Risk Retention and Risk Transfer

Risk retention and risk transfer are two risk management strategies that organizations use to handle various types of risks. These strategies are often employed in the fields of finance, insurance, and business operations. Here’s an explanation of each:

Risk Retention:


Risk retention involves accepting and bearing the financial consequences of a particular risk within an organization.

Key Points:

Assumption of Risk:

The organization decides to retain a portion or the entirety of a specific risk rather than transferring it to another party.


In some cases, risk retention involves self-insurance, where the organization sets aside funds to cover potential losses.

Cost Control:

Organizations may choose risk retention when the cost of transferring the risk (such as purchasing insurance) is deemed too high or when they believe they can manage the risk more effectively internally.

Strategic Decision:

Risk retention can be a strategic decision based on the organization’s risk appetite and its confidence in managing and mitigating the impact of certain risks.

Risk Transfer:


Risk transfer involves shifting the financial consequences of a risk from one party to another.

Key Points:

Insurance Contracts:

The most common method of risk transfer is through insurance contracts. Organizations pay premiums to insurance providers to transfer specific risks to them.

Contracts and Agreements:

Businesses may transfer risks through contracts and agreements. For example, a construction contract might specify which party is responsible for certain types of risks.

Derivative Instruments:

Financial derivatives, such as options and futures contracts, can be used for risk transfer in financial markets.


Outsourcing certain functions or processes to third-party providers may involve a transfer of operational and financial risks.


– Insurance Policies:

A company purchases insurance policies to transfer the financial risk associated with property damage, liability claims, or other insurable events.

– Derivatives Trading:

An investor uses options to transfer the market risk associated with a stock or commodity.

– Contractual Agreements:

A construction company includes clauses in a contract that transfer the risk of delays or cost overruns to subcontractors.


– Cost:

The cost of transferring risk should be weighed against the potential financial impact of the risk.

– Risk Identification:

Not all risks can be easily transferred, and it’s crucial to identify the risks that can be effectively transferred to other parties.

– Contractual Clarity:

When transferring risk through contracts, the terms and conditions must be clearly defined to avoid disputes.


In practice, organizations often use a combination of risk retention and risk transfer strategies to manage their overall risk exposure effectively. The choice between risk retention and risk transfer depends on the nature of the risk, the cost-benefit analysis, and the organization’s risk management objectives.