When Orville Aarons, a commercial and investment banker with 20 years' worth of experience, decided to set up his own financial-advisory company in Washington, Conn., in 1994, he suffered a painful shock: "I had to look in a myriad of places just to obtain what I would consider minimal insurance coverage for myself as a small-business owner. I couldn't get certain kinds of coverage at all, including an adequate level of business-interruption or long-term-disability coverage."

Countless entrepreneurs, especially those in home-based businesses, have found themselves similarly pressed to find comprehensive insurance -- at any price. But Aarons found a solution: membership in the recently launched Independent Business Alliance.

The New York City-based group (membership costs $24; call 800-450-2422) offers small-business owners access to health, disability, and life insurance at lower group rates typically reserved for corporations and trade unions. Aarons estimates he'll save at least $500 a year, and, finally, he's covered for long-term disability.