Captive insurance companies are private insurers that are owned by a parent company. Although a captive insurance company has some of the same benefits of a regular insurance company, captives collect the premiums that a company would have paid over to a regular insurer while taking the responsibility for any claims against the parent company. Captive insurance companies are uniquely situated for certain situations.
(Photo Credit: saveourpostoffice.com)
Manage Risk and Protect Assets
Many businesses have particular needs for risk management because the risk it outside the typical market. In that case, insurance either can’t be purchased or the price is so high that the company is forced to self-insure. In still other cases, the business might have insurance for some risks, but that comes at a cost of premiums and deductibles. This is just the type of risk that sits well with a captive insurance company. Typical general liability insurance seems like a “coverall”, but in reality there are so many exclusions that a business still stands exposed to high risk. That’s where insurance from a captive company can help by filling in the gaps from those exclusions.
Every dollar spent by the company and sent to the captive serves as a $1 reduction in operating business assets. In the event that the business collapses, the company is not at risk of losing those dollars that have been transferred out of company property and over to the captive insurance company. Captive insurance companies are known for accumulating high amounts of assets through reserves and surplus. In certain disaster situations, some of those funds may be available for a business owner. Although a business owner might face some tax consequences of doing so, you can think of those funds as an emergency fund that could be there if you need it. It’s an extra layer of protection that can give a business owner peace of mind.
Exert More Control
Captive insurance companies typically create customized policies for the needs of each specific business. Unlike many commercial policies, policies through captives have the added benefit of drafting the policy in a manner that makes it virtually impossible for third-party claims against the business from being approved. The individualized nature of policies means that protection is aligned directly with business needs rather than generally accepted amounts and terms.
Going through a commercial carrier has another downside: you give up the option to select your own attorney. Defense counsel connected with insurance companies often handle large volumes of cases, taking away that personalized attention for your case. The fact that these counsel handle upwards of 200 cases each year from referrals also calls into question whether that attorney is looking out for your best interests- or the hand that feeds them. Since insurance companies that hire counsel are budget-minded, you also don’t know the quality of attorney you’ll be receiving through the appointment process. With captive insurance carriers, business owners control the captive and therefore maintain control over selection of an attorney.
From a business owner perspective, these few advantages represent big benefits. Guard yourself against risks, protect existing and growing assets, and exercise more control over how things are handle by working with a captive.