Key-Person Insurance is a life or disability insurance policy taken out by a company on a key-person within the company. The Key-Person insurance policy itself is nothing exotic, it’s a standard life or disability insurance contract. For life coverage, typically it will be a term insurance policy, perhaps a 10 or 15 year policy. The differences in procedure revolves around the documentation since a company will own the policy as well as be the beneficiary.
Who is a Key-Person?
A key-person is a person within an organization that without which, that company would be in trouble. Examples of a key-person could be an executive such as a CEO or COO, an employee that has exceptional technical knowledge essential to the company like a CTO or key engineer or a key salesperson without which significant revenue would be lost.
The shared attribute of the examples is that if the executive, techie or sales chief was gone tomorrow there would significant damage done to the organization as a whole.
What is Key-Person Insurance for?
The insurance would secure the company against potential losses that derive from the death or disability of such a key person.
For starters, it would insure the company against the expense of replacing a key person. An executive search to replace a key officer can be time consuming and expensive. The insurance coverage would mitigate the company’s financial risk.
The coverage would also insure against potential lost revenue due to the loss of the Key-Person. As a for instance, if a key salesperson were gone tomorrow, what would that mean in terms of sales revenue lost. If a key executive with a litany of strategic contacts and relationships were gone tomorrow, what would that be worth in dollar terms
The amounts of coverage needed comes down to the potential revenue lost and the cost to find and train a suitable replacement.
When should a company have Key-Person Insurance
Probably the most common trigger for procuring this kind of coverage stems from VC funding as quite often it will be a prerequisite to closing out a deal. Outside investment will be apt to want to mitigate the risk of the death of a key-person in a company they may be investing in.
In the absence of an outside trigger, companies need to take stock of their own employee’s value. As a company grows and scales, there will be those certain employees upon which a company relies heavily. It is up to leadership to identify such employees and protect against the loss of those employees.
If this is an issue your company faces, here comes the shameless plug. I work on these issues quite a bit with companies facing this need. If it is something your company faces and warrants some guidance, feel free to reach out. I will be happy to act as a resource.