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Why You Need Key Man Insurance

If you are operating a small business, you are likely relying on a small staff to get the job done.   

Many employees in small firms have to wear many hats and if one of them or an owner should die, the business could suffer greatly from that sudden loss of talent. If you don’t have “key man” or “key person” insurance that setback could be devastating to the viability of your operations as it will provide you with extra funding that you would need while recovering from the loss.  

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. 

Key man insurance basics

Before purchasing coverage give some thought into the effects of possibly losing certain partners or employees on your company.   

Your company would take out life insurance on the key employees, pay the premiums and designate itself as the beneficiary of the policy. If that person unexpectedly dies, your company receives the claim payout.   

This payout would essentially allow your business to stay afloat as you recover from the sudden loss of that employee or partner without whom it will be difficult to keep the business operating in the short term. 

Your 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 other words, in the aftermath of this tragedy, the insurance would give you more options than immediately bankruptcy.  

Determining whom to cover

Ask yourself: Who is irreplaceable in the short term?  

For most small firms that would be the owner, who likely wears many hats including bookkeeping, management of day-to-day operations and handling important clients. If the business loses someone doing so much, operations would likely grind to a halt.  

In many small businesses it is the founder 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.   

Determining amount of coverage 

  • The amount of coverage depends on your business and revenue.  
  • 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. 
  • Ask us to get some quotes from different insurers. 
  • Check rates for different levels of coverage ($100,000, $500,000, etc.) 

VMA, the print and creative agency trade association for Northern California since 1938, can help you with key man insurance or other insurances needs to help protect your small business. Contact shannon@visualmediaalliance.org or 415-710-0568 today for more information.  

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