Self Insured Retention [ All You Need To Know]

Self-insured Retention is an insurance mechanism that is employed by some businesses to manage their insurance expenses. With a liability insurance plan with a SIR (Self Insured Retention) clause, the company has to pay a specified dollar amount before the company starts paying claims. Self-insured Retention permits businesses to limit risk because they are accountable for taking care of and paying out claims.

Self-insured Retention is popular for mid-sized to large-sized firms, and they provide additional benefits for those who are able to handle the additional burden of paying for any cost. If you’re a business that is constantly dealing with low-level coverage claims for insurance, the Self-Insured Insurance policy could be the right choice for you.

In this article, we’ll explain the most fundamental things about a SIR insurance policy and the benefits as well as drawbacks of the SIR. This insurance policy provision has proven to be a huge benefit for businesses and customers looking to cut costs on insurance. 

What is Self-Insured Retention?

Self-insured Retention is a fixed amount of money that is included in the liability policy you are required to cover before when your insurance company can begin to pay your claims.

For instance, if you are insured under general liability with 1 million dollars of coverage as well as a $100,000 SIR, you’ll have to pay all of the initial $100,000 for any claims before your insurance company begins to cover the claim.

In a Self-Insured Policy, not only will your business be required to pay for the initial SIR for a particular claim, but it is also in charge of handling the claim up to its SIR amount. 

Through a SIR, your business creates a fund and or outsources the task to a third party or employs one of your employees to oversee the program. While it is true that a SIR Insurance Policy is more labor intensive, it gives businesses a chance to regulate the process of claiming, and as your business takes on more risk for insurance, you will receive a lower premium.

A SIR Insurance Plan is a requirement for your company to have enough capital in order to finance the SIR. So self-insured retention insurance policy is often a more appropriate choice for mid-sized or larger firms that have the funds to cover claims.

The pros and cons of self-insurance

Benefits of self-insurance:

Cost savings

If you’re like the majority of entrepreneurs, you’ll find that insurance costs are a part of the costs of running a business. As with all business expenses, the cost of insurance should be controlled and managed.

When you self-insure yourself, you only pay for the costs of your claims. You do not pay for premiums. These premiums cover administration costs and profit margins for the insurance company. While you’ll have to pay administration costs, you’ll reduce the amount that is paid for the profits of the insurer.

Based on the kind of benefits that you offer can also allow you to determine your own deductibles and copayments as well as maximum benefits. In addition, you can monitor the costs of your business more effectively.

Increased control over claims

Self-insurance provides greater control over the process of settling claims and can result in quicker and better resolutions and lower costs.

Traditional insurance is where the process of settling claims is overseen completely by a third party. When you take the entire process into your own hands this way, you’ll have total control over the claims procedure within your organization and will be able to resolve any issues or determine the cause of delays in a timely manner.

Improved cash flow

If a company pays the company’s own expenses, those claims can be settled quickly and efficiently, with the financial loss to earnings of businesses decreased. A better experience with loss management can boost a business’s bottom line since fewer funds are needed to pay claims. 

Through improved experience with claims, the cost of managing claims can be reduced, as well as the cost of any additional insurance.

Enhanced risk management

Insuring your insurance is an easy way to gain access to all your information and can result in an understanding of the risk.

Risks of self-insurance:

Financial liability

One of the major negatives of self-insurance is the financial risk it poses. If an organization is self-insured, it is taking risks of financial loss on its own, which can be substantial if a catastrophe or claim of a significant size.

Large claims could be financially disastrous when the funds allocated for self-insurance are not sufficient. A self-insuring entity does not have risk diversification in place to ensure that losses are stabilized in an individual year and is more susceptible to risk. 

Self-insured organizations must take care to manage the risk they’re taking on cautiously. Due to the cost, self-insurance might prove unattainable for less-established businesses because they won’t have sufficient financial resources to put aside reserves for eventual losses.

Increased administrative burden

When you have any type of benefit plan or insurance, there is a person who will handle the claims and pay the premiums. That usually means more employees and increased payroll costs for your company. 

Another option is to employ an outside company, referred to as an administrator from a third party (TPA), to manage the program on your behalf. A TPA usually costs up to 7 percent of the total cost of insurance.

Potential for higher claims costs

In accordance with the state’s requirements, in addition to the insurance plan that you’re enrolled in, you might be subject to a government-imposed regulation. The state you live in may have you post bonds or reserve an amount in escrow to cover potential claims. 

Even if you avoid restrictions like these, you may still have to provide some type of reporting about your plan to your state government.

How Does Self-Insured Retention Work? 

Self-insured Retention is an insurance plan in which the insured party is required to pay a certain amount of losses from their pockets before the insurance company starts paying. The insured party acts as an insurer for a part of their risk, and the insurance company only being accountable for losses that exceed the amount of Retention.

The origins of self-insured can be traced to the beginning of the 20th century when big companies began using it to control expenses for insurance. Within the United States, the 1970s witnessed a surge in the use of retentions as companies tried to cut down on their dependence on commercial insurers as well as better control the potential risk. Retentions are now commonly employed in many sectors, such as healthcare, construction as well as transportation.

