Boom Times!

Finally, maybe a little good news in this difficult year. As we all know, the hardening of the traditional insurance market has produced a surge in interest in the formation of captives by new entrants into our industry, as well as an expansion of types and amounts of risks in current captives.

Anecdotally, all my recent discussions with VCIA members have circled around how busy they have been with inquiries and expansion plans since the beginning of the year. Ellen Charnley, president of Marsh Captive Solutions, reported not long ago that Marsh has broken records in the number of captives formed this year. Marsh formed a record 76 new captive insurance companies between January and July 2020, an increase of over 200 percent compared to the same period in 2019 – amazing!

Here in Vermont, DFR Deputy Commissioner Dave Provost and his staff have echoed the reports. Vermont has licensed over 25 captives already this year. For comparison, twenty-five new captives for the entire year is considered a good year normally! And usually the fourth quarter is the busiest for our friends at DFR, as organizations seek to form their captive programs before the new year.

Looking ahead, it doesn’t look like there will be much abatement in captive growth. With a continued hardening market forecast into 2021, and the impacts of the pandemic continuing to unfold, organizations will continue to seek the financial stability and cost savings that captives can often bring to their owners. Let the boom roll on!

Thanks, as always, for your continued support in these trying times. I look forward to hearing from you!

Rich Smith
VCIA President

And the Winner is…

It’s award season in the captive community (aw, heck, it’s always award season…) and not unusually several recent awardees have deep connections with Vermont.

Captive publication, Captive International, named the winners of its inaugural U.S. Captive Awards this past week and many of the winners were from Vermont or had lasting connections to VCIA. I won’t list all the winners, but here is a smattering from Vermont. First and foremost, Vermont was named Domicile of the Year. Some of the Vermonters who won include Beecher Carlson’s Pete Kranz, named as Captive Management Professional of the Year; Stephanie Mapes of Paul Frank + Collins, who is incoming VCIA board chair, received the Individual Legal honor; and former VCIA board chair Tina Truax McCuin of TD Wealth received the Individual Banker of the Year – are you sensing a pattern here?

Captive Review also staged their annual U.S. Captive Awards this past week and Vermont was the winner again of Domicile of the Year for the 7th year in a row!  Pete Kranz won Captive Service Professional of the Year in these awards as well, and former VCIA board chair Heather McClure of Academic Physicians Insurance Company (Oklahoma University Medicine Hospitals and Physicians) was named Captive Risk Manager of the Year. Again, I am sensing a pattern…

Many of the great firms and people who received awards from these two esteemed captive publications have strong connections to VCIA and all have played a role in its growth. We are happy to have these professionals among us. Congratulations to all!

Thanks, as always, for your continued support in these trying times. I look forward to hearing from you!

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Welcome Brittany!

I want to say a HUGE welcome from the Vermont captive insurance community to Brittany Nevins. As many of you have heard, Brittany recently joined Vermont’s Department of Economic Development as the new Captive Insurance Economic Development Director. She will be taking over from the estimable Ian Davis, now over at Peoples United (but still in our captive community!).

Brittany will be responsible for the marketing and business development of Vermont’s captive insurance industry, working closely with the Department of Financial Regulation and VCIA to continue to strengthen the state’s reputation as the premier onshore captive insurance domicile.  We have already had several calls and zoom meetings with hew and she is going to be great!

Located in Texas for the last 2 plus years, Brittany served as a community and economic development specialist for Travis County, Texas, managing its property tax rebate program for businesses that sought to develop in the Austin region. Prior to that, she was a policy specialist for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, where she provided support for a variety of agency regulatory programs.

On top of all that, having lived in Latin America for a little while, Brittany is also fluent in Spanish. And as VCIA and the State of Vermont continue to explore connecting the Vermont captive industry to the Latin American risk management marketplace, it will come in handy. Although, she did warn me translating our nomenclature, such as non-domiciliary reciprocal risk retention regulations, will not just flow off her tongue! And it coincides nicely with next week’s Online Captive Trade Mission with Mexico which VCIA and the State are hosting on September 30th.  By the way, this event is free for VCIA Members – details here.

