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Insights & advice

How key person insurance can help your business

August 2022 – 15 min read

Key takeaways

  • Key person insurance is insurance a company buys on the life or health of an owner or employee crucial to the company’s success

  • With collateral assignment, this type of business insurance can also help your company borrow money

  • Even if business owners have key person insurance coverage, they should also consider personal life insurance

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What is key person insurance?

Key person insurance (sometimes known as key man insurance or key employee insurance) is insurance a business buys on the life or health of an owner or employee who is essential to the success of the business.   

There are 3 types of key person insurance:

  • Life insurance

    Let’s say you purchase a key person life insurance policy for your important sales manager. If they died, the life insurance proceeds would help you meet financial objectives in their absence and pay for hiring and training a replacement.

  • Critical illness insurance

    With key person critical illness insurance, if your sales manager has an illness covered by the policy, it will pay a lump sum to your business to help cover financial losses or lower productivity from that person being away from work.

  • Disability insurance

    Key person disability insurance can benefit your business 2 ways. If your sales manager becomes disabled, it can help you to continue providing them with a salary until age 65 or they recover, whichever comes first. It can also help you continue paying office expenses and salaries during the time of the disability.

How key person insurance can protect a business

The right insurance coverage can help you:

  • Protect your business, if you, or a key employee is suddenly unable to work
  • Secure or pay off a business loan (known as collateral assignment)
  • Provide you or your business partner with money to help buy the other person’s share of the business, if 1 of you is leaving. While there are different ways to arrange funding, life insurance is often the most cost-effective, simplest, and most secure method.
  • Cover expenses for you or your family if 1 of you is leaving

What is collateral assignment?

Not only can life insurance help protect your business, it can also help your business borrow money. 

Sometimes when your business is just starting out, it may not have the assets traditionally used to back a loan. 

With collateral assignment, a company makes a third-party lender the primary beneficiary of a corporately-owned life insurance policy used as collateral for a business loan or line-of-credit from that third-party lender. 

When you use collateral assignment of a life insurance policy, you designate that during the life of the loan, the lender can collect some or all of the policy. And if something happens to you before the loan is repaid, the lender can make a claim against your policy.

The need for personal insurance as well

If you’re a business owner, having key person insurance is important. But there are great reasons to also have personal life insurance. 

Protect your family’s financial security

If something happened to you, life insurance could help your family pay off personal debt including your mortgage, fund your children’s education, and replace your income so they can pay bills. 

Life insurance can also help you ensure that any children who aren’t involved in your business share equally in your estate. 

Leaving a legacy

Life insurance can also be used to fund a charity or a private foundation.

The information provided is based on current laws, regulations and other rules applicable to Canadian residents. It is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the date of publication. Rules and their interpretation may change, affecting the accuracy of the information. The information provided is general in nature, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for advice in any specific situation. For specific situations, advice should be obtained from the appropriate legal, accounting, tax or other professional advisors.