Loss contingency

loss contingency

If the contingent loss is remote, meaning it has less than a 50% chance of occurring, the liability should not be reflected on the balance sheet. Any contingent liabilities that are questionable before their value can be determined should be disclosed in the footnotes to the financial statements. In California, the contingency removal date is typically 17 days from acceptance. Acceptance occurs on the date that the buyer and seller agree on offer terms, contingencies included. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are a number of different contingencies that are present in most real estate offers.

Credit rating agencies, creditors and investors rely on audits to expose hidden risks to counterparties. A company might overstate its contingent liabilities and scare away investors, pay too much interest on its credit or fail to expand sufficiently for fear of loss. Contingent liabilities, when present, are very important audit items because they normally represent risks that are easily misunderstood or dismissed. For companies in the United States, the Financial Accounting Standards Board, or FASB, sets specific criteria for how contingent liabilities are to be assessed, disclosed and audited. Auditors are expected to apply recognition, measurement and disclosure criteria per FASB accounting standards codification.

This is the clause that states your buyer’s offer is contingent on being able to secure financing for your house. It’s quite common for a loan contingency to extend beyond than 17 days and for it to have a separate removal date. The contingency removal date is the date defined in the offer when the buyer will remove contingencies and commit to a firm intent to close escrow. Standard real estate contingencies typically include the right to review title, inspect the property and review the seller’s disclosure packet.

Pending lawsuits and product warranties are common contingent liability examples because their outcomes are uncertain. The accounting rules for reporting a contingent liability differ depending on the estimated dollar amount of the liability and the likelihood of the event occurring. The accounting rules ensure that financial statement readers receive sufficient information. Describe the criteria that apply in accounting for contingencies.How does timing of events give rise to the recording of contingencies? A subjective assessment of the probability of an unfavorable outcome is required to properly account for most contingences.

With regard to financing, sellers may be apprehensive, as they risk wasting time with a buyer who is eventually unable to pay for their home. Companies operating in the United States rely on the guidelines established in the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Under GAAP, a contingent liability is defined as any potential future loss that depends on a “triggering event” to turn into an actual expense. Armadillo Industries has been notified by the local zoning commission that it must remediate abandoned property on which chemicals had been stored in the past. Armadillo has hired a consulting firm to estimate the cost of remediation, which has been documented at $10 million.

For example, suppose many employees of a company are traveling together on an aircraft which crashes, killing all aboard. Accordingly, many companies have procedures to follow in the event of such a disaster. The plan may also include standing policies to mitigate a disaster’s potential impact, such as requiring employees to travel separately or limiting the number of employees on any one aircraft. The IASB has been considering possible revisions to IAS 37 Provisions, Contingent Liabilities and Contingent Assets for many years. The IASB issued exposure drafts in 2005 and 2010 that would have replaced IAS 37 with a new IFRS or made significant revisions to IAS 37.

Some common example of contingent liability journal entry includes legal disputes, insurance claims, environmental contamination, and even product warranties results in contingent claims. Contingent liabilities, liabilities that depend on the outcome of an uncertain event, must pass two thresholds before they can be reported in financial statements. First, it must be possible to estimate the value of the contingent liability. If the value can be estimated, the liability must have greater than a 50% chance of being realized. Qualifying contingent liabilities are recorded as an expense on the income statement and a liability on the balance sheet.

When should a loss contingency be accrued?

A loss contingency is a charge to expense for what is considered to be a probable future event, such as an adverse outcome of a lawsuit. A loss contingency gives the readers of an organization’s financial statements early warning of an impending payment related to a likely obligation.

loss contingency

Common examples include lawsuits, warranties on company products and unsettled taxes. Because of the risks they impose and the increased frequency with which they occur in contemporary finance, contingent liabilities should be carefully considered by every private and government auditor.

are liabilities that may occur, depending on the outcome of a future event. For example, when a company is facing a lawsuit of $100,000, the company would incur a liability if the lawsuit proves successful. On the other hand, if it is only reasonably possible that the contingent liability will become a real liability, then a note to the financial statements is required.

Likewise, a note is required when it is probable a loss has occurred but the amount simply cannot be estimated. Normally, accounting tends to be very conservative (when in doubt, book the liability), but this is not the case for contingent liabilities. Therefore, one should carefully read the notes to the financial statements before investing or loaning money to a company.

