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Is self-insurance a good option for your business?

Managing and mitigating risks through insurance is one of the best, most accessible strategies to make sure you’re limiting losses. If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably considered a self-insurance model to cover your risks.

However, before fully taking on risk by way of self-insurance, you should understand how it differs from other insurance structures.

In addition, you need to thoroughly grasp both the benefits and disadvantages that a self-insurance structure comes with and know precisely how to prepare for the best AND worst-case scenarios. 

In this article, you’ll find crucial information about what a self-insurance strategy is, how it compares to other models, and what it is best suited for. You’ll also learn what mechanisms and risk management approaches you need to set in place for your self-insurance model to work as it was intended to.

What is self-insurance?

In the risk management world, self-insurance is when an insured decides not to purchase traditional insurance coverage. The insured therefore chooses to absorb and pay for their losses with their own financial resources. As well, sometimes coverage is not available in the traditional insurance market and the lack of availability means that the insured will need to self-insure these risks (think of terrorism exclusions or flood risks).

This risk management strategy is appropriate for individuals and businesses which can be financially accountable. These individuals and businesses are also generally more engaged in loss prevention as they bear the full cost of each and every one loss.

For these individuals and businesses, the self-insurance model may pay off in the long run by eliminating the administrative fees and profits of a commercial insurer.

What other insurance models are out there?

1. Traditional insurance

The traditional insurance model is the most commonly used technique for individuals or businesses looking to limit losses by transferring risk. Traditional insurance is mainly used to manage the risks that come with large losses. In essence, this risk management technique ensures financial sustainability through insurance coverage in exchange for a premium.

The premium is usually stable, but it is subject to changes in insurance market conditions. While the cost of this insurance management strategy is not negligible, it ensures that individuals and companies can rest easy knowing they are covered.

Differences between traditional insurance and self-insurance

Traditional insurance provides the insured coverage in case of an insured event. In the case of self-insurance, the insured would have to cover the losses themselves.

The downside of traditional insurance is that premiums can fluctuate throughout the years, making it hard for businesses to control their costs. Businesses also need to be aware that a traditional model intends to generate profits for the insurer and generally deters investments in prevention strategies that could save them money in the long run.

On the one hand, self-insured businesses don’t have the disadvantage of fluctuating premiums or the price loading of traditional insurance. However, they don’t have the benefit of being covered by an insurer with large financial resources either. Those opting for self-insurance need to consider accumulating insurance/surplus funds if they desire to mitigate the impact of a large loss on their balance sheet.

2. Hybrid insurance

The hybrid insurance model offers a risk management strategy that falls between self-insurance and traditional insurance. With the hybrid insurance model, the insured can have coverage for certain risks or certain limits, while retaining some other risks through either a deductible or a self-insurance.

This approach is most suitable for individuals or businesses who can closely predict their costs within their self-insured retention.  For the more significant and volatile events, such as a catastrophic event, traditional insurance tends to be better.  This approach allows businesses to more control over their costs and, by proxy, improve risk management strategies.

However, keep in mind that building a solid insurance fund can take several years.  Nonetheless, the hybrid model offers a financially accessible way for businesses to gain financial autonomy in the long term by insuring against large risks. For a hybrid insurance model to work, you must carefully assess what risks need to be insured for and what risks can be absorbed.

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Differences between hybrid insurance and self-insurance

Hybrid insurance offers businesses and individuals with volatile costs the opportunity to limit losses through insurance, while also retaining some of the risk through self-insurance.

It is best suited for companies that cannot fully cover their losses or don’t have a big enough insurance fund at their disposal. The downside is that it requires premium payments and management also needs to pay close attention to risk and prevention.

Self-insurance doesn’t require a premium but still needs to pay close attention to risk management strategies. The disadvantage is that it cannot be used by businesses that are not able to absorb the damage if a catastrophe were to occur.

Why opt for self-insurance?

Statistics show that self-insurance is gaining in popularity, and that is because it offers a series of advantages. Here’s why you should opt for self-insurance.

You want to reduce costs

If you are looking for a sustainable way in which to improve your operating profits, you can try reducing your claims and premium costs.  When you self-insure, you practically eliminate the overhead for insurance policy administration, and you retain the profit expected to be generated by insurers. Choosing a self-insurance also means avoiding annual fluctuations in premium and residual market loadings.

However, keep in mind that while you will be reducing costs overall in the long-term, you should also accumulate an insurance fund to cover and absorb risks.

You want more coverage

Self-insurance also comes with the advantage of full coverage. For example, maybe you’re looking for a particular type of coverage not offered by any commercial insurer. By consciously self-insuring, you then have the ability to evaluate the risk and consider loss controls to mitigate it.

You want to improve prevention strategies

Self-insurance provides all the incentive for your company to improve its risk management and loss prevention. Since you will be accountable for any potential losses, you will understand the necessity (and urgency) of laying out a well-thought risk management strategy. Prevention tools will become your allies against loss, and you will gain (or should gain) a much better understanding of risk

You want to manage your claims

With self-insurance, you will be the one paying your losses, meaning you’ll have the luxury of acting as fast as you can. You won’t have to adhere to any insurance company’s burdensome process, and you’ll be able to manage your own claims.

Be careful though not to fall into the extreme of no rules and have important aspects (or documents) missing. Pay your claims as quickly as possible, but don’t lose sight of the importance of having a robust claims management process in place.

What to consider before making a self-insurance

You can handle volatility

Self-insurance comes with high cost volatility from year to year, leaving the insured exposed in the face of disasters or catastrophes. Thus, in order for your business to sustainably maintain a self-insurance plan, you should plan on accumulating an insurance fund.

You can put in place administrative procedures

Being self-insured means managing and paying your claims. This means you should have administrative procedures and expertise to manage claims.

You have professionals on board

Designing a sustainable and efficient self-insurance plan requires the help of insurance management and risk management professionals. If you want to set your business for long-term success, make sure to reach out to insurance experts who can help you make the right choices.

Consider reaching out to professionals such as the experts from Axxima to help you navigate the intricate world of self-insurance.

Ready for self-insurance?

If you think self-insurance has potential to help your business, reach out to the experts from Axxima. We’ll help you carefully assess the advantages and disadvantages and truly understand if self-insurance is the best option.

If it is, we’ll help you design administrative procedures and plan risk management to have everything run as smoothly as possible.

Reach out today and start your journey to insurance accountability.