We are launched! On Monday of this week registration opened for the 2023 VCIA Conference, and already over 160 attendees have registered to attend. On the outside, it looked like we just ‘flipped the switch,’ but in all honesty that could not be further from the truth! The lead up to the launch of registration has been a meticulous process, one that involved a significant amount of time on the backend to ensure that the registration procedure can run properly for everyone.
Many logistics go into managing the conference experience as well. It’s a big mark of logistical success when attendees don’t even notice because everything is running so smoothly, and that is our goal! A look behind the scenes shows that the VCIA staff have been working on the details that make the conference rev – from hotel contract to our great conference logo – reflecting the summer colors of Vermont. From transportation to sampling the food offerings at the hotel (Somehow, I missed out on that job!)
Equally important to logistics, is the actual conference schedule that has been materializing for months. Since September of 2022 (Yes, less than a month after the end of the 2022 conference!), a dedicated group of captive professionals have been working as the VCIA’s Conference Task Force to solicit, evaluate, hone and finalize a broad range of continuing professional education. Working closely with staff, they have also addressed issues such as safety and security, and the integration of stellar social and networking events into the program.
Staff and the Conference Task Force have also work hard on securing the keynote speakers who will bring something different and relevant to the attendees. This year we are delighted to have retained the services of Juliette Kayyem & Jeff Kreisler. Juliette is a CNN National Security Analyst, a Pulitzer Prize Finalist, and a former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security. Jeff is the head of Behavioral Science at JP Morgan as well as being a former stand-up comedian! That’s a combination I can’t wait to experience.
So, come join us and about 1,000 of your peers as we explore new challenges and innovations. Build effective and useful contacts across the formal and informal events, and have an outstanding time in beautiful Burlington, Vermont!
In the coming months, I intend to highlight a number of facets to demonstrate how The VCIA Conference stands out in the captive conference circuit. We will detail our special events, our keynote speakers (Shh! waiting to reveal them during registration week), the wide variety of services offered in our comprehensive exhibit hall, thanks to our exhibitors.
I will also go in depth on our educational topics – a source of deep pride for VCIA. Above all, our conference is about the people, about you! It starts with the people behind the scenes – the VCIA Conference Task Force, the topic coordinator and speakers, the VCIA Board and Staff, the #VCIA2023 Sponsors – then includes the variety of captive professionals from all walks of life and corners of the world who make our event so special. I don’t want to give it away, but let me just hint that we have a special video dropping during registration week which will illustrate how VCIA is truly the place where the captive world comes to meet.
So, just as a primer, let me provide the basics:
#VCIA2023 is four jam packed days of captive education, networking and business opportunities, in lovely Burlington, Vermont starting Monday August 7th with Captive Immersion, as the full conference slate picks up Tuesday August 8th and goes through Thursday August 10th.
#VCIA2023 is for everyone, not just service providers and captives domiciled in Vermont! In fact, we have a number of other domiciles who will be exhibiting in the exhibit hall, and many regulators and government officials from other states and countries attend. VCIA is very happy about this and it goes to my ethos of building out “a bigger pie” which everyone can eat from.
On top of that #VCIA2023 is productive for those who have been in the captive industry for more than 30 years, and those who maybe have been in the captive industry for just 3 days! We have advanced topics as well as Captive Immersion and Captive101. Plus, the VCIEL will be playing a major role at the conference in engaging rising professionals and students.
Jamie Feehan is a dear friend of the VCIA and plays a major role in our legislative efforts on the state level. For this year’s Legislative Day, he kindly answered some questions so VCIA Members could get to know him and how he supports their captive interests. We now publish Jamie’s interview in its unabridged form, which details how a captive bill is put into law. As of this writing, the 2023 Vermont captive bill is pending but anticipated to be signed into law by Governor Phil Scott without any issue.
Thank you for all the great work you do, Jamie!
Can you introduce yourself and share a bit about your background?
I am Jamie Feehan, and am the Government Relations Director at Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer PC, a Burlington firm. I am the firm’s lead lobbyist on behalf of our clients that have an interest in Vermont legislative and regulatory matters. I’ve been with Primmer and its previous iterations for about 25 years. Prior to that, I worked on Capitol Hill for a Congressman from Maryland for several years. I have also done political campaign work for that Congressman and for others here in Vermont.
What is your relationship to VCIA and how do you support the association?
