackaged, there is only one policy to review and it can be more cost effective than purchasing separate policies. Additional coverage can be added in the form of endorsements or riders.

Since a BOP insurance policy is specifically designed for small and medium-sized businesses, the type of business can influence eligibility. Normally, companies with 100 employees or fewer and revenues of up to about $5 million or less are candidates for a BOP. Some types of businesses, such as restaurants, may be ineligible for a BOP because of the specific risks inherent in the business and may need to consider buying the individual coverages separately.

Combining three insurance policies into one package

In a single, convenient package, a BOP provides the core insurance that most small businesses need, including:

  • Property insurance—Protection for your building or office space, as well as property owned by your business, such as equipment and inventory.
  • Liability insurance—Coverage for costs that arise if someone is injured at your business or by using your products or services.
  • Business interruption insurance—Also known as Business Income insurance, this coverage replaces lost revenues in the event that your business has to shut down due to fire, wind damage or other covered losses.

You can tailor a BOP to meet your needs

It’s important to understand that a BOP doesn’t cover all risks associated with running a small business and the coverage limits are usually lower. If you have employees, you may be required to carry workers compensation insurance, depending on your state. If you have a business-owned vehicle, you’ll need coverage beyond your personal car insurance. You might also consider insurance for relatively new risks such as computer system break-in or business identity theft.

There are unique risks associated with your small business; an insurance professional can help you find the coverages that are right for you. Here are some other types of insurance to explore and ask about:

  • Professional liability insurance
  • Employee practices liability insurance
  • Business vehicle insurance
  • Workers compensation
  • Health and disability
  • Flood and sewer back-up
  • Cyberrisk insurance
  • Terrorism insurance

Increasing your coverage with excess and umbrella insurance

You can increase the protection provided by your BOP and other business insurance policies by adding an excess liability or umbrella insurance policy. This type of supplemental policy boosts your coverage beyond the limits of your primary insurance policies. Depending on the policy, your umbrella coverage is designed to broaden and increase coverage, “filling in the gaps” left by other types of liability insurance by covering additional areas of risk and even reimbursing you for deductibles. Your insurance professional can advise you about combining an umbrella policy with a BOP or other business insurance.

What is Business Interruption Insurance?

Courtesy of iii.org

Business interruption insurance can be as vital to your survival as a business as fire insurance. Most people would never consider opening a business without buying insurance to cover damage due to fire and windstorms. But too many small business owners fail to think about how they would manage if a fire or other disaster damaged their business premises so that they were temporarily unusable. Business interruption coverage is not sold separately. It is added to a property insurance policy or included in a package policy.

A business that has to close down completely while the premises are being repaired may lose out to competitors. A quick resumption of business after a disaster is essential.

  1. Business interruption insurance compensates you for lost income if your company has to vacate the premises due to disaster-related damage that is covered under your property insurance policy, such as a fire. Business interruption insurance covers the revenue you would have earned, based on your financial records, had the disaster not occurred. The policy also covers operating expenses, like electricity, that continue even though business activities have come to a temporary halt.
  2. Make sure the policy limits are sufficient to cover your company for more than a few days. After a major disaster, it can take more time than many people anticipate to get the business back on track. There is generally a 48-hour waiting period before business interruption coverage kicks in.
  3. The price of the policy is related to the risk of a fire or other disaster damaging your premises. All other things being equal, the price would probably be higher for a restaurant than a real estate agency, for example, because of the greater risk of fire. Also, a real estate agency can more easily operate out of another location.

Extra expense insurance

Extra expense insurance reimburses your company for a reasonable sum of money that it spends, over and above normal operating expenses, to avoid having to shut down during the restoration period. Usually, extra expenses will be paid if they help to decrease business interruption costs. In some instances, extra expense insurance alone may provide sufficient coverage, without the purchase of business interruption insurance.

Home-Based Business & Insurance

Courtesy of iii.orgWhether you’re running a part-time, seasonal or full-time business from your home, you’ll want to carefully consider your risks and insurance needs. Starting a business—even at home—can be a challenging venture, and having the right insurance can provide a financial safety net and peace of mind.

Your insurance choices should, in part, be based on the type of business you operate. For instance, if you’re a sole practitioner home-based accountant, you’ll have very different insurance needs than your neighbor who runs a childcare business. When considering insurance for your business, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What type of business do I run? What are the potential risks faced by your type of business?
  • What is the value of my business property? Do you have expensive equipment, such as cameras or commercial printers? Do you stock valuable business inventory, such as gemstones?
  • Does my business have employees?
  • Do customers or contractors visit my business at my home?
  • Do I use my car or other vehicles in the course of my business operations?
  • Does my business store customers’ financial and personal information on a computer or through a cloud computing service?

The answers to these questions will guide which types of insurance to purchase—and how much coverage you’ll need. For your home-based business, the main types of insurance to consider include the following:

Property and liability insurance

Depending on the nature of your home-based business, you’ll need insurance to protect the value of your business property from loss due to theft, fire or other insured perils. You’ll also need liability protection to cover costs if someone is injured as a result of visiting your business or using your product or service. Your homeowners insurance may provide some protection for your business, but it may not be sufficient. Options for property and liability insurance for home-based businesses include:

  • Adding an “endorsement” to your homeowners policy
  • Stand-alone home-based business insurance policies
  • A Business Owners Policy—or BOP—which combines several types of coverage

Business vehicle insurance

Your personal auto insurance may provide coverage for limited business use of your car. But if your business owns vehicles or your personal vehicle is primarily used for business purposes, you’ll need business vehicle insurance.

Workers compensation insurance

If you have employees, you’ll want to strongly consider purchasing workers compensation insurance to cover costs if an employee is hurt on the job. Workers compensation insurance provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment, in exchange for relinquishing the right to sue the employer. In some states, workers compensation insurance is mandatory, so be sure to check your state’s workers compensation website for local requirements.

Other types of insurance may be suitable for your home-based business as well. Your insurance professional can help you evaluate your needs and select insurance to meet your budget.

Business Interruption Insurance

Courtesy of iii.org

Business interruption insurance can be as vital to your survival as a business as fire insurance. Most people would never consider opening a business without buying insurance to cover damage due to fire and windstorms. But too many small businessowners fail to think about how they would manage if a fire or other disaster damaged their business premises so that they were temporarily unusable. Business interruption coverage is not sold separately. It is added to a property insurance policy or included in a package policy.

A business that has to close down completely while the premises are being repaired may lose out to competitors. A quick resumption of business after a disaster is essential.

  1. Business interruption insurance compensates you for lost income if your company has to vacate the premises due to disaster-related damage that is covered under your property insurance policy, such as a fire. Business interruption insurance covers the revenue you would have earned, based on your financial records, had the disaster not occurred. The policy also covers operating expenses, like electricity, that continue even though business activities have come to a temporary halt.
  2. Make sure the policy limits are sufficient to cover your company for more than a few days. After a major disaster, it can take more time than many people anticipate to get the business back on track. There is generally a 48-hour waiting period before business interruption coverage kicks in.
  3. The price of the policy is related to the risk of a fire or other disaster damaging your premises. All other things being equal, the price would probably be higher for a restaurant than a real estate agency, for example, because of the greater risk of fire. Also, a real estate agency can more easily operate out of another location.

Extra expense insurance

Extra expense insurance reimburses your company for a reasonable sum of money that it spends, over and above normal operating expenses, to avoid having to shut down during the restoration period. Usually, extra expenses will be paid if they help to decrease business interruption costs. In some instances, extra expense insurance alone may provide sufficient coverage, without the purchase of business interruption insurance.