Key Person Insurance or Key Man Insurance

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Key Person Insurance Definition

Key Person Insurance (also called Key Man Insurance) is a life insurance on a key employee, partner or owner on whom the continued successful operation of a business depends. For personal life insurance usually family member is the beneficiary, in case of Key Person Insurance the business is the beneficiary under the policy.

Key person insurance is simply life insurance on the key person in a business.

  • For large companies the key person may be an executive, principal shareholder, a senior scientist, or a particularly effective salesperson.
  • In a small business, this is usually the owner, the founders/partners 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 definitely need to consider key person insurance on those people.

How key person insurance works

Here's how key person insurance works: A company purchases a life insurance policy on its key employee(s), 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 can cause the immediate death of that company. The purpose of key person 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,
  • in smaller companies partners can use the money to purchase the shares in the business from the family of the deceased,
  • 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 person insurance gives the company some options other than immediate bankruptcy.

If the company is a sole proprietorship and employs just you and no other employees or has no other people who depend on it, then key person insurance isn't as necessary.

Don't confuse key person 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.

Who needs key person insurance?

Look at your business and think about who is irreplaceable in the short term to determine who needs Key Person Insurance. In many small businesses, it's the owner who holds the company together - he may keep the books, manage the employees, handle the key customers and so on. If that person is gone, the business pretty much stops.

How much key person insurance do you need?

That depends on your business, but in general, you should get as much key person insurance as you can afford. In Australia the sum insured can range between $500,000 and $10 million of cover. Think of how much money your business would need to survive until it could replace the key person, come up to speed and get the business back on its feet. Buy a policy that fits into your budget and will address your short-term cash needs in case of tragedy.

Here at Rate Detective we compare up to 12 australian life insurance companies. Fill out the form on this page to request the quotes, we will scan the market then and provide you with the best option key person insurance. You'll save time and money.

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Damon Rasheed is the CEO of Rate Detective, an Australian financial service comparison sites specialising in Life Insurance, Income Protection Insurance and home loans. Damon holds a Master's Degree in Economics from the University of Melbourne and has been involved in many start-up internet businesses.