In Focus: Protecting your client  

Case study: Can your company survive without you?

Case study: Can your company survive without you?
Protection is more cost-effective than people realise, says Will Harries. (credit: Mohamed Hassan, Pixabay)

The loss of a key person can have a big impact on any small business, yet often owners are so focused on achieving financial success they forget to ensure the continuity of the company in case a key person drops out due to illness or even death, warns Lumin Wealth.

A case study supplied by the advice business highlights how insurance can help when the loss of a key person threatens to lead to reduced sales, wasted time, profit reductions, and disrupted development plans.

Such protection is often more cost-effective than people realise, says Will Harries, financial consultant at Lumin Wealth, as he warns that smaller companies are the most in need of business protection, but the least likely to have insurance policies in place.

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This view was echoed by Roy McLoughlin, associate director at Cavendish Ware, who told FTAdviser earlier this month that the number of business protection policies written was "woefully short".

"This is a particular problem for smaller businesses, which make up the vast majority of businesses in the UK. A lot of the larger ones may have relationships with employee benefits companies," he said.

Choosing between the different types of policies can be complicated, says Will Harries 

Business' insurance needs vary but they typically depend on the ownership structure, key personnel and the company's valuation or size, says Harries.

The case

A company is valued at £2mn with two directors and three highly valued employees. No existing business protection cover is in place.

The directors’ family members do not have the interest or experience or skills to become actively involved in the business.

On the other hand, neither director would have sufficient funds to buy out their business partner’s stake if they were to pass away or become seriously ill.

The solution

One solution Harries recommends is a key person policy taken out for each of the directors. This gives the company a lump sum benefit to cater for an anticipated loss of future revenue.

The amount needing to be covered will depend on the perceived value the individual brings to the business, or the damage their loss would cause.

For instance, what would the recruitment cost be to replace them, how long would it take to find a replacement, how much money are they bringing into the business, and are there any loans secured against the business by that person that might need to paid back?

Illustration provided by Lumin Wealth

With this type of cover the proceeds in the event of a payout would go to the business. Key person insurance is written on the life of another, with the company being the owner of the policy and the life assured the key employee.

Another option is shareholder protection, which is taken out under an own life policy to the value of the individuals’ shares. Each shareholder can take this out, and the policy is written under a business trust, says Harries.

"This type of insurance policy is placed in trust and benefits the other shareholders and the shareholder’s family. This policy ensures that the proceeds are made available to the other shareholders to buy the company shares from the deceased’s or critically ill shareholder’s family.