6 Factors to Consider When Selecting Shareholder Protection Insurance

In the world of business finance, protecting the interests of shareholders is necessary. They provide the capital, share the risk, and contribute to the company’s success. But what happens if a key shareholder becomes disabled, decides to leave the company or even dies? Shareholder protection insurance can be a lifesaver in such situations, ensuring business continuity and protecting the financial well-being of remaining shareholders. However, with various shareholder protection insurance options available, choosing the right policy can be overwhelming. In this article, I will guide you to consider six crucial factors when selecting shareholder protection insurance for your business.

What is Shareholder Protection insurance?

Shareholder protection insurance safeguards the financial stability of a business by providing liquidity in the event of a key shareholder’s death or critical illness. This insurance policy ensures the remaining shareholders can maintain business continuity, acquire the deceased/ill shareholder’s shares, and prevent external parties from gaining unwanted control. Let’s discuss the factors to consider when selecting shareholder protection insurance:

1. Understanding Your Shareholder Agreement

A well-defined shareholder agreement is the foundation for effective shareholder protection. This document outlines the rights and responsibilities of each shareholder, including:

  • Share Transfer Restrictions: These provisions dictate how shares can be bought, sold, or transferred within the company or to external parties. Shareholder protection insurance becomes particularly important if restrictions exist, as it provides a pre-determined value and a smoother transition process.
  • Funding Options for Share Purchase: The agreement should outline how the remaining shareholders will finance the purchase of the deceased/ill shareholder’s shares. Shareholder protection insurance offers a guaranteed source of funds to fulfill this obligation.
  • Valuation Mechanism: The agreement should establish a method for valuing shares in the event of a triggering event. This valuation should be fair and objective to avoid disputes among remaining shareholders. Some shareholder protection plans can integrate with the valuation mechanism outlined in the agreement.

A thorough review of your shareholder agreement alongside your insurance broker will ensure your chosen insurance policy aligns with the established procedures for shareholding transitions.

2. Identifying Your Insurance Needs

Shareholder protection cover comes in various forms, each addressing specific needs. Here are the most common types:

  • Key Person Insurance: This policy ensures the life or health of a shareholder considered essential to the company’s success. The death or critical illness of a key person can significantly impact the business, and the insurance payout helps the company cope with the loss and maintain stability.
  • Entity-on-Life (EOL) Insurance: This policy insures the business itself on the lives of its shareholders. The payout goes directly to the company, providing the necessary funds to purchase the deceased/ill shareholder’s shares from the remaining shareholders.
  • Shareholder Buy-Sell Agreements Funded by Life Insurance: This approach involves individual life insurance policies for each shareholder. Upon a triggering event, the deceased/ill shareholder’s policy pays out to the remaining shareholders, providing them with the funds to purchase the deceased/ill shareholder’s shares.

Understanding the roles and contributions of each shareholder will help determine the most suitable insurance type.

3. Financial Strength and Reputation of the Insurance Provider

Selecting a financially secure and reputable insurance carrier is critical. Here are some key aspects to consider:

  • AM Best Rating: AM Best is a leading insurance credit rating agency. Look for an insurer with a strong AM Best rating, indicating their financial stability and ability to meet future claims.
  • Track Record: Research the insurance company’s history of handling shareholder protection claims. Choose a company with a proven track record of efficiently settling claims.
  • Customer Service: Evaluate the insurer’s reputation for customer service. Opt for an insurer that provides prompt, professional, and helpful assistance throughout the policy lifecycle.

By choosing a reliable insurance Broker provider, you can ensure your business receives the necessary financial support when needed.

4. Cost and Premiums

Shareholder protection plans can vary significantly in cost depending on several factors, including:

  • Type of Insurance: Key person insurance is generally more expensive than EOL insurance as it focuses on a single individual’s impact on the business.
  • Age and Health of Shareholders: Younger and healthier shareholders will have lower premiums compared to older or shareholders with pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Coverage Amount: The higher the sum insured, the higher the premium.

It’s crucial to find the right balance between affordability and adequate coverage. Work with your insurance broker to compare quotes and select a plan that fits your budget while offering sufficient financial protection.

5. Claim Exclusions and Limitations

Understanding the exclusions and limitations of a shareholder protection policy is crucial before finalizing the purchase.

  • Pre-existing Conditions: Some policies may exclude coverage for deaths or illnesses arising from pre-existing medical conditions if they are not disclosed during the application process.
  • Suicide: Most policies exclude suicide within a specific period (typically one or two years) after policy inception.
  • Certain Activities: Policies may exclude coverage for deaths resulting from high-risk activities like extreme sports or participation in dangerous hobbies.

6. Flexibility and Tax Implications

  • Flexibility and Policy Modifications: As your business grows and evolves, your shareholder protection needs may change. Look for a policy that allows for adjustments in coverage amounts, beneficiaries, or even conversion to a different insurance type as needed.
  • Tax Implications: Discuss the tax implications of shareholder protection insurance with your accountant. In some cases, premiums may be tax-deductible as a business expense, and the death benefit payout may be received tax-free by the remaining shareholders or the company (depending on the policy type).

By considering these factors, you can ensure your chosen shareholder protection plan offers the necessary level of flexibility and aligns with your overall tax strategy.


Shareholder protection insurance provides invaluable peace of mind for business owners and investors. A well-chosen plan safeguards the company’s financial stability during unforeseen circumstances and fosters a sense of security among shareholders. By carefully considering the factors outlined above, you can select a shareholder protection plan that effectively meets your business’s specific needs and ensures a smooth transition in the event of a triggering event.

Sophia Anderson

Sophia Anderson is a blogger and a freelance writer. She is passionate about covering topics on money, business, careers, self-improvement, motivation and others. She believes in the driving force of positive attitude and constant development.