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It’s not easy being big. When Microsoft Corp. went looking for a risk management information system, there was nothing on the market that met its needs.The available systems assumed a company bought traditional insurance in one-year increments, and the software giant’s approach was anything but traditional.

When Microsoft thinks about transferring risk, its main focus isn’t traditional policies like property and casualty or general liability. Given the nature of its business, its limited physical plant and the fact that it doesn’t operate any stores, the software giant is more concerned with risks related to intellectual property rights, regulatory matters and business contracts and relationships-areas where loss events occur infrequently, but can prove very painful financially. Microsoft employs sophisticated methods to transfer such risks, like captives and finite programs, and it tends to have high self-insured retentions. It also has multiple policies, with limits totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.

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