Corporate law

Coronavirus: ensuring your business is protected during uncertain times

Businesses up and down the UK have faced a battle to survive as the coronavirus lockdown resulted in plummeting customer demand and the shutdown of millions of business premises. Some industries have suffered more than others, with the retail, hospitality and leisure industries taking a massive financial hit. Here we discuss ways to protect your business and your employees at this challenging time.

While the government’s financial support measures have provided vital assistance to millions of businesses, many more have fallen through the cracks of eligibility criteria, or the help simply hasn’t come quickly enough. 

During the last few months, businesses have faced losing key employees to COVID-19 or self-isolation at the moment they needed them most. In the current climate, your employees are essential to keeping your business running. Their skills, knowledge and understanding of how your business ticks are hugely important to getting through the crisis intact. 

There are two key groups of insurance that can help protect your business and employees from financial losses resulting from illness and death.

  • Policies that protect your business against financial losses resulting from the death or illness of a key staff member or business partner, and 
  • Insurance that provides financial assistance to employees and their families in the event of their death or inability to work. 

Protecting your business

When might I need shareholder/partnership protection insurance? 

Shareholder or partnership protection cover insures a business against the loss of a shareholder or key business partner, which would likely leave the remaining business owners in a precarious position. With limited companies or partnerships, the main risk is that the deceased owner’s share in the business will be passed on to a family member, who may have little interest in taking over their role. 

Essentially, shareholder or partnership protection insurance is a life insurance policy that pays out to the surviving business owners, based on an agreement that they will use the money to purchase the deceased’s outstanding shares in the business.

The cover you take out will depend on your business structure: 

Shareholder protection is designed for limited companies, with the life insurance taken out on the lives of the company’s shareholders.

Partnership protection is designed for partnerships and limited liability partnerships, with the life insurance taken out on the lives of the business partners. 

The policy might also include critical illness cover, in the event that a partner or shareholder does not wish to continue their involvement in running the business following their treatment or recovery from a serious illness.

Is key person insurance appropriate for my business?

Key person insurance protects businesses against the financial losses incurred if a ‘key’ employee becomes ill or dies while working for the company. This could be a CEO, business partner or senior employee considered essential to the successful running of the business. A payout from this kind of insurance can keep a business trading while recruiting for a replacement or undergoing reorganisation. 

Some types of business insurance, such as employers’ liability, are legally required to run a business.  Key person insurance is not one of them, but the loss of a key employee could affect the business in many ways. 

Clients may react negatively or lose confidence in the business, shareholder confidence could plummet, and the skill, knowledge and experience of the key employee may be difficult, or even impossible, to replace. 

Particularly for small businesses, losing a director or head of department could result in the company’s collapse, which is why the financial assistance provided by key person insurance could prove to be a lifeline.

If you and your businesses need legal advice, talk to us today

Protecting your employees

How do my employees benefit from death in service insurance?

Also known as relevant life assurance, death in service is a type of insurance that pays out a tax-free lump sum to an employee’s beneficiaries if they die whilst working for your company. They don’t have to be at work or performing a work-related activity to receive the benefit; they simply have to be on the payroll of your company when they die or are diagnosed with a terminal illness. 

This type of insurance is the second most valued employment benefit after private medical insurance, as can help your employee’s beneficiaries with costs such as funeral arrangements and living expenses at a very difficult time. The lump sum paid out is usually between two and four times the employee’s basic salary. 

How will group private medical insurance benefit my business? 

As mentioned above, group private medical insurance is one of the most popular employee benefits a business can offer, and provides your employees (and often their families) with access to private healthcare services. 

While it is one of the more expensive employee benefits, private healthcare can offer immeasurable advantages –not only to your employees, but to you as a business. Employees will not be forced to take days off to access healthcare appointments, as private facilities usually offer appointments out of hours. They won’t face lengthy waits for appointments or treatment, so they can get better sooner and return to work more quickly. 

The coronavirus crisis has made us all too aware of the strain and pressure the NHS is currently under. The waiting list for appointments, treatments and routine surgical procedures has increased massively and is only getting longer, while there are fears that millions of non-coronavirus patients have already suffered from reduced access to healthcare during lockdown. 

Offering your employees access to private healthcare is therefore a bigger draw than ever and could greatly help you to attract and retain the best talent.

Is permanent health insurance a good option to protect my employees?

Arranging permanent health insurance (or PHI) on behalf of your employees provides protection for them in the event of an injury or long-term illness that renders them unable to work. 

PHI is another name for income protection insurance, but the premiums are paid by the business rather than the individual. The usual payout is between 50% and 75% of an employee’s full salary, potentially until they retire, and it can help your employees continue to pay for key outgoings such as mortgage and childcare costs until they are able to return to work. As such it is often considered by employees to be a more valuable benefit than private medical insurance.

The benefits usually start after a ‘waiting period’ of up to 52 weeks, typically after work-related sickness pay comes to an end. 

The wording of PHI polices from different providers can vary greatly in terms of what exactly they cover, so it’s always best to check the fine print. As an employer, they can benefit you by incentivising your employee to return to work as soon as they are ready, in order to regain 100% of their salary. 

What benefits your employees, benefits your business

Insuring your business and employees against financial loss, illness and death may be an added expense during an already difficult time – but it could be the move that saves your business. 

At Tees, we’re here to discuss your business insurance needs and advise you on which type of policy could deliver the greatest benefits for your business. 

This material is intended to be for information purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument.

Tees is a trading name of Tees Financial Limited which is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered number 211314.

Tees Financial Limited is registered in England and Wales. Registered number 4342506.

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Tees coronavirus update

We’re open and here to help you. We’re running as normal with our employees all working from home.

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You can call us as normal on 0800 013 1165 or email us: hello@teeslaw.com.

You can also find contact details for all our advisers here. 

As a flexible and technologically-adept firm, we already had many home-working systems in place. We have now rolled this technology out to all our employees working for clients, so they can continue to work normally - and from home.

If you are a client, please be assured you can get in touch with Tees and we are still working on your case. To replace face-to-face meetings, we have the facilities to do video-conferencing, conference calls or just speak on the phone, as you need.

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