The Difference Between Risk Retention Groups and Traditional Insurance

The Differences Between Risk Retention Groups and Traditional Insurance

Usually, it’s easy to purchase the liability coverage you need from regular carriers. But what if a policy that you need is too expensive or even unavailable? Media attention on cyber attacks and workplace harassment has caused the cost of liability losses to rise dramatically, and businesses have other risk exposures they need to address. However, if you can’t find an affordable business liability insurance policy, you may be able to find coverage through risk retention groups.

These groups function similarly to regular insurance companies, but they’re formed and owned by the businesses seeking coverage. Because of this, risk retention groups allow businesses to control their own risk management issues and access stable insurance rates. However, this type of coverage is exempt from much of the regulatory oversight that protects policyholders, and businesses should be aware of other key issues before considering risk retention groups.

Background on Risk Retention Groups

Although Congress passed legislation on risk retention groups in 1981, at first they could only provide coverage for product liability and completed operations risks. However, later in the 1980s a crisis in the U.S. insurance market made it difficult or even impossible for businesses to obtain other types of liability coverage.

Although commercial insurance is usually regulated by individual states, Congress stepped in to address the market crisis and passed the Liability Risk Retention Act (LRRA) in 1986. This act allows risk retention groups to insure all types of commercial liability and essentially bypass traditional insurance markets.

How Do Risk Retention Groups Work?

The LRRA specifies that a risk retention group must be owned by all of its insured parties. Additionally, all of these parties must face similar liability exposures, (e.g., working in the same business, profession or industry). As a result, this type of coverage is popular in professions that face extremely large risks, such as medical malpractice liability.

Since the owners of a risk retention groups are the ones seeking insurance, they need to provide all of the finances to cover losses. There are also a number of federal and state regulations to consider:

  • Each risk retention group must be licensed as a liability insurance company in a single state, referred to as the domicile state.
  • In order to get a license, a group must provide its domicile state with specific documents outlining its intended insurance coverages, financial history, expected loss experience, underwriting procedures and more.
  • Unlike regular insurance companies, once a risk retention group obtains a license it can operate in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. However, groups need to register, pay premium taxes and comply with unfair claim practices in each state.
  • Risk retention groups are primarily regulated by their domicile states, and insurance commissioners in other states only have limited regulatory authority.

Download Our Alternative Risk -Group Captives Case Study

Many business owners who run their businesses in an efficient and safe manner become frustrated with the volatility and apparent arbitrary nature of premium costs for their insurance programs; especially when they continue to remain in Fully Insured programs. If a business’s insurance claims paid account for less than half of their premiums over time, they may fit in and be eligible for a Group Captive program – in a Group Captive businesses can be returned as much as 62% +/- of their Premium Costs.

The minimum premium for Group Captive programs is typically $100,000 in premium.

GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. We’re on Your Side

Even the most forward-thinking businesses experience losses, so it’s important to be ready with a comprehensive agriculture insurance program and risk management plans. The team at GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. can help you prepare your workplace so you’re ready to respond to a variety of scenarios.

You can start saving now by implementing safety and risk evaluation programs. We can provide you with guides, workplace policies and other resources so you can protect your bottom line right now


Advantages and Disadvantages of Risk Retention Groups

Although risk retention groups give businesses more control over their liability programs, they can also face significant financial risk. A group’s owners must provide all of the funds to back up insurance policies, which can put extreme pressure on each business in a risk retention group.

Here are some of the advantages of risk retention groups:

  • Businesses can tailor insurance policies to their own needs.
  • Risk retention groups are exempt from many state insurance requirements, which can lower premiums.
  • The policyholders retain all profit instead of insurance carriers.
  • Businesses with operations in multiple states don’t need to obtain multiple insurance licenses.
  • Premiums won’t rise or fall unexpectedly during renewals.
  • Reinsurance can help protect risk retention groups from severe losses.

