Why Short-Term Insurance Is Not The Only Insurance SMEs Should Be Considering

Short-term insurance recently became one of the talking points of the July lootings after thousands of SMEs were affected by the riots, suffering loss and damage to assets. In the hopes of keeping these businesses afloat, the National Treasury announced that the South African Special Risks Insurance Association (Sasria) will be paying out R3.9 billion to small businesses, including SMEs that are not insured. Sasria is the only insurer in South Africa that covers riots.

The riots underscored the importance of having insurance for other situations that SMEs can’t protect themselves against, such as fires and acts of nature. In addition to insuring the business’ physical assets, however, business owners also need to remember that they themselves are their company’s most important assets and should be covered too. Insurance becomes important when businesses and individuals experience some kind of loss, and no loss is more acute than that of the business owner. This is where life insurance comes in, in the form of contingent liability insurance for major debts, cover for buy-and-sell agreements and keyperson insurance. However, the affordability of cover could be a stumbling block for many business owners.

According to Schalk Malan, Chief Executive Officer at needs-matched insurer BrightRock, traditional business assurance policies are more often than not structured in the same form as personal life insurance policies.

“There tends to be a single capitalised block of cover for all needs, and this cover is priced for the maximum term. This cover structure is not necessarily in the best interest of the small business owner, because the cover increases as your needs decrease – leading to cost inefficiency in the way premiums are structured.”

This is why BrightRock decided to follow a more flexible approach, allowing business owners to invest more funds in their businesses, or allocate the savings to more cover in the event of underinsurance.

Malan explains: “By structuring business owners’ cover to meet their exact needs, you can remove premium waste and save money from the payment of their first premiums. This approach allows advisers to tailor business owners’ cover over time to match the profile of their needs.”

But what to do in the event where the business’ growth exceeds expectations, leaving the business owner with a desire to increase his cover?

“Standard BrightRock policies automatically have access to an extra cover buy-up account, to access more cover later in the business’ lifetime without any medical underwriting,” notes Malan.

Long-term insurance for a small business: What should be covered?
Contingent liability insurance for major debtsLong-term insurance for buy and sell agreementsKeyperson insurance
A shareholder of a company often has to sign surety as co-principal debtor or provide personal security for a loan taken out by the business. The business incurs a liability if this person becomes permanently disabled or dies, and business is unable to repay the loan. Contingent liability insurance taken out by the company on the life of the shareholder solves this problem. A buy-and-sell agreement will ensure that remaining co-owners of the business can purchase the interest of another business owner in the event of their death or permanent disability. It also ensures that the estate of the deceased business owner receives fair value for his or her business interest, as well as the settlement of his or her credit loan account. Life insurance policies ensure that the remaining owners have the necessary liquidity to be able to do this. 
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