Disability Insurance and Small Business: How a Small Business Owner Used Disability Insurance to Stay Afloat While Managing Depression

Sandra ran her own successful insurance agency company for over a decade before it hit her like a ton of bricks – she was chronically depressed and something had to change.

Triggered by a combination of constant stress leading to severe burnout and her 12-year-old son’s recent diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes, Sandra needed some time away from the office to recover and receive treatment. Her depression was absolutely debilitating and could have been devastating to her business and income.

Luckily, Sandra, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, had purchased two disability insurance policies eight years prior that would help her through such a turbulent time. Sandra worked in the insurance industry and had seen just how important it was to protect yourself from a loss of income in case of a debilitating illness or disease.

“We would see the financial devastation that a disability or an untimely death could cause,” Sandra said. “That had a strong impact on me and I wanted my income and my business to be protected.”

Sandra purchased two disability policies: An office overhead insurance policy in the amount of $10,000 per month that protected her business and covered office expenditures for a period of 18 months. The second policy, personal disability insurance, was an income replacement policy that covered her until age 65 or the length of the disability. It protected her personally by providing her with a $10,000 tax-free, monthly income that allowed her to take the time off work that she needed to receive treatment. Sandra was also happy to learn that she could still spend a small amount of time overseeing her business while continuing to receive the benefits.

“Purchasing the policy gave me peace of mind, knowing what could have happened and ultimately what did happen,” she said.

In general, disability insurance, or commonly referred to as DI, pays a claim due to sickness or accident if the insured is unable to work beyond the normal waiting period. As opposed to critical illness insurance, which is paid out in one lump sum, disability insurance is paid out in monthly installments while the insured remains disabled. The policy that Sandra purchased paid disability benefits until she reached age 65.

After months of treatment, Sandra decided to sell her business and start a new business with her husband: one that allowed her the flexibility to spend more time working on her own needs and the needs of her family. Having disability insurance allowed her to make that transition in her own time and without harming her financially – all while working with qualified medical professionals to get help for her depression.

Sandra’s story is not unique. While most working adults like to believe that they are immune to calamity or harm, unfortunately, that is not the case. According to Statistics Canada, 33% of workers between the ages of 30 and 64 will experience a disability for longer than three months. And most disability claims will come from major illnesses, not accidents.

Which disability insurance policy is best for me?

Working with a financial advisor will help you determine what type of living benefits best fits your needs. But we can outline the basics here to get you started.

Short-term disability insurance: Short-term disability insurance will cover the loss of income due to a temporary illness or accident. The tax-free coverage typically extends between six to 26 weeks, and payments begin after your workplace sick leave expires. Usually, but not always, these plans are provided by employers and typically cover up to 70% of your income.

Long-term disability insurance: As the name implies, long-term disability will cover for a longer period of time depending on your policy. Long-term disability insurance provides monthly payments that commence following the elimination period, which is usually 30 to 90 days after the onset of disability, and can continue up to age 65.

Office Overhead Insurance: Office overhead insurance covers your office expenses if you become disabled. Eligible expenses include rent, utilities and staff salaries.

Group Disability Insurance: This type of disability insurance is typically provided through an employer. If the premiums are paid by the employee, the disability benefit is received tax free.

Questions? Reach out if you are interested in exploring which type of disability insurance would best suit your needs.

As always, please feel free to share this article with anyone you think would find it of interest.

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Insurance Planning for Business Owners

For business owners, making sure your business is financially protected can be overwhelming. Business owners face a unique set of challenges when it comes to managing risk. Insurance can play an important role when it comes to reducing the financial impact on your business in the case of uncontrollable events such as disability, critical illness or loss of a key shareholder or employee.

This infographic addresses the importance of corporate insurance.

The 4 areas of  insurance a business owner should take care of are:

  • Health

  • Disability

  • Critical Illness

  • Life

Health: We are fortunate in Canada, where the healthcare system pays for basic healthcare services for Canadian citizens and permanent residents. However, not everything healthcare related is covered, in reality, 30% of our health costs* are paid for out of pocket or through private insurance such as prescription medication, dental, prescription glasses, physiotherapy, etc.

For business owners, offering employee health benefits make smart business sense because health benefits can form part of a compensation package and can help retain key employees and attract new talent.

For business owners that are looking to provide alternative health plans in a cost effective manner, you may want to consider a health spending account.

Disability: Most people spend money on protecting their home and car, but many overlook protecting their greatest asset: their ability to earn income. Unfortunately one in three people on average will be disabled for 90 days or more at least once before the age of 65.

Consider the financial impact this would have on your business if you, a key employee or shareholder were to suffer from an injury or illness. Disability insurance can provide a monthly income to help keep your business running.

Business overhead expense insurance can provide monthly reimbursement of expenses during total disability such as rent for commercial space, utilities, employee salaries and benefits, equipment leasing costs, accounting fees, insurance premiums for property and liability, etc.

Key person disability insurance can be used to provide monthly funds for the key employee while they’re disabled and protect the business from lost revenue while your business finds and trains an appropriate replacement.

Buy sell disability insurance can provide you with a lump sum payment if your business partner were to become totally disabled. These funds can be used to purchase the shares of the disabled partner, fund a buy sell agreement and reassure creditors and suppliers.

Critical Illness: For a lot of us, the idea of experiencing a critical illness such as a heart attack, stroke or cancer can seem unlikely, but almost 3 in 4 (73%) working Canadians know someone who experience a serious illness. Sadly, this can have serious consequences on you, your family and business, with Critical Illness insurance, it provides a lump sum payment so you can focus on your recovery.

Key person critical illness insurance can be used to provide funds to the company so it can supplement income during time away, cover debt repayment, salary for key employees or fixed overhead expenses.

Buy sell critical illness insurance can provide you with a lump sum payment if your business partner or shareholder were to suffer from a critical illness. These funds can be used to purchase the shares of the partner, fund a buy sell agreement and reassure creditors and suppliers.

Life: For a business owner, not only do your employees depend on you for financial support but your loved ones do too. Life insurance is important because it can protect your business and also be another form of investment for excess company funds.

Key person life insurance can be used to provide a lump sum payment to the company on death of the insured so it can keep the business going until you an appropriate replacement is found. It can also be used to retain loyal employees by supplying a retirement fund inside the insurance policy.

Buy sell life insurance can provide you with a lump sum payment if your business partner or shareholder were to pass away. These funds can be used to purchase the shares of the deceased partner, fund a buy sell agreement and reassure creditors and suppliers.

Loan coverage life insurance can help cover off any outstanding business loans and debts.

Reduce taxes & diversify your portfolio, often life insurance is viewed only as protection, however with permanent life insurance, there is an option to deposit excess company funds not needed for operations to provide for tax-free growth (within government limits)  to diversify your portfolio and reduce taxes on passive investments.

Talk to us about helping making sure you and your business are protected.