So, please take a minute to say “hi” to Brittany and welcome her into our wonderful community, like you did for me ten years ago. Her email is brittany.nevins@vermont.gov.

Thanks, as always, for your continued support in these trying times. I look forward to hearing from you!

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Vermont = Competence

I was looking at a LinkedIn message from Tim McQuiston, the editor of the Vermont Business Magazine, the other day and it reminded me of how important the competence of both leaders and agencies in the State of Vermont is to its citizens.

Tim reminded us that Vermont has used a combination of strict health protocols and impressive compliance by students to keep COVID case counts down, despite 40,000 college students back in the state and tens of thousands of tests conducted.

Vermont COVID numbers are low per capita and have been from the beginning. Not that there haven’t been challenges here and there, but Vermont’s Governor, Health Commissioner, and overall team (along with the Vermont General Assembly) have remained cool, calm, and collected. And part of the leadership in the Governor’s team is Mike Pieciak, Commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) – which, as most of you know, includes captive insurance. The Governor relies on Mike and his team to assist with the modelling of the COVID numbers and analysis using actuarial science. The work and reports being generated by Mike’s team are being used to inform the Governor, Health Commissioner, and all Vermont citizens. With this useful pandemic knowledge and insight, we are all better equipped to make good decisions.

Vermont has a history of being practical. Even us flatlanders who came to Vermont from other places seem to adopt that attitude – maybe it’s the weather. That practicality permeates the state and provides a sense of quiet competence regarding our leadership.  And nobody does competence better than DFR – let us all take a moment to acknowledge the great work the DFR staff continues to do, no matter the circumstance.

Thanks, as always, for your continued support in these trying times. I look forward to hearing from you!

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Back at It!

Labor Day has come and gone, and we here at VCIA are back at it! For those of you that joined us or contributed your time, energy, and talent to VCIA’s 35th Annual Conference and first-ever 100% Virtual Conference – thank you, again!

VCIA was able to present dozens of educational sessions, a vibrant exhibit pavilion with 56 booths, three Special Events, two Keynote Speakers, industry experts on every panel, nearly 670 attendees, and meaningful ways to network and connect with industry colleagues – all 100% virtually. Because of the hard work from you, our members, we were able to deliver an excellent program in a whole new way, and that in itself is a huge success! 

Now we are embarking on a  number of new events slated for the rest of the year, and we hope you will join us!

Due to the pandemic, we had postponed our travel to  Mexico City, where VCIA and the State of Vermont were planning to present a Captive Insurance Trade Mission this fall.  Happily, though, we are able to host a similar event remotely, coming up on September 30th!  VCIA Members are invited to join this online Trade Mission with Mexico at no charge and learn from our experts. The presentation is from 11 – 12:30 Eastern Time and will share information on captive programs and tax implications related to Mexico. Our contacts in Mexico will be on the line as well, and we will have translation services in place. Check out the details at this link and just email your contact information to info@vcia.com if you want to attend! https://www.vcia.com/Education/OnlineTradeMissionwithMexico/tabid/189/Default.aspx

On October 28th, VCIA will be hosting a webinar (CPE, Vermont CLE, ICCIE credit available) focused on how the captive industry has shifted to a “work-from-home” model. Join us for a rich discussion on the difficulties faced and opportunities found while working remotely as part of the captive insurance industry. Our panel will share the many ways that societal shifts have pushed us all to think outside the box.   Unique perspectives will be shared from a captive manager, a captive owner, an insurance regulator, and a startup founder in artificial intelligence designed for captives. Join us for ‘Working Remotely in the Captive Realm.’

There will be lots more to come for the end of the year. Thanks, as always, for your continued support in these trying times. I look forward to hearing from you!

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Thank You!

Just a quick post to say a huge THANK YOU to all who participated in VCIA Virtual 2020!

It was quite an experience for us to transform our usual captive insurance conference into an online 100% virtual event. And although it was sad not to have been able to see everyone in Vermont this year, it was heartening to get so many nice comments from many of the participants.

