When You Self-Insure:
The Latest Trends

TLTR: This article explains the purpose of self-insurance. It discusses the best scenarios to self-insure your business, and discusses the process for self-employed insurance seekers.

Self-insurance is when a person or business sets aside resources, usually a pool of cash, to insure themselves against any accidents, illnesses, or mishaps they may face. Self-insurance is not to be confused with any type of personal insurance provided by an insurance company. And it shouldn’t be used as an alternative for state mandated insurance policies.

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), self-insurance became popular when the Affordable Care Act made it mandatory for all businesses, big and small alike, to . As premiums run high for unnecessary cost on conventional insurance policies, to self-insure was the best solution 

Businesses and employers both benefit when you self-insure, as cost is controlled without affecting the wellbeing of the employees. Your plans also become more flexible than traditional fully insured plans. That is because you have resources you can draw from at your convenience, and the extra money is retained by you 

The lack of normal regulation allows businesses to customize their insurance plan to suit the businesss need. Ultimately, self-insurance is a great money saving technique in risk management.

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Is Self-insurance Right for Your Needs?

Self-insurance is sometimes called a self-funded plan. It is the preferred method for most employees because you can get your money back if you are not subject to certain state requirements. Although prevalent in health care, self-insurance can secure you against any types of damages.  

Business owners can opt for self-insurance if their work is situated moderate-risk areas. For example, you can apply for self-insurance, instead of a flood insurance policy if youoffice area is not known to have heavy rainfalls, but occasional bouts of heavy rain

Why Should you Self-Insure?

  • Provides stop-loss, you are protected if your claim exceeds the expected amount. 
  • Opportunity to receive money back at the end of the year.  
  • Self-insurance is usually not subject to taxes. TurboTax is a good resource if you are looking to deduct premiums in health insurance. After doing so, you can use the saved money for self-insurance.  
  • Self-insurance is not subject to a majority of government regulations 
  • Customize your own plan when you self-insure. 
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Advantages When You Self-Insure

If you find yourself in a situation where you know you’ll need insurance to cover risk but are also aware that paying hefty premiums every month will keep you at a disadvantage, self-insurance is ideal for you. In conclusion, if you set aside money for your risksyou can use that money to pay for damages.  

Self-insurance is demanding in the sense your business needs to be thoroughly assessed for risk exposures. However, this ultimately benefits you because you can implement strategies to avoid risks. In addition, it is an opportunity to know your business better. Lastly, you develop good practices in risk management.  

Lets take an example of a small pick-up vehicle purchased by your business. If your pick-up has a simple job of delivering goods from one location to another within a small radius, a high premium on a monthly basis will not be ideal. Stay in touch with your local car repair shop, figure out a parts shop which can give you a good deal on spare auto parts, and you have just self-insured your business. There is no doubt such practices save great amount of money which can ultimately go towards bettering your business.  

The biggest advantage of self-insurance is that the arrangement is long-term. While it is common for traditional policies to expire, self-insurance money is yours to keep, save, and recover if you never needed to cover damages. The arrangement is permanent, and no unnecessary money escapes your private account simply paying the bills.

How Exactly Does Self Insurance Work?

Self-insurance can be obtained through multiple ways. Find out which self-insurance plan is relevant to you.  

Employer or Company: If your employer is opting for self-insurance as part of your plan, they will set aside a special trust fund. This will help incur claims if the need arises later. These claims are not administered by the employer or the company but by third party administrators (TPA).  

Self-employment: If you are planning self-employment, it is important to protect yourself against unforeseen claims to avoid loss. Always stop loss your business in case damages run so high that even the claim limit doesn’t cover the specific dollar amount.   

Comparing Self-Insurance to Regular Insurance

When you are self-funding your insurance, a company is responsible for paying for its own medical bill directly. Instead of an insurance agency, the abovementioned thirdparty administrators process claims, and runs you through the payment process. Whereas before, your insurance company would take care of the risk, now it is up to you and your thirdparty administrators to cover the damages.       

According to the Spencer James Group, cost savings through self-insurance ranges from 10%-25%. The totality of the business responsibilities is not understood by the insurance policy or carrier, and often policies cover unnecessary areas which businesses don’t require. There is sometimes really no way to uncover the perfect policy plan. Self-insurance grants you this flexibility, and it pays off complicated, or large businesses in the long term.  

Drawbacks of Self Insurance

Given all the literature that supports the idea of self-insurance, you might wonder why anyone would ever pay insurance premiums again. Why doesn’t everyone just start self-insuring themselves?  

