Good NRRA; Bad NRRA

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAzPAAAAJDNkYzk4YzczLTZlYzYtNDM3NS05ODUzLTdmNDVjNDM3MDc3NgI just returned from the annual NRRA conference in Chicago last night. I know, NRRA conference? I talk a lot about fixing NRRA in Washington (maybe incessantly) but this the “good NRRA” I am talking about: The National Risk Retention Association; not the Nonadmitted and Reinsurance Reform Act.

Since Vermont is home to almost half of all RRGs licensed, it is a little like old home week in the Windy City. Many of the panelists are Vermonters or have strong connections to VCIA, such as Dan Labrie, Clare Bello, Stephanie Mapes, Michael Bemi, Nancy Gray, Tina Truex McCuin and Tim Padovese. Yours truly moderated a panel of professors and students from two risk management programs in Chicago for a very interesting view on what the industry needs to do to attract (and hold) the next generation of RRG leaders. Of course, DFR luminaries Dave Provost and Sandy Bigglestone were on two different panels providing their sought-out thoughts and wisdom on a number of issues affecting the RRG world.

Congratulations to Michael Bemi who was awarded the Karen Cutts Visionary award. This award is named for Karen who was an inspirational leader and advocate for the risk retention industry and the founder of the Risk Retention Reporter. Michael recently retired as President and CEO of the National Catholic Risk Retention Group and truly lives up to the accolades of the award. Even though retired, the good news for all of us at VCIA is that he will be joining us next year at our conference as a recently minted Honorary Member of the association!

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Alexa, manage my claims

Does emerging artificial intelligence-focused insurtech provide more opportunities for captives? That’s a question confronting our industry with the growing trend of automated data analytics in insurance.

bigstock-Funny-white-robot-stay-with-pe-13405670

At the same time, Munich Re reported its US-based insurtech platform, Slice Labs, has launched its on-demand homeshare insurance product across 13 states. Slice’s insurance product is specifically designed for homeshare hosts who participate in platforms such as AirBnb or HomeAway, and covers the time period hosts rent their homes out.  Machine learning, which is a branch of artificial intelligence that gives computers pattern recognition and computational learning capabilities, is gaining momentum in the insurance industry.  Specifically, 54% of the almost 200 insurance executives surveyed said that their organization was using machine learning to support predictive analytical modelling functions. Furthermore, 70% of those who deployed the technology applied it to risk modelling, while 45% used it to develop demand models, and another 36% employed it for fraud detection.

As I am sure all of you remember in a past blog (you know, the one with the picture of me and Beyoncé – one of my faves) I took your valuable time to ramble on about this trend, focusing on a peer-to-peer insurance start-up called Lemonade. Lemonade, an artificial intelligence-focused insurtech company, more than doubled its clients in two months, according to its co-founder, from 6,000 customers at the end of March to about 14,300 by the end of May.

Having more insurance companies employ machine learning technology in their underwriting and modelling could mean more opportunity for organizations with risks that don’t fit the “emerging algorithm” to utilize captives.  Not that captive insurers and service providers aren’t using the emerging insurtech technologies as well; just that the bespoke nature of captives could further differentiate them from traditional insurance as the robots take over!

I look forward to hearing from you.

Rich Smith
VCIA President

 

 

Through the Roof! Vermont Celebrates 1,100th Licensed Captive Insurance Company

The Staup-chartte of Vermont just announced that the Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) has licensed Vermont’s 1,100th captive insurance company. AssureCap Indemnity, LLC was licensed as a Sponsored Captive Insurance Company. It was formed by Assurance Agency, Ltd., which was recently named the 41st largest insurance broker in the United States by Business Insurance magazine and is now the largest independent insurance brokerage in Illinois.

According to the announcement, Assurance Agency, Ltd. President Daniel Klaras said Vermont was an easy choice.  “We know how important it is to be in an environment that has an established track record with proven experience,” he said, “so when we compared experience, governmental support and the state’s long-standing tradition of quality regulation, we knew Vermont was the place to be.”  Amen, Brother!

As most of you know, Vermont is the largest captive insurance domicile in the U.S. and the third largest in the world.  Congratulations to the State of Vermont’s Captive Team! Why would you be anywhere else?

Thank you all very much, and I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Thoughts and Prayers

Just wanted to add VCIA’s voice of concern to all those caught in hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  We often talk in abstractions about risk assessment and property damage and insurable risk in our business when natural disasters hit, but when you see the pictures of devastation and hear about the impact to people’s lives it puts into perspective the havoc these things bring.

A bunch of Vermonters were about to head to South Carolina next week for their captive conference and just got word that they had to cancel, which I am sure is the right decision. However, we understand what a difficult one it was and how disappointing to have to reschedule (to say the least) after so much planning and hard work. Our thoughts are with our friends Jay, Jeff and all others – stay safe, our Carolinian captive family!

Thank you all very much, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Rich Smith,
VCIA President

Back to work!

the-office-headerwithrich

Thank you to everyone who joined us in beautiful Burlington, Vermont, a couple of weeks ago for the VCIA Annual Conference! Without a doubt, it was a terrific 2 ½ days with great programs, networking and events. With over 1000 attendees from 44 States (plus the Virgin Islands) and 9 countries, where roughly 23% were captive owners and 18% first-timers, our annual gathering in August has grown to be THE captive insurance forum!

The conference had great energy – people liked the fresh format changes and extra touches, and, as one attendee stated “the enthusiasm for the captive industry shone throughout all aspects of the event.”  The learning formats and interactivity of the event were also held in high standing.  Many thanks to our sponsors and exhibitors without whom we could not put on such an event, as well as to the hundreds of volunteers who make it happen.

Now after a little break, we are back to work again looking out for the captive industry. In case you missed it, we hosted a webinar Wednesday on the recent Avrahami decision regarding the use of the 831(b) tax election for small captives. Chaz Lavelle, Partner at Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP, and Dan Kusaila, Tax Partner at Crowe Horwath LLP, provided terrific analysis not only on what the opinion says, but also what it means. Avrahami is the first court case involving a captive taxed under section 831(b).   If you missed it, you can purchase a recording of the webinar through VCIA’s Captive EDU.

Other VCIA webinars on the docket include Short Duration Contracts coming up on September 14, State of the Union for Captives October 18 with Jim McIntyre and I summarizing all things legislatively current, Reinsurance Marketplace Trends in November and our annual Captive Taxation Update webinar December 14.  Notices will be sent by email once registration is open, or check our site.

Thank you all very much, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Rich Smith
VCIA President