One of the major benefits of self-insured Retention enables those who are insured to take greater control over their insurance expenses. If they take on a certain portion or all of the risks, the insurance will often be able to negotiate lower rates with their insurance provider. Retentions also offer more flexibility with regard to insurance coverage since the insured can customize their policy to suit their particular needs.

Tips for businesses considering self-insurance

Make sure you have the financial resources to self-insure.

You must discover a way to pay the claims that you receive. Employers should set up a trust fund that will allow them to pay these claims. It is important to plan carefully the amount that is expected from the cost of insurance claims. This is the reason why bookkeeping is essential in the way these funds are used. This is a crucial aspect of planning reserves and knowing the necessity of things such as stop-loss insurance. Without a bookkeeping system, you’ll never know what you’re paying for in terms of claims.

Another aspect to consider is how you collect your funds at the beginning. It’s dependent on the location of your business, and, in general, it is subject to the rules under the federal Employee Social Security and Retirement Act (RSISA) of 1974. Because of this, the majority of trusts aren’t required to comply with the state’s insurance laws. 

There are certain circumstances that require them to comply with the law. This is the reason why research is crucial for self-insurance trusts.In doing this, one of the most effective methods to collect cash for a self-insurance trust would be to collect contributions from both employees and corporations. 

Get professional advice from an insurance broker or consultant.

A broker will also reduce time and stress by conducting analysis and comparison for you and also by controlling your portfolio of insurance. A broker can also help to find specific or customized insurance plans that fit your specific requirements.

One of the biggest negatives of working with brokers is the fact that you may have to shell out a cost or commission for their services, which could make it more expensive to purchase your insurance. Brokers also may have limited access to certain insurance providers or policies that aren’t included in their network affiliation.

The Insurance Brokers can continue to provide essential day-to-day functions like checking the insurance limits and policies when market conditions change, and they may also provide quarterly reviews as a part of their service. 

This provides security in a constantly changing business environment. As business gets more complicated, the needs for insurance businesses are more complex, meaning that companies need the help provided by an insurance Broker.

Carefully consider your risk tolerance and appetite.

Your company assumes all risk of being self-insured. The unknown increases the risk.

Administration, budgeting, costs, and compliance with the law are all things you’ll need to address while managing your company.

The risks are extremely expensive. If you don’t have the benefit of a TPA, then you must make sure that your company and plans comply with these rules, which can vary between states. Even the smallest of errors can result in costly penalties and fines.

Incorrect plan administration and breaches of confidentiality could result in lawsuits by employees. If you do not have a TPA, your business is exposed to lawsuit risk from a variety of perspectives.

All of this could result in a huge financial risk, which could lead to the financial ruin of your company. If you’ve got an employee who causes a major injury and requires extensive medical attention, the business could end up in the position of paying many thousands in healthcare expenses.

Develop a comprehensive self-insurance plan.

To implement a new policy for your company, it is essential to have a precise and concise strategy to be in place. This is particularly important for self-insurance ventures. For instance, you have to establish a budget aside to cover the insurance you provide your employees.

In general, it’s more affordable to self-insure versus paying an insurance company for a variety of plans that you could provide to your employees. To be successful as self-insured, it is essential to determine what you’ll invest in each employee’s health insurance plan. 

A more efficient HR department will benefit you over the long term by helping you maintain the status of self-insured. Without the support of your HR staff, you could easily become overwhelmed with dealing with claims. With an HR department that is budgeted, it is not just possible to transfer these duties to someone else, but you’ll also be able to save money doing it.

Final Word

In taking on the responsibility of handling any small demands before the self-insurance policy kicks in, businesses can play an active part in reducing the risk to their company.

Companies can enjoy a variety of advantages of Self-Insured Retention. At the top of the list is the astonishing reduction in insurance premiums. Instead of using premiums for insurance to cover losses ahead of time, the SIR lets you cover them when they happen. 

A self-insured retirement will protect you from stop loss. Since you’ll need to pay cash, this gives you more incentive to minimize their chances of occurring.

With a self-insured retention policy, you also get more control if you need to handle the process of adjusting claims. If disputes arise and you’re unable to resolve them, you’re entitled to dispute the SIR claim before an appropriate court. 


What is the difference between self-insured retention and deductible?

TopicSIR (Self-Insured Retention)Deductible
Insurer Responsibilities– No involvement for losses below the attachment point– Insurer pays every loss up to deductible limit
Collateral Requirements– No collateral required as no responsibility until SIR reached– Collateral often required, especially for large deductibles
Defense Costs– Insured pays defense costs until loss exceeds SIR– Negotiable whether defense costs erode deductible
Certificates of Insurance– SIR need not be disclosed on certificate of insurance– Deductible doesn’t always need to be disclosed
Limits Erosion– SIR doesn’t affect annual aggregate limit– Deductible usually erodes annual aggregate limit

Should you choose self-insured Retention?

