Illinois will soon begin taxing self-procured insurance premiums for the first time, as required by Senate Bill 3324, now Public Act 98-0978 (the Act). The Act, which was signed into law by Governor Quinn on August 15, was quietly ushered through the General Assembly as a supposed technical amendment. The Act is anything but—it substantively amends Illinois law to tax Illinois-based companies who self-procure insurance as though they were surplus lines brokers, imposing a 3.5 percent self-procurement tax, together with additional fees and charges. In addition, the Act makes it harder for Illinois companies to self-insure by narrowing the definition of an “industrial insured,” limiting the types of risk that may be self-insured and increasing the qualification requirements for risk managers. The new law applies to policies of insurance effective on or after January 1, 2015.
As we explained in a prior post, the Act hurts Illinois-headquartered businesses that manage risks using captive insurance arrangements. With the 2011 enactment of the Nonadmitted and Reinsurance Reform Act (NRRA), a company’s home state – typically its principal place of business – has exclusive authority to tax and regulate nonadmitted insurance. See 15 U.S.C. § 8201. For Illinois-headquartered businesses, this arrangement worked well because Illinois law previously allowed “industrial insureds” – companies meeting minimal size and sophistication requirements – to transact nonadmitted insurance without paying tax. An Illinois-headquartered company thus could obtain insurance from its captive domiciled overseas or in a captive-friendly U.S. state without paying any tax on its premiums.
The Act ends this business-friendly state of affairs. An industrial insured transacting nonadmitted insurance for a policy taking effect on or after January 1, 2015, will now have to withhold (or pay out-of-pocket if it does not withhold) a 3.5 percent premium tax on insurance contracts. Two additional charges increase the total effective rate to anywhere from 3.6 percent to 4.6 percent: a countersigning fee of 0.1 percent to support the Surplus Line Association of Illinois, and for certain lines of insurance, a fire marshal tax of anywhere from 0.01 percent to 1.00 percent of premium.
The Act also makes it more difficult for Illinois companies to self-insure by narrowing the definition of an “industrial insured,” where companies must qualify as an “industrial insured” in order to have the right to self-insure. Until now Illinois company could be an “industrial insured” if its annual premium for insurance of all risks except life and accident and health insurance exceeded $100,000 and it had either (a) at least 25 full-time employees, (b) more than $3 million of gross assets, or (c) gross revenues of more than $5 million. Under the Act, an industrial insured now must meet the requirements of an “exempt commercial purchaser” under 215 ILCS 5/445(1), which include having nationwide commercial property and casualty insurance premiums in excess of $100,000 annually and having either (a) net worth of more than $20 million, (b) more than $50 million of annual revenues, (c) more than 500 full time employees or more than 1,000 employees in an affiliated group, (d) a nonprofit with at least a $30 million budget, or (e) a municipality with a population in excess of 50,000 persons. In addition, the Act limits the types of risks that may be self-insured. Even if they meet the new definition of an “industrial insured,” Illinois companies may no longer self-insure for policies of health or accident insurance. Finally, the Act increases the qualification requirements for the “qualified risk managers” that must be used by industrial insureds to manage their self-insurance policies.
With the Act on the books, presumably the Department of Insurance and the Surplus Line Association of Illinois will begin preparing forms and guidance for industrial insureds to comply with the new requirements. An effort is underway to pass legislation during the post-election veto session to repeal the Act or ameliorate its effects.
Eric Cartstens contributed to this article.