What is keyman insurance – How much is it and who should get it?

16 min Read Published: 18 Jun 2020

What is keyman insuranceThere is plenty you can do to protect employees in the workplace, but could your business survive if a key staff member or director was no longer around?

That is where keyman insurance kicks in. In this article, I explain how keyman insurance works, the tax implications as well as how much it costs. More importantly, I explain how I sourced the best deal and advice for Money to the Masses as a company, when we decided to put keyman insurance in place for key employees. Using this link you can jump straight to the section covering the latter if you wish - Compare keyman insurance quotes - securing the best cover for your business.

What is keyman insurance?

Everyone is used to health and safety at work. There are plenty of warning signs that tell you to look out for hazards, cones warning you if the floor is wet and easy access to first aid boxes in the office. A business can’t survive without its staff, but there are extra measures that can be taken beyond health and safety.

Research by Legal & General claims almost half of businesses would fail if a key person in the company dies or becomes critically ill. There is no warning sign you can put up for that, but a firm could set up a form of business protection called keyman insurance (also known as keyman cover). This helps a business cover any potential lost profits, loan repayments or the cost of replacing a staff member or director who is crucial to their operation. This could be someone who is key to project development or who acquires new customers and has an ongoing relationship with them.

What does keyman insurance cover?

A key staff member is typically defined as someone who is crucial to the financial success of a company. This can be hard to define, but it could be the business founder or someone who sets the company strategy, or even the top salesman or someone with niche but crucial skills. Like a life insurance policy, it pays out if that person or a group of people that are covered, pass away. The payout is then used to cover the costs of finding a replacement or to replace lost profits.

You may also be required to take out keyman insurance cover as a form of business loan protection when getting a bank loan. This gives a lender reassurance as the keyman insurance will cover repayment of the debt if a person who is deemed crucial to the firm is no longer around.

Keyman insurance doesn’t just have to cover death of a crucial staff member or director. It can also provide a payout in the event of an eligible critical illness or long-term disability that means an important person can no longer work. There is also a keyman income protection insurance option that will help fund the salary and temporary replacement of a key person who needs time off work due to an eligible condition. In the case of critical illness, long-term disability, and income protection, insurers may have exemptions so you would need to check what the policy actually covers before taking it out.

How does keyman insurance work?

If you have taken out life cover for yourself, you will already be familiar with how keyman insurance works. The premium for key worker protection is calculated based on age, health and lifestyle, but it is actually the business, rather than the individual insured, that pays the premiums. Additionally, the business is the keyman insurance beneficiary, so it will receive any payout.

The price of the policy will depend on how long it is taken out for (the term) as well as the level of cover. The amount of protection taken is usually calculated by either a multiple of the person’s salary or how much profit or turnover they create and how long it could take to recover. Alternatively, some businesses may look at the direct costs of a replacement such as finding new staff, paying a salary and how long it would take to replace the lost revenue.

Is keyman insurance tax deductible?

Similar to any expenses, one of the most common questions businesses ask is whether keyman life insurance is tax-deductible? The broad principles on whether an employer can deduct keyman insurance premiums are more than 70 years old, having been outlined in 1944 by the then chancellor Sir John Anderson. He pointed out that all cases will be different but said the sole relationship between the business and the key person must be that of an employer and employee.

A shareholder can be covered, but the premium can only be claimed as an expense if they don’t have a “significant” holding. This is typically deemed at less than 5% but may be open to interpretation by the taxman. Additionally, the plan can only be tax deductible if it is used to cover lost profits and must be a form of term insurance covering someone only while working at the business rather than a whole of life policy. This means the keyman insurance premium is not tax-deductible if it is covering other aspects such as a business loan.

Tax treatment of a keyman insurance policy payout can also be unclear. Generally, if you got the tax relief on the premiums then the payout will be taxed as it will be used to boost your business profits, ultimately pushing up your corporation tax liability. If the business didn’t get the relief on premiums, then it is likely that the payout will be treated as capital rather than profit in the business, so won’t be taxable. As usual everything is down to HMRC’s own interpretation so it is best to check with HMRC or an accountant.

When should you consider keyman insurance?

Keyman insurance benefits the whole firm as it provides continuity. There are plenty of times to consider keyman insurance. It is important when starting out as your firm may be reliant on a key group of talented individuals to help it grow, or more established firms may need staff with a particular skillset. Staff are the greatest asset a business has. Losing an important person in a firm may not just hit profits but could also cause uncertainty and make others want to leave.

Small businesses in particular may have an influential founder whose departure could mean a loss of ideas and leadership, while firms of all sizes may have a salesperson responsible for bringing in most profit or someone with extra technical skills that can’t be easily replaced. Ultimately, keyman insurance helps alleviate periods of uncertainty and ensures a business can continue to operate both financially and culturally even if it loses an important staff member. For many, that should be in the business plan from day one.

How much keyman insurance do you need?