I am proud of our staff and members for pulling this off in the short mount of time we hade to learn the ropes and make the conversion. To all our expert panelists who so gamely made themselves available to the attendees – thank you!

And a huge thanks to all our exhibitors and sponsors without which we would not be able to present all the great content that will now be available until the end of July next year. Special thanks to our Platinum Sponsors:

  • A.M. Best
  • Kroll Bond Rating Agency
  • Madison Scottsdale
  • Old Republic Companies
  • Performa
  • Sedgewick
  • and the State of Vermont

I look forward to seeing everyone in Vermont next year!

Rich Smith
VCIA President

It’s Not Too Late to See Cool Stuff

VCIA Virtual 2020 starts Tuesday, August 11th, and it’s not too late to check it out and register!

One of our sessions, Digital Transformation and Opportunities: What the Captive Market Will Look Like in 2025, will feature a case study describing the progress and results of a Vermont-based working group who had been addressing issues like high administrative costs, lack of capacity of insurable and emerging risks, and inefficient value chain structure.

The panelists will discuss how they have engaged with stakeholders to drive digital transformation and business innovation, economic growth, and enhance captives in Vermont and beyond. The panel includes two of our favorite people from the captive owner’s perspective: Courtney Claflin, Executive Director, and Karen Hsi, Program Manager of Captive Insurance Programs for the University of California.

On top of that, panelists Marcus Schmalbach, chief executive at RYSKEX, recently was named as the winner of the Lloyd’s Lab Fusion event, designed to test early-stage start-up ideas aimed at dealing with COVID-19 and other systemic risks.

The Lloyd’s Lab Fusion event ran from July 21-23 and was supported by innovators from more than 10 Lloyd’s of London managing agents, with ideas assessed by a panel of judges from the Lloyd’s Corporation and Market.  RYSKEX program focused on developing cover for widespread, long-lasting power outages in the US power grid. RYSKEX proposed to bring together insurers, customers, and capital markets to develop parametric coverage for this systemic risk.

Lloyd’s said it was singled out for its “highly ambitious plan which supports Lloyd’s commitment to progressing solutions for global industry and government partnerships to fast-track society’s recovery from COVID-19 and provide greater resilience to future systemic risks.”

And last, but not least, the panel will be rounded out by John Donald, who ran his own risk consultancy advising on geopolitical and cyber risk before joining Axis Capital as a Cyber Adviser in February 2019. John is the author of three books. His first book “Catataxis: When more of the same is different” was published in October 2011 by Quartet Books. His second book “Bolt from the Blue: Navigating the new world of corporate crises” was published by Elliott and Thompson in 2013. The third “35 Views of Cyber Risk” was published by AXIS Capital in 2019.

Now that’s a panel not to be missed! Check out this behind the scenes look at the conference by viewing this brief video: https://youtu.be/X6UOlgcGWxQ

Register today for VCIA Virtual!

See you next week!

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Captive U

Law Quadrangle, University of Michigan

One of the great things about being 100% virtual for our conference in August is that students can more easily attend when they don’t need to get flights and hotels and spend time traveling to Vermont this summer.

Every year we invite students from risk management programs around the country, but the travel costs and logistics are an impediment. This year, with the help of many of our friends in the captive industry, we threw open the proverbial doors and have a great mix of students and their professors who will join us this August for the best captive insurance education available!   Not only are there great  sessions for folks new to the intricacies of the captive industry, but with sessions like Evaluating Your Online Presence and Digital Transformation & Opportunities, as well as a Young Professionals forum and The Impact of Emotional Intelligence on Risk Management we think there is a lot to appeal to students and younger professionals alike – OK, and to some of us “older” professionals as well.

Joining us are students and professors from institutions including Roosevelt University in Chicago, Temple University, Georgia State, Appalachian University, Texas A & M, University of Georgia, University of Houston, and St. Mary’s University in Houston. We are incredibly pleased to see these names on our attendee list!

Please let me know if you know of any interested students in any risk management programs; we would love for them to join us!   I look forward to seeing you all virtually in just 2.5 short weeks at VCIA Virtual! View all the details and register for the event here.

