Monday, October 4, 2010

Self –Insurance: Insurance of Choice of Big Corporations?

Currently made famous during the course of the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill investigation, is self-insurance the primary insurance of choice of big corporations?

By: Ringo Bones

With the scope of the catastrophic oil spill necessitating in the replacement of British born chief executive Tony Hayward with the American born Bob Dudley, BP had recently thrust into the media limelight the concept of self-insurance – albeit for all the wrong reasons. Given the billions in payouts BP will eventually give away to one of the most litigious countries in the world affected by the catastrophic April 20, 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, is self-insurance still the ideal primary insurance of choice of big corporations?

As far as it became available, everyone in the insurance business already have a consensus view that self-insurance is practical only for large organizations and / or corporations with widely separated risks – as in multi-national corporate firms. Very useful when the firm using self-insurance must be prepared to pay losses as they currently occur. A firm wanting to avail themselves of self-insurance may purchase excess insurance so as to avoid the effect of catastrophic losses. Although large corporations can handle the relatively higher-cost premiums of self-insurance, will there be any unforeseen pitfalls if they elect to avail themselves to this sort of insurance?

Given the risks and the certainty of catastrophic losses that the oil company BP faces on its day-to-day operation must be important enough to warrant self-insurance, the steep premiums of such insurance has recently made everyone closely watching the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill investigation wonder whether BP diverted their safety budget to pay for self-insurance premiums in order to save money; Even if such a move have resulted in catastrophic accidents to occur, like the 2005 Texas City BP Oil Refinery explosion.

From spending millions in PR adverts that could have been more useful being used to compensate fishing industry workers affected by the catastrophic April 20, 2010 oil spill to whether slashing their safety budget to prop-up their bottom line, BP’s current economic viability might still be in doubt. Only time will tell if the company’s choice for self-insurance will actually pay-off so that they can be profitable again as they move on from the catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill – which now has overtaken the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989 as the worst oil spill disaster to occur in US territory. If BP manages to stay afloat despite of the billions in pay-outs, then self-insurance could be the best profitable choice for big corporations.

No comments: