Unemployment Insurance is Not Really Insurance

March 11, 2015

Unemployment Insurance is Not Really Insurance

But it can act like it is!

In the world of for-profit companies, State Unemployment Insurance is a payroll tax assessed on employers to fund unemployment benefits. It is habitually and imperfectly called “unemployment insurance” or SUI (aka SUTA). Insurance Commissioners in nearly every state differentiate other forms of insurance from this employer tax assessed by their state to collect funds to pay for unemployment “insurance” benefits. In fact, those tax payments are often referred to as “employer contributions” in much of the unemployment literature published by the various state agencies.

However, in the world of 501c3 nonprofits, tribal enterprises and governmental employers, SUI actually provides the option to either elect to pay that tax, or opt out and reimburse, or essentially self-insure the cost of re-paying the state for benefits paid out in the future. Oddly enough, accountants practicing double entry accounting might see reimbursement payments to a state as both a liability and an expense of business operations. In reality, every type of future liability presents an occasion for risk transfer and/or insurance coverage.

As a straightforward financial transaction, making the reimbursing election seems easy enough and it nearly always is immediately cheaper. But how a nonprofit funds future unemployment benefit losses turns out to be anything but simple.

For nonprofit organizations, at the core of the problem is the natural human inclination to pay small financial losses that are sure to occur, in favor of avoiding much larger losses that are less likely to happen. When applied to a recognized insurance product, this means that many people would often rather pay premiums, i.e., small but certain losses (SUI tax, or some other pooled risk), even if it exposes them to potentially disastrous future losses.

Insurance experts often opine that people would make better decisions about their future risk if they understood that a place still afire from a lightning strike is as likely to be struck again as any other. Rather than regarding premiums paid for insurance that doesn’t immediately appear to pay a claim as an uncompensated loss, it is, in fact, financial protection against future ruinous loss.

So, having a thoughtful financial strategy utilizing some level of solid, established coverage of future unknown risk is an excellent business practice. First Nonprofit Group brings nonprofits, tribal enterprises and governmental employers to speed on the benefits of having both a solid financial strategy and coordinated cost control measures that meet a variety of diverse needs now and in the future.

For more information about First Nonprofit Group unemployment services, please contact us.


Source: First Nonprofit Group’s “Financial Mechanics of Funding SUTA” series

Next article: “Savvy Nonprofits Create a Solid Funding Strategy

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First Nonprofit has saved us so much money over the state’s program. We had one little glitch with the state recently and we contacted FNP immediately. FNP staff called us back immediately and moved to remedy the problem.

WI Council of Religious & Independent Schools (WCRIS), Madison, WI

First Nonprofit has been a great partner. They have helped us saved hundreds of thousands of dollars! They have awesome resources for our nonprofit organization. Thanks for the partnership.

Community Care Inc., Milwaukee, WI

Life is certainly busy these days but having business partners like First Nonprofit has made some of the process hassle free. We have worked with this team for years. When we changed payroll systems, they outlined every step. I think this team is terrific and I know they get the job done! Thank you, Cruz, to all the team at FNP.

Gulfside Healthcare Services, New Port Richey, FL

FNP has helped our agency to save thousands of dollars every year on our unemployment coverage. The service is phenomenal, and we are thankful to their team as our partner. My experience working with Marshall on the advocacy around UE for nonprofits was also a highlight as someone who teaches advocacy and lobbying for nonprofits. Really, your whole team is top shelf, so thank YOU!

Advancing Academics, Turtle Creek, PA

Chicago Children’s Theatre has greatly benefited from our partnership with First Nonprofit, and I have always enjoyed working with the staff on our filings and any complicated questions. I would not hesitate to recommend First Nonprofit to fellow nonprofits. We’re very happy customers.

Chicago Children’s Theatre, Chicago, IL

FNP is a great resource for Daniel Kids. To have a TPA that we can count on to take point on not only managing our unemployment claims, but to support and guide any protest hearing, is invaluable. All the professional support staff we have worked with have been excellent, very knowledgeable and responsive. We are grateful for the help and support, thank you.

Daniel Kids, Jacksonville, FL

When I first began in my position at my organization, I hadn’t had experience working with a company like FNP. The staff was so patient and helpful in helping to explain the benefits of First Nonprofit. Anytime I reach out with a question I receive a quick, clear, and thorough response. I’m so thankful that we decided to partner with FNP. Their excellence in customer service, coupled with their variety of packages frees us up to truly serve our staff and community with a peace of mind knowing that our organization is protected against unanticipated unemployment insurance expenses.

Homes of Hope, Chicago, IL

First Nonprofit gets an A+ in my book. You are so easy to work with & very knowledgeable! Whether it is my quarterly correspondence with Kim or my random interactions with Dawn about a bond … I am so pleased that I get to work with such a helpful company. Thank you!

Women's Choice Network, Pittsburgh, PA