There was a time when captive insurance was the preserve of large international organisations. However, innovation in the sector has meant that this is now more accessible for small to medium-sized enterprises.
A captive, in its purest form, is a company set up by its owners primarily to insure the risks of its parent and/or subsidiaries. This can offer several advantages in comparison with insuring through the commercial market:
- The insuring of unusual or catastrophic risks or multiple
- Avoid paying large overheads and profit margins
- Premiums relate to the insured's previous claims
- Direct access to the wholesale reinsurance market
- Benefit from the investment return on retained
- The retention within the group of the excess of net
premiums over claims
- Taxation efficiencies the payment of insurance premium is
deductible in arriving at profits and receipt is at the
group's offshore captive
- Improved risk management and understanding of the cost of
In the past, some small to medium sized firms have found that the benefits of a captive, given the likely volume of business, can be outweighed by the start-up and on-going costs.
Participating in a rent-a-captive scheme offers the advantage of sharing such expenses.
Firms are cautious about proceeding in such a manner using a conventional company, as all of the assets and liabilities are linked and therefore there is a risk that the failure of one insurance programme will lead to the loss of assets relating to another.
To address this, Guernsey pioneered the Protected Cell Company (PCC) a company made up of a core and individual cells, where the legal segregation ensures that no claim against one cell will be covered by the funds furnished by another.
Guernsey has now also introduced the innovative Incorporated Cell Company (ICC). An ICC, like a PCC, has cells but they are separately incorporated and distinct legal entities, offering an added layer of protection in the separation of assets and liabilities.
The use of a third-party cell company rather than a full-blown captive has distinct benefits which for small to medium sized businesses in particular makes captive insurance more viable:
- Lower Operating Costs Savings from
reduced reporting requirements and shared costs
- Less Management Time Reduction in the
amount of executive time required by the cell owner,
primarily because attendance is not required at quarterly PCC
- Quicker And Cheaper To Set Up And Exit
Setting up and closing down a PCC cell does not require the
same legal processes required to incorporate or wind up a
- No Minimum Capital There is a need to
cover the minimum margin of solvency and the risk gap but
this may be less than the £100,000 minimum required for
a separate captive
- Less Tax Using a PCC can avoid being
subject to Controlled Foreign Company legislation
Such are the potential benefits of captive insurance for all sizes of company that a client's risk management strategy could be considered somewhat deficient in scope and responsibility if it does not involve the use or at least consideration of some form of captive insurance.
For more information about Guernsey's finance industry please visit http://www.guernseyfinance.com/.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.