You and your business partner or partners have a clear and common vision of how to run your business, where it’s going, and how it’s going to get there. As a team, you’ve worked together each and every day to share the daily demands and shape the success of your business. That said, have you thought about what would become of the business and all your hard work if you or one of your partners became ill, was injured, or died?
A business doesn’t have to become disabled or die just because one of the owners retires, dies, or becomes too sick or disabled to work. Whether the transition of business management or ownership needs to take place after death or during life, it can be orderly accomplished through appropriate business succession planning.
A buy-sell agreement is a tool commonly used in business succession planning. This planning feature, when correctly funded and designed, can orderly establish the value at which the business will be taken over and who will be doing the taking over. The owner can have a peace of mind from knowing that the business has a predetermined basis for which it can be sold in a ready market, thereby giving the owner a source of funds when they need it, such as when they are ready to retire. If the owner was to die prior to the above predetermined basis occurring, then the buy-sell can be used to meet the survivor’s needs or pay hefty estate taxes.
Although there are several ways that a buy-sell agreement can be established, an entity purchase agreement and cross purchase are the two most often used:
Due to favorable tax results, this is a highly used approach by many small businesses. It’s generally used by businesses that only have a small number of owners. The cross purchase is typically funded with a life and/or disability insurance policy that each of the owners must maintain on their co-owners. The death benefits from the life insurance policy aren’t subject to taxation since the owners, not the business, actually own the individual life insurance policies. Each of the business owners are legally obligated to purchase the ownership interest of the other co-owner(s) upon death.
The deceased owner’s estate sells the owner’s interest to the surviving owners in exchange for the proceeds from the life insurance policy. The surviving owners will get a step-up in the business’s tax basis. Alternatively, the insurance cash value can also be used if one of the co-owners was to need to fund a buyout during their lifetime. One point to remember regarding a cross purchase is that administration is smoothest when there are only a limited number of owners and will become increasingly difficult to administer as the number of owners increase.
Entity Purchase Agreement
This type of buy-sell agreement works somewhat like the cross purchase, but it’s the business, not the owners, that will maintain an insurance policy on each owner and agree to purchase any deceased owner’s interest in the business. As such, the taxation is different.
The death benefits under both an entity purchase and cross purchase agreement, whether being paid to the business or an individual, are exempt from federal income taxation. However, unlike with the cross purchase, there are certain situations that a C corporation can be subject to the corporate alternative minimum tax under an entity purchase. There’s also not a step-up in basis under the entity purchase plan.
Hopefully this brief overview of the entity purchase and cross purchase types of buy-sell agreements has spurred you to think about how vitally important business succession planning is to your business. Of course, this short article couldn’t possibly cover all the factors to consider when developing a business succession plan. As you begin the preparations for you business succession plan with your attorney, accountant, and insurance agent, they should be able to answer any additional questions or concerns you might have.
Modern technology has made it easier than ever for employees to work from home and still remain connected to their place of employment. Using remote employment has actually become a popular trend over the last ten years, especially since selling to the global market has become such an important factor in a business being competitive. Many businesses have found that they can minimize their expenses and attract international customers with more attractive prices if they decrease their overhead by allowing workers to remotely commute.
Despite the many benefits of using remote employees, there are downsides. Many employers considering this trend wonder how they can ensure workplace safety when the employee’s physical workplace is their own home. Another consideration is the degree of employer liability in remote employment.
Fortunately, OSHA has addressed some of the safety issues surrounding remote employment. According to OSHA guidelines, employers are required to maintain a safe workplace, even for employees working from their own home. OSHA will not require an employer to inspect a remote employee’s home worksite, nor inspect it themselves.
However, OSHA may inspect the worksite of an employee that’s performing an at-home job on behalf of their employer if it possibly involves health or safety hazards and there’s a complaint. A record of all occupational illnesses and injuries must be kept on all at-home workers if an employer is subject to OSHA record keeping requirements. Keeping in mind that OSHA compliance measures shouldn’t involve controlling the home worksite of employees, employers might need to take some additional practical measures to ensure OSHA compliance.
