When David Burros finally learned about disability insurance, it was too late to save his family's business. Ten years ago, his mother lost her antiques business after suffering a debilitating stroke. Burros, now a certified financial planner and CEO of Burros Consulting & Speaking, a personal and financial planning and consulting firm in Denver, advises his clients to learn from his experience and protect their businesses before it's too late.

"Your greatest asset isn't your business but rather your ability to create wealth," he says. "You can lose everything else, and you'll get it all back again if you have the ability to work. That's why disability insurance is the first kind of insurance business owners should consider."

Burros recommends purchasing long-term disability insurance to protect yourself from business loss resulting from a disability that lasts longer than 90 days. The price of your policy depends on the risks associated with your business, says Burros, but a business owner will typically pay approximately 3 percent of his or her after-tax income for a policy that provides coverage until age 65. In the event of a long-term disability claim, payments will be roughly equivalent to the after-tax income you achieved before your disability and are not subject to being taxed themselves.

To save money on your long-term disability policy, you can play the odds by purchasing a policy that ends before you reach age 65. Ninety-seven percent of all long-term disabilities last less than five years, according to Burros. "If you really need to save money, cover yourself for just five years," he says. "You're likely to be back to work within that time."

Playing The Odds

Chances are slim that you or a key employee will die or face permanent disability while working at your company. That's why policies to guard against these conditions are so affordable. Short-term disability--an inability to work for 90 days or less--is far more common. A nasty flu that develops into a bronchial infection or an automobile accident that leaves you temporarily disabled are just a few examples. So a policy that covers business loss resulting from short-term disability makes sense, right?

Wrong. According to Denver financial planner David Burros, short-term disabilities are so common, and the insurance to cover business loss so expensive, that buying these policies just doesn't make good financial sense. "I recommend anticipating these occurrences and being able to self-fund the impact to the business," Burros says. "For most businesses, that will be the most cost-effective use of their resources."

Contact Sources

Burros Consulting & Speaking, (800) 440-2430, dbcohr@aol.com

Claire Tristram is a business and technology writer in San Jose, California.