Key Man Insurance - Life insurance on the key person in a business.

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Q: What is key man insurance, and does my new business need it?

A: When you're just starting out, you've got a lot on your plate, and it seems like you spend all your time working on the urgent stuff--trying to get your product or service ready, hiring people, figuring out how to increase sales, paying the bills and so on. It's hard to find the time to consider something that isn't really urgent but that can be incredibly important, such as insurance--specifically, "key man" insurance.
Key man insurance is simply life insurance on the key person in a business. In a small business, this is usually the owner, the founders or perhaps a key employee or two. These are the people who are crucial to a business--the ones whose absence would sink the company. You need key man insurance on those people!

Here's how key man insurance works: A company purchases a life insurance policy on the key employee, pays the premiums and is the beneficiary of the policy. If that person unexpectedly dies, the company receives the insurance payoff. The reason this coverage is important is because the death of a key person in a small company often causes the immediate death of that company. The purpose of key man insurance is to help the company survive the blow of losing the person who makes the business work. The company can use the insurance proceeds for expenses until it can find a replacement person, or, if necessary, pay off debts, distribute money to investors, pay severance to employees and close the business down in an orderly manner. In a tragic situation, key man insurance gives the company some options other than immediate bankruptcy.

If the company is just you and doesn't have any employees or other people who depend on it, then key man insurance isn't as necessary. You'll notice that I didn't mention your family--don't confuse key man insurance with personal life insurance. If you have a spouse and/or children who depend on your income, then you should have personal life insurance for that purpose


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