Insurance and Risk Retention Philosophy
Insurance is purchased to protect the University from all insurable losses which might significantly impact the University's financial condition. Risks are assumed without insurance where the impact is not considered significant or where cost economies can be realized by retaining or self-insuring the exposures. One of the functions of Risk Management is to assess what levels of loss the University can bear without insurance and how to finance other losses.
Although the University's ability to absorb a loss is significant, any one department of the University cannot bear the impact of a single large loss. For some common exposures, Risk Management has established an internal "insurance policy" for departments that limits losses to a $2,500 per claim/occurrence deductible and the remainder of a loss is absorbed, or paid from a specially designated reserve established within Columbia. Other claims are paid by the Risk Management Department without any deductible allocation back to the Department.
Columbia University neither accepts nor purchases insurance for activities unless they are directly related to the University's educational or research mission. The University may purchase separate insurance to limit its exposure whenever the University's funds can be exposed to loss resulting from activities only indirectly related to its mission, or which produce revenues insuring to the benefit of affiliated organizations. When these types of special insurance policies are purchased, the Risk Management Department may charge the cost of the policy to the appropriate organization or department.