When its owner for more than four decades passed away suddenly, Troy Belting and Supply Co. in Watervliet, NY, could have collapsed, as do many family businesses that lose their leaders.

Instead, the company continued to operate and grow, thanks in part to a succession plan funded by life insurance.

“We were able to keep operating the company and retain every one of our workers because my father had the foresight to put a succession plan in place that protected not only his family but also the livelihoods of all of our employees,” said Jason Smith, who succeeded his late father in

2003. “Whole life insurance was a critical part of that plan.”

Whole life insurance and business succession 

“Most business owners realize that they will be forced to deal with issues such as business succession at some point, which is why they want to have a plan that’s guaranteed to be there when they need it,” says Kelley Gay, assistant vice president, market development, U.S. Insurance Group at MassMutual. “The versatility, guarantees, and permanence of whole life insurance can help solve some of these inevitable challenges.”

Whole life insurance can, for example:

Protect a business or business owner from financial loss – including the loss of control of a part of the business – as a result of the death of a partner or co-owner. As part of a buysell agreement, the policy’s death benefit can be used to help purchase the deceased partner’s shares from his or her estate.

Protect a business from loss as a result of the death of a key employee. The policy’s death benefit can provide a cushion that enables the company to continue operating while seeking a replacement.

Be used as a highly valued employee benefit for key personnel whose loved ones can benefit from permanent, guaranteed coverage in the event of the employee’s death. In addition, the employee may be able to draw upon the policy’s cash value through loans to help supplement income in retirement.*

Financial flexibility 

Furthermore, as long as the policy is kept in force, the cash value of a whole life insurance policy can give businesses the flexibility to manage through the ups and downs of the business life cycle by providing funds to respond to expected and unexpected challenges and opportunities. A whole life insurance policy’s cash value can be used as:

A source of cash when credit is tight for circumstantial or external reasons.

A source of emergency funds to pay for replacement or temporary talent if a key employee leaves, becomes disabled or retires.

A “bookable” asset on the company’s balance sheet.

And it’s not an all-or-nothing decision. Many smaller or younger businesses may opt for quality, convertible term life insurance, so that as they grow and additional cash becomes available, they’re able to bridge to the broader benefits of whole life.

To view Jason Smith and his mother tell the Troy Belting and Supply Co. story, and for more 

information on how whole life insurance can help business owners, visit www.massmutual.com/customervoices/business. 

© 2010 Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company. 

By Ryan V. Glaze, a financial representative with Seymour & Associates, a MassMutual agency; courtesy of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). 

Distributions under the policy (including cash dividends and partial/full surrenders) are not subject

to taxation up to the amount paid into the policy (cost basis). If the policy is a Modified

Endowment Contract, policy loans and/or distributions are taxable to the extent of gain and are

subject to a 10% tax penalty. While the policy allows for loans, you should know that there may

be little to no cash value available for loans in the policy’s early years. Access to cash values

through borrowing or partial surrenders will reduce the policy’s cash value and death benefit,

increase the chance the policy will lapse, and may result in a tax liability if the policy terminates

before the death of the insured. Ryan Glaze is insurance licensed in limited localities.