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Carl Gerhardt

Business Sense & Sensibility

By Carl Gerhardt

About Carl

Carl Gerhardt is the chairman of Allegra Network, one of the world’s largest print, marketing and graphic communications franchisors, linking more than 500 locations in North America under the brands Allegra, Signs Now, Insty-Prints, and American Speedy Printing.

Carl and his wife, Judy, owned and operated their own successful Allegra Network franchise for nearly 20 years before selling the $2.3 million operation in 2003. He is a PrintImage International/NAQP Honorary Lifetime Member and was inducted into NAPL’s prestigious Soderstrom Society in 2010 in recognition of his contribution to the industry.

Are You Better Off Dead?

Sorry if that title sounds somewhat harsh. But the truth is, when serious injury occurs, many small business families are not financially prepared. This is a conclusion that I have reached from visiting with owners of graphic arts businesses about their risk analysis and estate plan.

You may think that it’s something that doesn’t happen very often. You suffer an illness or injury that prevents you from working for an extended period of time—six months, a year...even five years. Sounds rare, doesn’t it? It’s not.

Fact: On average, you have a one-in-five chance of becoming disabled between the ages of 35 and 65. You have a one-in-seven chance of becoming disabled for at least a five-year term before you turn 65. If you are 30, you have a one-in-three chance of incurring a long-term (at least 90 days) disability before you turn 60. At age 40, the odds are three in 10. At 50, it’s less than one in five.

You actually have a far greater chance of becoming disabled during your working career than you do of dying. The chances of suffering a disability vs. death are more than six times greater for younger workers. Yet, far more printing business owners buy life insurance than maintain a policy that can replace income lost because of a disability. Disability insurance is relatively affordable and should really be a part of any small business owner’s risk analysis planning.

Have you really thought about who could keep the business running if you were no longer able to actively work in the business? If you have a partner that is active in the business or if you have created a succession plan and are well on the way to executing it, the disability problem may not be so critical. Still, protecting the financial well-being of your family with a well-considered disability insurance policy is most always a good investment. Doing the same thing for key employees is equally as important. When I owned my Allegra center, I carried a disability policy on two key employees.

I don’t intend for this to seem like an insurance commercial. Too often, we get so caught up in running the day-to-day business that we overlook some very important things. When we are young, we assume we will live forever and always able to care for ourselves or loved ones. When we are older, we gamble on riding out the remaining years before tragedy strikes.

Don’t be caught in a situation where your family would be not financially stable if you were unable to work because you failed to plan. If you have not done so, contact your insurance professional and/or estate planner and see what you need to do to protect your family. You want them to be as well off as they are now, if you become disabled.

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