Every business is different and so there is no hard and fast rule. That said, there is a general rule which can be followed to ensure that your business has the minimum amount of protection should a key employee die. Firstly, identify which key individuals you want to insure. Then, work out their value to your business. To do this, you should try and identify the portion of either net or gross profits that the key person is directly responsible for.

Once you have done that, you should consider insuring them for at least 2 x the amount of gross profit that they bring in or 5 x net profit. We have provided two useful tables below

How much keyman insurance you need based on the percentage of gross profit he/she is responsible

Gross profits of £25,000 Gross profits of £50,000 Gross profits of £100,000 Gross profits of £250,000 Gross profits of £1,000,000
Responsible for 10% £5,000 £10,000 £20,000 £50,000 £200,000
Responsible for 20% £10,000 £20,000 £40,000 £100,000 £400,000
Responsible for 30% £15,000 £30,000 £60,000 £150,000 £600,000
Responsible for 40% £20,000 £40,000 £80,000 £200,000 £800,000
Responsible for 50% £25,000 £50,000 £100,000 £250,000 £1,000,000
Responsible for 60% £30,000 £60,000 £120,000 £300,000 £1,200,000
Responsible for 70% £35,000 £70,000 £140,000 £350,000 £1,400,000
Responsible for 80% £40,000 £80,000 £160,000 £400,000 £1,600,000
Responsible for 90% £45,000 £90,000 £180,000 £450,000 £1,800,000
Responsible for 100% £50,000 £100,000 £200,000 £500,000 £2,000,000

As you can see from the table above, as a rough guide, you should consider insuring a key person in your business for roughly 2 x the amount of gross profit that they are personally responsible for. So if we look at the table above, if an individual is responsible for 50% of a business that generates gross profits of £100,000, then they should be insured for at least £100,000. Remember, this is just a guide and it would be sensible to seek advice. We explain more about getting advice later in this article.

How much keyman insurance you need based on the percentage of net profit he/she is responsible

Net profits of £25,000 Net profits of £50,000 Net profits of £100,000 Net profits of £250,000 Net profits of £1,000,000
Responsible for 10% £12,500 £25,000 £50,000 £125,000 £500,000
Responsible for 20% £25,000 £50,000 £100,000 £250,000 £1,000,000
Responsible for 30% £37,500 £75,000 £150,000 £375,000 £1,500,000
Responsible for 40% £50,000 £100,000 £200,000 £500,000 £2,000,000
Responsible for 50% £62,500 £125,000 £250,000 £625,000 £2,500,000
Responsible for 60% £75,000 £150,000 £300,000 £750,000 £3,000,000
Responsible for 70% £87,500 £175,000 £350,000 £875,000 £3,500,000
Responsible for 80% £100,000 £200,000 £400,000 £1,000,000 £4,000,000

Again, as you can see from the table above, as a rough guide, you should consider insuring a key person in your business for roughly 5 x the amount of net profit that they are personally responsible for. So if we look at the table above, if an individual is responsible for 50% of a business that generates net profits of £100,000, then they should be insured for at least £250,000. Again, this is just a guide and we would recommend that you seek advice. See below for further details

How much does keyman insurance cost?

The cost of keyman insurance will vary across providers. The amount your business pays in keyman insurance premiums will depend, similar to life insurance, on the person being insured as well as the level of cover or benefits. You will need to work out how much profit will be lost, how much it will cost to find a replacement and any other potential losses to the business. The more cover you have, the more it will cost. You also have to consider the risk of the person leaving the firm as you then will have paid premiums for a policy you will never use. In this situation, the insured individual can usually take over the product and manage it themselves.

There are lots of factors to think about when finding the right keyman insurance such as knowing who to cover, how much and for how long, and that is even before you consider the tax liability. As with any financial product, keyman insurance providers will have a variety of rates. It is therefore important to shop around for a keyman insurance quote.

Compare keyman insurance quotes - securing the best cover for your business

It's important to speak to a competent protection specialist to find the most suitable keyman insurance policy for you and your company. MoneytotheMasses has vetted the service of an independent protection specialist that provides an excellent service.

As I mentioned at the start of this article we put in place keyman insurance for key employees at Money to the Masses. After vetting the level of service and expertise provided, I would recommend that you speak to LifeSearch* whom I trusted to put in place insurance policies that not only protect my business and employees but also my family. LifeSearch* enjoys preferential terms from insurance companies, across the whole market, due to its size and so can guarantee to beat any quote.

More importantly, as LifeSearch is independent, it can offer a tailored service and make recommendations based on your own circumstances, even if that is to say that you do not need keyman insurance for your business. Just fill in the form, via the link above, and they will be in touch to help. There is no obligation at all on your part. However, if you do decide to take out a policy you will also receive £50 cashback.

 

If a link has an * beside it this means that it is an affiliated link. If you go via the link, Money to the Masses may receive a small fee which helps keep Money to the Masses free to use. The following link can be used if you do not wish to help Money to the Masses and do not wish to qualify for the cashback referred to in the article - LifeSearch 

 

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