Let’s start with the basics, self-insurance does not qualify as having an insurance in a lot of states. For example, states that have made car insurance mandatory will not find it sufficient that you have simply set aside a pool of money for your car, they want you paying real premiums and affiliated with a real carrier who knows what they are doing.  

Furthermore, when you self-insure, you or your company is exposed to severe risks that you can seldom handle alone, more often than not, the claims will exceed the money you have saved, especially where issues of malpractice is concerned. For example, according to Verdit Victory, one of the largest malpractice lawsuits was a $38 million settlement for an ethics violation. Without a proper insurance coverage, you are exposed to unpreparable series of risks.  

Worker’s Compensation Insurance When You Self-Insure

People who own their own businesses often wonder if purchasing any one insurance package is ideal, or they should opt for self-insurance. This mainly depends if you are hiring employees or have employees on contract. If you are mostly leaning for self-insurance but find yourself unable to cover your employees, opt for a workers compensation insurance 

Workers compensation insurance covers all medical costs or injuries for work related circumstances. Almost all states have mandated businesses to issue workers compensation insurance for their employees.  

But what happens if you are self-employed? 

It is useful to issue workers compensation insurance for your employees if applicable. If you own a business, Cover Wallet has provided a comprehensive list of policies as per state requirement. If you are in a service providing self-employment sector, such as an instructor or a plumber, look into self-employed handyman’s insurance plans, in addition to your state’s requirement and make seeking out a workers compensation insurance your first step to staying financially secure.  

Additional Consideration

As an employee whose company is signing you up to self-insure, always be aware of your risks.  

If you are a company who wants to opt for self-insurance, having the cost of simply the risk settlement ready is not enough. You also need money for administration costs, such as risk management and analysis. If these costs outweigh your regular insurance premiums, it is time to reconsider your options.  

Always remember to consult with an agent if you are running your own business. Ask an agent: do you need public liability insurance if you are self-insured? The answer usually depends on your state, and your local agent is well versed with state requirements. 

Concluding Remarks

According to an EBRI trends report, self-insurance rebound trend began in 2018 and has increased by 78.7% since. Employees who are trying to self-insure still need to investigate their coverage options. This applies within big and small businesses both. In addition, employees whose company has offered self-insurance need to be aware that they will not be covered under the company’s additional policies.  

If you are self-employed in the rideshare industry, experts agree that you should rather opt for a rideshare insurance. Automobiles come with specialized risks that cannot be sufficient with self-insurance. Accidents are commonplace, and your allocated budget has a chance of running out. Always assess the risk of your business before you opt completely for self-insurance.  

Although self-insurance will come handy for specialized, one-time risk exposures, a long-term business plan, or trying to cover homeowner risks will never pay off if you are strictly relying on self-insurance. Needless of what your plans are, the best bet is to speak with experts.  

Was this article helpful? Leave comments and questions in the box below.  

You can look at any other insurance blogto learn about additional policies if you are self-employed. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does it mean when I am self-insured?

Rather than paying an insurance company monthly fees, we are paying all the claim costs by using our own allocated fund pool. Usually, a self-insured business also has third party administrator to process the claim, if you are new to this. Although the insurance coverage is the same, the method for paying the claim is what is changing.

How does self-insurance impact employees of companies?

Self-insurance has a positive impact on employees. They are free to customize their plans, and have a say on the budget formation of the plan. We are technically owners of our plan if we self-insure, and we also keep the unused money.

Can you self-insure a commercial car?

Not in all states. You need a standard car insurance in almost all the states. You can however self-insurance specific car insurance policies, such as car collision policy. Keep in mind that self-ensuring still requires you to comply with your DMV regulations, so speak to them on the subject. You may be charged for driving without insurance if you have not legally signed up to self-insure a vehicle.

How do I protect my business from high claims if I am self-insuring?

You use stop-loss policies. Stop-loss policy protects your business from very high claims that normally takes everything from your self-insured fund. If your business’s claim exceeds a certain amount, your stop-loss policy will compensate you for the unexpected expenses and render your claim settlement safe.

What are the risks of self-insurance?

Administrative costs run high when you self-insure. Self-employment liability cost is sometimes more than your self-insurance fund can cover, and if you don’t have stop-loss policies in place, it leads to loss. Always consult with an expert or your local agent to learn about your business risks in your state. State regulations play a big role when you are self-insuring.

Where can I find information about self-insurance in my state?

Check your state’s Department of Labor website to find out about self-insurance compliance laws in your state.

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