Mick Jagger is in the House

Bald musician playing a guitar plugged into an amplifier

Okay, we know this isn’t actually Mick Jagger OR Dave Provost, but you get the idea…

Remember when you could travel to cool places and see all your captive industry friends at one of the main conferences that happened throughout the year? Yeah, the memory is beginning to fade in my mind as well.

However, I do remember the electricity when one of the captive industry’s most famous “rock stars” would enter the room at these events and everybody’s head would turn to get a look. Of course, that person was our own Dave Provost, Deputy Commissioner of Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) – it was like Mick Jagger entered (minus the entourage)!

For all you folks who know Dave, Mick doesn’t readily pop into mind. Dave is friendly, approachable, and has a singing voice like a screech owl (honestly, I have never heard him sing – he may sing like an angel). And let’s not even touch the hair. But captive insurance is the one place where a tiny state like Vermont is the big gorilla and Dave is at the pinnacle of Vermont’s captive world.

So even though you can’t come to Vermont in person this year for our conference, joining VCIA’s Virtual 2020 gives you an opportunity to see Mick, err Dave, in his element. The last event of our three-day conference will be Hot Topics with Dave Provost. Dave will be joined by other highly experienced panelists, for an engaging and interactive discussion on current hot topics impacting the captive insurance industry.

Moderated by Dan Reynolds, editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance Magazine, panelists and audience members alike will share their experience and insight ensuring that attendees are well-informed about current trends in the captive industry. The panel includes Kent Broussard, President of Bluegrass Insurance Company, Inc., an 831-b captive formed in the State of Vermont in 2014 on behalf of Sazerac Company, Inc., one of the top alcoholic beverage suppliers in the world.

Rounding out the group is Dave Tatlock, a director at Strategic Risk Solutions Vermont Ltd. and is responsible for the management of a portfolio of single parent, group and sponsored captive insurance companies domiciled in Vermont and Connecticut.  And last, and certainly not least, is Sandy Bigglestone, Director of Captive Insurance at DFR, and Dave Provost’s righthand woman – hmmmm, perhaps Vermont’s own Lady Gaga?

Join us for this session which will tie together themes discovered during VCIA Virtual and say farewell on an energetic note!  I look forward to seeing you all in August at VCIA Virtual! View all the details and register for the event here.

The Doctor is in the House

Hartwig, Robert photo 2020 smaller

Dr. Robert Hartwig will be a Keynote Speaker at the VCIA Virtual Annual Conference August 11th

I will be stating the obvious here in when I say we are living in unprecedented times. Trade wars, political turmoil, and the beginnings of a hardening market last year has kept the captive industry on its toes with shifting economic trade winds.  On top of that a world-wide pandemic and social unrest in this country, and it’s a wonder how risk managers sleep at night.   We have invited back a keynote to VCIA Virtual 2020 who addressed our conference about 10 years ago to analyze some of the economic effects facing the insurance industry today, and beyond.

I remember Bob saying he had about 90 or slides to get through in his presentation back then but not to worry – he would make good time.  Sure enough, he ran through the slides effortlessly and I had so many members tell me how much they appreciated his keynote.

Dr. Robert Hartwig is clinical associate professor of finance and director of the Risk and Uncertainty Management Center in the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, and the former president and economist for the Insurance Information Institute in New York.

Over the years, Dr. Hartwig has focused his work on improving understanding of key insurance issues across all industry stakeholders including media, consumers, insurers, producers, regulators, legislators, and investors.  At the University of South Carolina, he teaches courses in risk management, insurance, and corporate finance.  He mentors students and serves and serves as a liaison between the university and the private insurance industry. Bob appears frequently in all major media, speaks internationally, and has testified before many Congressional and state committees on a wide variety of insurance issues.

At VCIA Virtual 2020, Bob will speak on the current state of affairs, and the transitioning insurance market, incorporating themes such as the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the industry that will resonate through the rest of the conference. So, come join us for what will be a truly innervating talk!

I look forward to seeing you all in August at VCIA Virtual! View all the details here.