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.

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.

I See Fireworks!

Celabration festive new year firework headline or bannner.It’s the Fourth of July weekend, and that means only one thing: we are just a little more than a month away from VCIA Virtual 2020! As you know, VCIA always bring the fireworks when it comes to our annual captive conference, and this year will be no different.

The VCIA Virtual Conference will be a great opportunity for the captive world to meet, socialize, learn, earn professional education credits, hear great keynotes, and have fun in this time of uncertainty and isolation.  We are very excited to present an excellent experience for the captive industry, and have people leave at the end knowing their time was very well spent!

We are providing our attendees with the look and feel of being at an in-person event, by using a very robust 3D digital platform. After all, one of the big reasons the captive world comes to meet in Vermont every summer is the opportunity to network with friends and colleagues. A key element of the platform is that attendees can connect with one another easily, for example in the virtual Captive Lounge, where attendees can swing by and meet up with others.  There will also be games and trivia contests to create fun ways to engage people and get them exploring all the places in the digital platform. Our Exhibit Pavilions will be showcase over 50 3D exhibit booths! And the many educational sessions and forums will be second to none. We are excited for it to all come together and be an excellent experience for attendees, sponsors and our many fine service providers who keep the industry humming.

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

Rich Smith,
VCIA President

A Dramedy Not to Be Missed!

dramedyspeakersLook, nobody wants to be caught in a crisis impacting their captive program and not be prepared. And as we are all dealing with the larger crisis of the pandemic, we can’t take our eye off the day-to-day issues that arise within a captive.  One of the education sessions at VCIA Virtual (our 100% virtual captive conference, if you haven’t kept up) will look at the steps in place to deal with a crisis situation, which can occur no matter how diligent we may be.

Instead of a dry dissertation on the elements of a good crisis management plan, our conference session, called “Crisis Management – A Case Study Dramedy” will explore the reactions, interactions, strategies, and machinations that are all set into motion when a captive or RRG has significant adverse development.  In this “dramedy”, which combines the elements of drama and comedy, the panel will illustrate a situation where adverse development leads to a material reduction in surplus that threatens the company’s stability rating and portends regulatory scrutiny. Various parties will respond to address the cascading circumstances, some more effectively than others.

The panel includes Julie Bordo of PCH Mutual Insurance Company RRG, as moderator, Tina Bukow of Kroll Bond Rating Agency, Gail Newman of Bright Horizons (a captive owner), Dan Petterson of Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation, Kevin Seabury of Opus Investment, Robert Walling of Pinnacle Actuarial Resources, and Troy Winch of Risk Services LLC.  A great group of thespians to give you clarity through observing crisis management in action!

I look forward to seeing you all in August at VCIA Virtual! Register by June 30th for the lowest rates! View all the details here.

Rich Smith,
VCIA President

Summer’s here and it’s Grillin’ Season

 

I know last week I said summer has finally arrived here in Vermont after a tough spring with 80 degrees and sunny, well that’s nothing to the 90 degrees we had the past couple of days. And like I said that means it’s grilling season.

That reminds me that I am looking forward to my grilling of Vermont’s Commissioner of Financial Regulation, Mike Pieciak! Well, not that I am planning on a “grilling”, perhaps just a light “sautéing” instead. Mike is going to join me at the end of the first day of VCIA’s Virtual Conference to discuss.

Commissioner Pieciak will join me in a conversation with me on major issues impacting the captive insurance industry in Vermont, at the NAIC and beyond. We will hear Mike’s thoughts on transformative changes due to the COVID-19, the current regulatory environment, and other things I plan to spring on him.

Now Mike is a very smart guy and pretty unflappable, but I am going to do my best Mike Wallace on him (for all of you old enough to know the famed 60 Minutes reporter). More information to follow – I hope you can join us this August!

Rich Smith
VCIA President

There’s More to the Story…

panelA key component in a captive program’s success is its ability to adapt to changing market conditions, economic turbulence, new & emerging risk and even the recent changes in the definition of employment. Even in the midst of this dangerous pandemic, underlying issues impacting the captive industry were emerging.

VCIA will be hosting a webinar next Thursday, May 14th, that will explore ways to shift captive strategy to respond to the business needs of your parent company and optimize your program in our changing market.  Our presenters will demonstrate captive success with emerging risks, illustrate current challenges and keys to achieving a positive outcome, and explore what questions to ask to create a successful pathway to deal with such unforeseen events such as COVID-19.

Our speakers will be four leading thinkers in the captive industry:  Andrew Baillie is the Program Director, Global Insurance for The AES Corporation, a global power producer and distributor, where he supports risk management oversight and the procurement of insurance, as well as managing the company’s large, Vermont-based Captive Insurance Company; Steven Bauman works for AXA XL serving as Head of Global Programs and Captive Practice in North America; Ed Koral is a managing director with BDO’s Insurance Risk Advisory group; and Christine Brown is Assistant Director with the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation – Captive Division, where she directly supports the Director of Captive Insurance and Deputy Commissioner of Captives with licensing, industry outreach and strategic planning.

Join us to learn how to remain agile during these challenging times. Go to www.vcia.com and register today.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you!

Rich Smith
VCIA President