A footnote can also be included to describe the nature and intent of the loss. The likelihood of the loss is described as probable, reasonably possible, or remote. The ability to estimate a loss is described as known, reasonably estimable, or not reasonably estimable. A contingent liability is a liability that may occur depending on the outcome of an uncertain future event.

  • The potential liabilities whose occurrence depends on the outcome of an uncertain future event are accounted as contingent liabilities in the financial statements.

The FASB allows auditors to use their best judgment when deciding between the three levels of likelihood. Large contingent liabilities can dramatically affect the expected future profitability of a company, so this judgment should be wielded carefully. If the company’s claims are confirmed and shown to be reasonable, the auditor can then validate the information presented to the public.

The nature of the contingency should be reported along with an estimate of the amount of money involved. Two classic examples of contingent liabilities include a company warranty and a lawsuit against the company.


Rules specify that contingent liabilities should be recorded in the accounts when it is probable that the future event will occur and the amount of the liability can be reasonably estimated. This means that a loss would be recorded (debit) and a liability established (credit) in advance of the settlement. A contingent asset becomes a realized (and therefore recordable) asset when the realization of income associated with it is virtually certain. Some real estate agents advise against including contingencies, as they can be a turn off for prospective buyers and sellers. In the case of a property inspection contingency, sellers may not want to shoulder the cost.

Unlike gain contingencies, losses are reported immediately as long as they are probable and reasonably estimated. They do not have to be realized in order to report them on the balance sheet. For losses that are material, but may not occur and their amounts cannot be estimated, a note to the financial statements disclosing the loss contingency is reported. A loss contingency is incurred by the entity based on the outcome of a future event, such as litigation. Due to conservative accounting principles, loss contingencies are reported on the balance sheet and footnotes on the financial statements, if they are probable and their quantity can be reasonably estimated.

Do not confuse these “firm specific” contingent liabilities with general business risks. General business risks include the risk of war, storms, and the like that are presumed to be an unfortunate part of life for which no specific accounting can be made in advance. As with gain contingencies, a loss contingency is also an uncertain situation. However, unlike gain contingencies, loss contingencies, if probable, should be reported by debiting a loss account and crediting a liability account.

A contingent liability is recorded if the contingency is likely and the amount of the liability can be reasonably estimated. The liability may be disclosed in a footnote on the financial statements unless both conditions are not met. A loss contingency that is probable or possible but the amount cannot be estimated means the amount cannot be recorded in the company’s accounts or reported as liability on the balance sheet. Instead, the contingent liability will be disclosed in the notes to the financial statements.

Loss contingency

In United States history, there was a time when even a congressman who opposed slavery would conclude that its retraction would be impossible. Today in the United States, slavery has been abolished and women have the right to vote. When faced with decisions, people will choose one option at the exclusion of the others. Because of these consequences, decision makers must deliberate and choose. Another problem arises when one asks where this knowledge of what issues are “necessary” and “impossible” originates and how the knowledge can be applied to others.

The potential liabilities whose occurrence depends on the outcome of an uncertain future event are accounted as contingent liabilities in the financial statements. i.e. these liabilities may or may not rise to the company and thus considered as potential or uncertain obligations.

Now assume that a lawsuit liability is possible but not probable and the dollar amount is estimated to be $2 million. Under these circumstances, the company discloses the contingent liability in the footnotes of the financial statements. If the firm determines that the likelihood of the liability occurring is remote, the company does not need to disclose the potential liability.

As a result of the 2011 Agenda Consultation the project was placed into the research programme. Work also continued on the definition of a liability for the Conceptual Framework.

Gain Contingency

Both represent possible losses to the company, yet both depend on some uncertain future event. The financial accounting term contingency is defined as an event with an uncertain outcome that can have a material effect on the balance sheet of a company. Gain and loss contingencies are noted on the company’s balance sheet and income statement when they are both probable and reasonably estimated. It is often used for risk management for an exceptional risk that, though unlikely, would have catastrophic consequences.

Since the amount of the loss has been reasonably estimated and it is probable that the loss will occur, the company can record the $10 million as a contingent loss. If the zoning commission had not indicated the company’s liability, it may have been more appropriate to only mention the loss in the disclosures accompanying the financial statements. This again raises the question of contingency because that which is deemed necessary or impossible depends almost entirely on time and perspective.