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You’ve likely pursued traditional business insurance. But when it comes to protecting your business from a myriad of outside threats in today’s complex and ever-changing environment, is traditional insurance enough — or even the right fit?
With the hardening of the insurance market and costly premiums, it’s a timely question, especially as more and more businesses are looking to alternative risk transfer. And an increasingly trending option is captive insurance as worldwide more than 100 captives formed last year as reported by Business Insider.
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Background of traditional and captive insurance
Traditional insurance has built up a portfolio of coverage offerings and options for businesses. Some components of traditional insurance include risk distribution, tax deductibles on premiums and many blanket insurance coverages such as general liability insurance, business income insurance and worker compensation insurance.
Captive insurance is a wholly owned subsidiary that exists to protect your business from unique threats and provide the dynamic and unique plan your business needs. Captive insurance may be right for your business if it can’t receive the insurance coverage it needs from the traditional insurance market.
For instance, business interruption insurance is a coverage that insulates your business from disasters such as floods and earthquakes. This coverage does not, however, protect businesses from fires or tornadoes — and to activate this insurance, there must be an event that “triggers” your policy.
Businesses that shut down during the pandemic lost money while they were closed, and they needed to be fully shut down to trigger their business interruption policies. With captive insurance, however, businesses can access their stored cash reserves and cover losses during instances of extended partial shutdowns that are not covered in a traditional insurance policy. Unlike this policy language with its many coverage exclusions, captive policy language is geared to protect the business owner.
Captive insurance also doesn’t penalize for other firms’ bad behavior and the cost you pay for insurance isn’t based on other similar businesses filing claims. Other considerations for possibly leaving traditional insurance are in the hardening of premiums, and companies looking to have less expensive coverage.
Keeping that in mind, companies seeking more control over their current coverages and insurance programs can craft a bespoke insurance plan built around their business’s unique risk profile with their captive plan.
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Premiums aren’t a sunk cost with captives
High premiums with traditional insurance providers can handcuff your business to hardening monthly rates and can leave your business feeling the impact of those high expenses. With captive insurance, however, your business can retain profits when claims aren’t paid.
These retained profits see deferment of taxes on loss reserves as well, allowing for the accumulation of a larger pool of funds for investment or unforeseen financially impactful situations such as litigation. These funds can also be utilized to insulate your business from losses during economic downturns or similarly fiscally challenging situations.
For a small business, this can help with scalability as expensive premiums paid with traditional providers can mean less money spent on expanding your business. Additionally, as your business scales in size and needs, so do the coverages required for your business to be adequately protected. Comparatively, Kiplinger pointed out that captive insurance can provide these necessary adaptive coverages as the need for them comes up along the way.
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Policy differences and FAQs
If your business faces potential cyberattacks, medical malpractice suits and many other costly risks, the deductibles associated with these protections are growing with traditional providers. Premiums for cyber insurance have increased by as much as 50% and 100%.
Relating back to the earlier example, flexibility in captive insurance policy language would help. As evidenced by the civil unrest of 2020, whereby areas of the country experienced protests, riots and sit-ins that destroyed neighborhoods. If the area around a business was damaged and inaccessible, but the business itself was not, again, the traditional insurance policy would not be triggered, meaning your business can be left paying out of pocket.
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So how much time does it take to create a new policy?
With constant changes in what businesses need in their insurance protections, traditional insurance providers can often be behind the curve. Where new threats form, it also means new policies need to be made to cover vulnerable parts of your business.
According to Deloitte, traditional insurance takes 12 to 18 months to create and release new insurance products. With the rate at which threats arise and can potentially harm your business, that is not an acceptable timeframe.
Additionally, when buying traditional insurance coverage, startup costs are limited to the premium. Starting a captive insurance company, however, requires start-up costs and capitalization requirements with formation fees including legal costs. This is because a captive insurance company is a legally formed corporation. Additionally, with captive insurance, you are building upon your risk mitigation strategies to accrue funds for potential losses.
While forming a captive may be daunting to a non-insurance professional, there are many captive management companies that will serve as a business owner’s insurance front office, that help companies form and manage their own wholly owned captives.
Captive insurance can be a viable option for businesses large and small. Businesses best served by implementing captive insurance are those with complex, evolving, difficult or costly risks to insure through traditional plans and those who would benefit from increased cash flow, liquidity and profitability. Traditional insurance and captive insurance both have distinct features and one isn’t necessarily a better fit than the other. Regardless of what you choose, protecting your business with the right insurance plan is a necessity.