Contingency Reserve

Updated on January 3, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Edited byAshish Kumar Srivastav
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What is the Contingency Reserve?

The contingency reserve is the retained earnings that have been set aside for future contingent losses. These are not available for distribution as dividends and can be modified at any time depending upon the situation. It is usually estimated based on risk management techniques.


  • The construction industry often creates a contingent reserve on a project basis as it is volatile, and various risk factors like inflation, government policies, etc. can be affected. If this reserve is utilized, it will be added to the project’s cost.
  • If contingency doesn’t arise, then it can be released. This is not a free reserve and is not available for part of a distribution to the shareholders. The insurance industry commonly creates and uses contingency reserve and insurance business, also risk-based business, and depends on the happening or non-happening of a particular event.
Contingency Reserve

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How to Calculate Contingency Reserve?

  • Determine the risk involved in the project or task or business
  • Determine reserve amount based on risk calculation
  • Determine the percentage of risk and divide the total amount throughout the risk
  • Open a reserve account with a bank.
  • Transfer the periodic reserve amount to the reserve account.
  • Withdraw from reserve account if contingency arise
  • If contingency doesn’t arise, then at the end of the risk period, transfer the amount from the reserve account to the normal account of the entity.

There are various methods to calculate like:

#1 – Deterministic Method: In this method percentage of contingency over the project cost to be determined and then apply percentage on the cost to know the amount of reserves.

Amount to be Transferred = Cost * Risk of Contingency

#2 – Expert Judgment Method: In this method, the expert will determine the amount of contingency funds required with a strong basis and experience in risk management.

#3 – Probabilistic Method: In this method, range distribution is determined, and from that range amount of reserve is determined based on the level of confidence and experience of the owner.

#4 – Expected Value Method: Under this expected valueExpected ValueExpected value refers to the anticipation of an investment's for a future period considering the various probabilities. It is evaluated as the product of probability distribution and outcomes.read more method, the amount is determined by multiplying the probability with impact.

Expected Value = Risk Occurrence Probability * Impact if the Same Occurs

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Example of Contingency Reserve

From the following information calculate the amount to be transferred in contingency:

  • Project Period 12 Months
  • Risk of Contingency: 30%
  • Cost of Project: $290,000


Amount of Reserve to be Created = Cost of Project * Risk of Contingency

Contingency reserve Example 1

This $8,700 to be transferred in the separate bank account

The monthly amount to be Transferred = Yearly Amount / Number of Months

Contingency reserve Example 1-1

The monthly amount to be transferred = $725

Why Use Contingency Reserve?

  • It should be used to meet the contingency. It is planning of business so that during contingency also the business gets unaffected, and no shortage of money takes place.
  • To meet the unexpected losses.
  • To ensure that consistent and timely return to the investors.
  • To stand in the industry in tough times also.
  • To protect the business from heavy losses.
  • To account for the effect of inflation and other changes.



  1. Better Risk Management: it helps meet unexpected future expenses without interrupting the financial cycle.
  2. Cost Management and Better Budget Planning: This reserve helps in better cost management as the amount is set aside for contingencies; hence there are chances that the project’s cost cannot increase beyond the actual cost-plus contingency amount.
  3. Backup for Enough Resources: This reserve creates a backup for resources so that if resources fall short, it can restore from backup resources.


  1. Blockage of Money: to meet contingency arise in a future entity set aside money; hence it is blockage of money as it cannot be used anywhere.
  2. Increase in Cost: This is based on risk management techniques; hence the entity needs to consult risk management experts to know the amount. Thus it increases the cost of the project.
  3. Uncertain reserve: as risk is unpredictable and it is to be re-evaluated at regular intervals hence reserve amount becomes uncertain.


  • This is the part of retained earnings which is set aside to meet the future unexpected cost or losses. It is calculated on logical and risk-based techniques. It is often used in the real estate and insurance industries.
  • It is useful as it sets aside money for future losses; hence in the future, no shortage of money arises if the contingency occurs, but on the other hand, it blocks the use of money so that contingency reserve amount cannot be invested.

Recommended Articles

This has been a guide to What is Contingency Reserve & its Meaning. Here we discuss the examples of contingency reserve, importance, and how to calculate, along with advantages and disadvantages. You can learn more about it from the following articles –

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