As far as safety compliance goes, the absence of immediate supervision for remote workers is one of the main problems employers face. Experienced, highly-trained, long-term employers are generally the worst offenders when it comes to taking safety risks. This group of employees often become complacent due to the fact they’re so accustomed and comfortable with their job, feel they’re familiar with the job’s hazards, and might have escaped disciplinary action when ignoring safety procedures or taking shortcuts in the past.
One of the best ways that employers can counteract the above dangerous attitude toward safety is by using a holistic approach to safety. Employers should focus and place great importance on each individual employee actively participating in the safety process and taking responsibility for their own safety. Whether at home, on the road, or at a remote jobsite, remote employees need to be ready, willing, and able to take the appropriate actions to protect themselves in any given situation.
Employers will need employee support to make any approach to safety successful, which means that employers must have total employee involvement in the safety process. Involve your remote employees in the process of determining what’s needed to prevent injury to themselves and others during remote location work. Most employers find that the experience and firsthand knowledge of their employees is actually very advantageous in creating safe remote worksites.
Remember, employees that understand the value of safety are more likely to be motivated and willing participants. They’re also more apt to embrace safety behaviors for the longevity of their employment. Employers can reinforce their employee’s positive attitude about safety by having electronic or person-to-person safety counseling in place and ensuring safety managers are encouraging safety participation.
When you face what appears to be a minor claim, have you ever been tempted just to handle it yourself? After all, the loss is minimal, and you’re “saving” your insurance coverage for when you really need it. Some contractors also feel that filing too many small claims could increase the risk of losing the policy, or driving up their premium.
However, there’s more to consider. Bear in mind that every policy contains language to the effect that “No insured will, except at that insured’s own cost, voluntarily make a payment, assume any obligation, or incur any expense, other than for first aid, without our consent.” This means that that if you pay a small claim yourself, and anything goes wrong, the insurance company can say, “You’re on your own.”
For example, suppose someone walks through your job site and steps on a nail. It appears to be a minor puncture wound, and you agree to pick up the cost of an emergency room visit. You might feel that you’ve closed this incident quickly. However, a few weeks later, the injured person calls to say they have a raging infection in their foot and the doctor is checking them into the hospital for what proves to be a long and expensive stay.
If you then report this claim to your insurance company for the first time, will they step in and take over, or tell you that since you never informed them of the incident they’re not responsible? Even if the insurance company pays the claim, you’ve run an unnecessary risk.
What you should have done – as the policy wording suggests – is to inform your insurance company immediately and ask its consent for you to pay the claim. This approach would have made a substantial difference because notifying the company of the claim fulfills your obligations under the policy.
Why go it alone when you have a partner waiting to help?
Agricultural workers are at a serious risk of injury or death when installing, climbing into, fumigating, entering, filling or emptying a silo. Because of the nature of the conditions present, workers may be exposed to hazards such as a lack of oxygen, toxic gases and grain entrapment.
To reduce worker risk of injury, properly train workers and remind them frequently of the following safety recommendations:
- Avoid entering a silo unless it is absolutely necessary.
- Complete tasks outside of the silo whenever possible.
- Have a coworker close by in case of an emergency.
- Never smoke or cause sparks near a silo, especially if the air humidity is low.
- Wear respiratory protection when appropriate.
- Stand at a safe distance when filling or emptying a silo.
- Use an approved fall restraint system and harness when climbing a silo.
- Ventilate a fumigating silo before entering.
- Conduct regular safety inspections of silos.
For more farm and ranch safety tips, contact Scurich Insurance today.
Continuity is critical in business, and there are few things more important than continuous revenue and cash flow, particularly for small to medium-sized organizations. In fact, just one brief business interruption can be incredibly costly for an organization, often leading to serious reputational damages or long-term closures.
That’s where business interruption insurance can help. This form of coverage provides protection against a variety of common interruptions, including natural disasters, equipment damage and vandalism.
Claims Scenario: You’re Fired
The company: A small, family-owned bagel shop.