Here are some of the ways risk retention groups can endanger businesses:

  • Risk retention groups can’t provide property insurance.
  • Businesses may not be able to access the funds they put into a risk retention group if needed.
  • Risk retention groups that become insolvent or fail to cover a loss may have to forfeit each policyholder’s funds, even if they aren’t related to a claim.
  • Domicile states may not monitor risk retention groups when they operate in other states, which can lead to unexpected compliance issues.
  • One business’s loss may raise premiums for each member in a risk retention group.
  • Businesses need to follow regulations to prove their financial responsibility, which can be difficult if they don’t have a certified insurance rating.

Learn More About Alternative Risk Programs and Captive Insurance

GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. provides many Insurance solutions specifically-tailored businesses exactly like yours!

Our Risk Management Insurance Tools Will Put You in the Driver’s Seat!

Our agency can help you build solid loss control and safety programs to help you stay on top of your biggest risk management and compliance challenges, such as:


Interactive Risk Analysis Tools

Use these multifunctional tools to evaluate various pain points that are unique to the agriculture industry. Many of these tools can be customized for your organization’s specific needs, so you can see how your business is faring and learn ways to manage your risk exposures.


Injury and Illness Investigation Programs

Make sure that falls, chemical exposures and other injuries only cost you a single time. These resources can help you establish best practices for investigating the true sources of agriculture incidents and reduce the chance of costly reoccurrences.


Compliance Tools

OSHA, the Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies often release rules specific to the agriculture industry, and mismanaging compliance topics can lead to costly fines and a tarnished reputation. Use these attorney-written compliance tools to understand your obligations and make sure your business stays in compliance.


Response Plans and Programs

To ensure your long-term success, your business needs to be ready to respond to a number of common agriculture and farming risk exposures. These programs and response plans can help you and your employees be ready for a wide variety of scenarios, such as heat illnesses, vehicle rollovers, equipment malfunctions and silo emergencies.


Employee Safety Communications

Promote various workplace topics with hundreds of employee-facing resources, including flyers, articles, bulletins and guides that will help keep health and safety top of mind.

OSHA Compliance Programs

Does your broker provide you with timely updates on new and revised OSHA regulations?

OSHA constantly updates its standards and requirements, and even a single update can drastically impact the construction industry and your regular operations. We can provide you with attorney-reviewed documents that outline your obligations, making it easy for you to focus on your agribusiness projects instead of complicated OSHA rules.

Are you prepared for an Unannounced OSHA inspection?

If an OSHA inspection finds violations at one of your construction sites, you could face fines and watch your reputation plummet. We can offer you agriculture-specific compliance resources and inspection guides to help you address potential issues before they occur.

Does your Agriculture business comply with OSHA’s hazard communication standards?

Agriculture employees often have to work with or around hazardous substances, and even one incident can lead to serious injuries and costly fines. Our clients have access to agriculture-specific toolbox talks and articles, as well as workplace posters and hazard communication programs that can ensure your business is compliant with OSHA standards.

Learn About the GDI Client Philosophy!

Safety and Compliance

  • Employee Manual
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Insurance & Risk Management

  • Basic Policies - Liability
  • Basic Policies - Employee Benefits
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  • Contractual Transfers

Maximization of Efficiencies

  • Accounting & Taxation
  • Legal Guidance & Council
  • Safety & Training
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If You Think This Sounds Too Good To Be True, Here Is What Just A Few Of Our Clients Have To Say about their Contractors Insurance:

"“…$385,000 less a year than we were paying

We looked hard at all our budget items, and insurance seemed to be a big fixed expense. GDI found us a policy for $385,000 less a year than we were paying”

-CA Home Builder

"…found me coverage for $140,000 less a year

When everyone else said that was the best they could do, I called GDI, and they found me coverage for $140,000 less a year than anyone else offered.”

-CA Cement Contractor

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Your Risk Retention Coverage Options

When considering risk retention groups, it’s important to closely examine each party that’s forming the group to ensure their operations won’t endanger your business. Also, be sure to GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. at 209-634-2929 to discuss your commercial liability coverage options.