Yes, you should choose Self-insured Retention. It is an ideal option for any business determined to keep some risk. It allows you to choose the kind of risk you’d like to retain. You’ll also need to figure out the amount of money you would like to place on the risk you’ve chosen to retain.

Larger and mid-sized companies are better suited to employ self-insured Retention. Employers with these types of policies are better equipped to handle the cost of substantial losses by having cash on the ready. 

Can self-insured retention be used for all types of insurance? 

No, self-insured retention can not be used for all types of insurance. It is specified in a liability insurance policy. Insurers only cover a claim after insureds pay a fee—which sometimes lapses coverage.

What are the legal requirements for self-insured retention?

The current financial regulations for an entity seeking to enter self-insurance include:

  1. Three calendar years of operation on a legally authorized business form.
  2. Three years of independently verified financial reports.
  3. Credit rating acceptable for three calendar years prior to the time of application

What are the tax implications of self-insured retention?

The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) approved regulations to create these financial capacities to self-insure retention. In accordance with regulations, self-insured retention is required to:

* Ensure a consolidated annual net income for the Group members in the amount of $500,000

* Earn enough money to pay for the group self-insurers actuarially projected claims liabilities at a 90% confidence level to cover the anticipated administrative costs to run the self-insurers group operations.

* Carry a specific excess insurance that has a maximum self-insured amount of $500,000 per event.

What are the best practices for self-insured retention?

  1. Enhance the cash flow of the company since no pre-funding of losses or major capital expenditures are needed.
  2. Make sure you are aware, since the company is investing its own money, that safety in the workplace is of top importance.

What are the next steps for me to consider self-insured retention?

After the self-insurance application is accepted, you have to follow specific annual obligations.

What is the average self-insured retention amount?

A self-insured retention has limits of $750,000 that are over the $250,000. SIR will also offer the insured $750,000 of coverage after the SIR is met.

What are the factors that affect my self-insured retention amount?

The retention of insurance policies varies based on the amount of risk portfolio, amount of insurance claims, and also the amount of risk the insured is comfortable taking and is able to afford to retain. There are many factors to be considered when considering self-insured savings, such as the composition of your portfolio and its growth, that have an immediate impact on the rates of insurance.

What happens if I have a claim that exceeds my self-insured retention amount?

Most claims are not that big. However, the apartment complex has had a few incidents which exceeded $100,000. The plan is covered by a general liability insurance policy with one million dollars per occurrence limit. 

To lower the costs of liability insurance, the owner of the building has decided to keep some losses in reserve and has chosen to insure himself for up to $100,000. 

If a claim arises, the property owner has to pay the damage up to the $100,000 retained amount. If the damage exceeds $100,000, the property owner’s liability insurance company will cover the rest of the cost in excess of the $1 million policy limit.

How do I manage my self-insured claims?

  • Connect with your broker. 
  • Review your policy 
  • Begin Claim investigation.
  • Damage evaluation is conducted.

What are the common mistakes made by businesses that self-insure?

Seven common mistakes employers make regarding self-insured:

1. Failure to disclose plan information

2. Inability to manage the plan in compliance with the plan’s documents or the certificates of coverage.

3. Inability to file 5500s or late filing 5500s.

4. The filing of one Form 5500 is for multiple benefit plans without a wrap document.

5. Small-sized businesses that segregate assets for self-insured plans like HRAs or FSAs.

6. Contributions to pre-tax employees can be deducted even without the need for a Section 125 certificate.

7. The creation of a self-administered FSA or HRA without the proper documentation.

What are the benefits of self-insurance for small businesses?

Self-insurance allows business owners to have much greater control over their finances.

Employers pay for premiums for underwritten and conventional policies prior to any claims made. However, a self-insurance policy will not pay until the claim is filed.

Sometimes, claims may take a while to be paid. Businesses will save funds until the claim is settled, and this allows for greater cost control.

Self-insurance’s additional benefit is that it offers an incentive to business owners who want to minimize their losses due to Compensation by implementing strict safety methods and preventing injuries.

To determine if self-insurance is viable for employers, one needs to look at the safety record of the business in terms of business performance, as well as the history of claims.

What are the risks of self-insurance for small businesses?

Certain employers, both private and public, employ self-insurance to cover workers’ Compensation. However, almost every type of risk can be covered by self-insurance. For example, you could decide to self-insure chiropractic benefits since your employees perform a lot of heavy lifting. 

You decide in accordance with what you desire for your employees, as well as the possible costs and benefits of your decision. If self-insuring certain risks through giving benefits directly to employees is a good idea for your company, you ought to consider it. 

Be aware that you might need to be prepared for catastrophic claims employing a combination of self-insurance and stop-loss coverage.

How can I get started with self-insurance for my small business?

In accordance with the law of your state, you have to establish a separate account that is designed to absorb the losses. If you choose to modify your claims and if you want to hire an outside party to handle this on your behalf.

The amount you’ll need to pay out of pocket before the insurance starts to take effect is known by the name of your retention rates. If you have set your retention rates excessively high, then you could have to pay more than the business can afford. 

What are the best insurance companies for self-insured businesses?

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Oscar
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Acadia Insurance Company
  • Aetna