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.

Carl Gerhardt is the chairman of Alliance Franchise Brands LLC, the parent company of Allegra Network LLC and Sign & Graphics Operations LCC, and a world leader in marketing, visual and graphics communications, linking more than 600 locations in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. The company’s Marketing & Print Division, headquartered in Plymouth, MI, is comprised of Allegra, American Speedy Printing, Insty-Prints, Speedy Printing and Zippy Print brands of marketing, printing, mailing and Web services providers. Its Sign & Graphics Division, headquartered in Columbia, MD, is comprised of Image360, Signs By Tomorrow and Signs Now brands of sign and graphics communications providers.

Carl and his wife, Judy, owned and operated their own successful Allegra 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.

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