The challenge: Following a recent fire, a bagel shop experienced major property damage. Not only were substantial repairs needed, the company lost crucial baking equipment.
Repairs for the damaged property and equipment were expected to take three months – a significant amount of lost time and revenue.
Business interruption insurance in action: Following a covered disruption, business interruption insurance can help businesses of all sizes stay afloat and recover quickly. This is because business interruption insurance can reimburse income organizations would have received had they been able to operate.
This was particularly important for the bagel shop, as paying for costly repairs and not having a steady flow of income could have bankrupted the business. With the right policy, organizations can take the necessary steps to get back up and running, all without sacrificing day-to-day income.
Claims Scenario: Relocation, Relocation, Relocation
The company: A mid-sized auto dealership.
The challenge: After a night of severe flooding, a number of area businesses experienced substantial water damage. Of these businesses, an auto dealership was hit the hardest, losing the majority of its inventory.
In addition, because the lot was flooded, the dealership had to move its operations to a new location. This, in turn, meant the dealership had to sign a new lease and cover steep moving expenses.
Business interruption insurance in action: In the face of a disaster or other disruptions, organizations may be forced to move locations in order to remain open. Without the proper policy, organizations would have to pay for these costs out of pocket.
Thankfully, business interruption insurance can reimburse organizations for all of the costs associated with a move.
Benefits of Business Interruption Insurance
- Revenue – In the event of a disruption, business interruption insurance provides coverage for income your business would have earned during a closure period if it had been operating normally.
- Rent or lease payments – Even if your premises are unusable following a disaster or other event, many leases still require that you make payments. Business interruption insurance allows you to continue making rent or lease payments, even while your business is not operating.
- Relocation – In the event that your primary location is unusable following a disaster or other event, you will likely have to relocate in order to remain open and continue generating revenue. Business interruption insurance can cover the expenses of moving your business to a temporary location and may include both moving and rent costs.
- Employee wages – If you are unable to operate, it is likely you will not be able to continue paying employees. Business interruption insurance can help you avoid losing staff while you’re closed by ensuring that you make payroll.
- Loan payments – If you have an outstanding loan, you will need to continue to make payments even if your business isn’t fully operational. Business interruption insurance will ensure you never miss a payment until you are fully operational again.
One of the biggest factors that goes into your workers’ compensation premiums are the classification codes for each type of work done at your business. Each of these codes has an associated loss cost that represents the expected amount insurers will need to pay for a claim. And even though each of these costs are standardized by the National Council on Compensation Insurance or state governments, your actual premiums may be higher because of a concept called loss cost multipliers.
What are Loss Cost Multipliers?
Standard loss costs are the amount insurers pay for a policy’s coverage, such as medical care, prescriptions and lost wages. However, many insurers face significant overhead costs when handling a claim and transfer these charges to policyholders with loss cost multipliers. Essentially, these multipliers reflect an insurance carrier’s expenses, such as:
- Taxes, licenses and fees
- Sales and marketing charges
- Rent and utilities
Because each insurer operates differently, they all need to file separate loss cost multipliers with state insurance agencies. But, since multipliers alter standard loss costs and can vary greatly between different insurers, businesses may discover unexpectedly high premiums.
How Multipliers Impact Your Premiums
To determine a standard premium, insurers first take the loss cost for a specific employee classification code and factor in their unique loss cost multiplier. This figure is called the rate, which is then applied to your payroll to calculate a standard premium.
Insurers also weigh other factors to determine your final premium, such as your experience modification rate. However, because some insurers have loss cost multipliers of 2.0 or more, standard premiums have a significant impact on the final price of your policy.
How to Save on Workers’ Compensation
Although it may seem strange to pay for another company’s expenses through loss cost multipliers, there are still ways to save on workers’ compensation:
- Look up each insurer’s multiplier on your state insurance agency’s website when you buy or renew a policy.
- See if insurers use separate loss cost multipliers for different employee classification codes.
- Check with insurers to determine if they use various underwriting companies with unique loss cost multipliers.
- Call us at 831-661-5697 to discuss all of your workers’ compensation needs.