I have been working with the VCIA on its Vermont legislative and regulatory initiatives for most of the time I’ve been at Primmer. That includes working with Kevin and his predecessors, the VCIA Board and its Legislative Committee.
Members highly value legislative advocacy. Can you share why it’s so important and what goes into it?
Vermont is the country’s leading domicile for captive insurance and among the world’s leaders. Reaching that point is not without effort and there are many reasons for that success, including legislative advocacy. This includes annual captive insurance legislation that continuously adds new features and tools to the captive statutes, or down to the basic amendments to existing law that make the law operate more smoothly for captives and practitioners. The Vermont Legislature understands how important the captive industry is to Vermont, and that there are other domiciles that would like to have similar success, even at the expense of Vermont. Getting the Legislature to have that understanding is the result of the efforts of the VCIA and DFR in educating legislators of all political stripes on what captive insurance is, and what it means to Vermont. This may be tied to legislative initiatives, VCIA Legislative Days, and more. This educational effort and advocacy is continuous as the faces in the Legislature change, and as the captive insurance industry evolves.
Why is VCIA’s Legislative Day an important process of legislative advocacy on the Vermont state level?
It really ties to the educational effort the VCIA undertakes to help position the captive industry for success in the Legislature. It is our chance to put a face on the industry through attendance by captive owners, management folks, attorneys, and others in the industry – who can each explain how captive insurance plays a role in their professional lives. Moreover, it is a chance for legislators to see and hear of examples of captive owners, the reason a captive was formed, the types of business put through the captive, and the reason Vermont was chosen as a domicile. Most legislators will not know what a captive insurance company is or does, but they (hopefully) learn enough from interactions on Legislative Day, and through their colleagues on committees that dive deeper into captive insurance, that it is something they should embrace and continue to foster.
There are a lot of new faces in the Vermont House and Senate this year. What implications does that have for the VCIA and how we represent the interests of members?
Vermont is a citizen legislature made up of folks who either have the time and flexibility to serve, or take a leave from their job to serve while the Legislature is in session – and frankly throughout the year. This model doesn’t necessary promote the “career” politician and results in frequent turnover among the 180 members. Through a confluence of events, a third of that 180 is new this session. For that reason, the VCIA needs to double-down on its educational and outreach efforts with the Legislature and its members to again position ourselves for success with the new Legislature.
Can you share what kind of captive developments you expect to see in the State for 2023?
I could probably characterize the amendments to the captive law under consideration this year as largely technical or housekeeping in nature. Nevertheless, they do represent the constant tweaks I referenced that keep Vermont’s laws fresh and operationally smooth. They also give the Legislature exposure to captive insurance in the form of legislation. The Legislature has come to understand they are an important cog in Vermont’s success story by being responsive to legislative needs of the industry and regulators. In fact, the veterans there have come to expect annual legislation. Plus, you never know. There’s always time for more significant initiatives to be introduced while the Legislature is in session!
First of all, the numbers. Both conferences had strong attendance, both up from 2022 levels, together with a full exhibit hall. Then secondly the content. As in 2022, almost all presenters were upbeat about their own captive, or, in the case of service providers, their pipeline of new and expanding clients. And then lastly, the “chatter.” A standard opening question of mine is, “how’s business” and this was almost invariably met with a plaintive request for more resources in terms of staff, because there is so much business to take on.
So how does this inform the VCIA as we develop our services to members? Some of the hotels for our own conference in August of this year are already approaching capacity, and this is before we even open registration in May! So, we are working with our partners in the Burlington lodging industry to secure additional rooms and even additional hotels to meet the expected high demand in a small marketplace. Then, addressing some of the workforce issues that I’ve heard, we are about to announce some strong new initiatives that will hopefully pay dividends in expanding the available workforce for the captive industry, especially in Vermont.
Lastly, it only remains for me to recognize March 17th, Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona daoibh, go athas sé lúcháir orainn go léir!
I am lucky enough to moderate a conversation with the above captive financial data wizards, and I wanted to hear from them beforehand why they are excited for next week’s webinar.
During the webinar, Amy Angell of Milliman, Inc., plans to review surplus levels, identify ways to monitor claims performance, and to evaluate whether risk management programs are having the desired outcomes on the loss experience. She’ll do this all by looking at the hard data of the financial records of the 2021 EOY domiciled captives of the State of Vermont, listed by type of captive and by industry type.
Next to Amy will be her accomplished colleagues, Becky Aitchison, Captive Insurance Examiner for the State of Vermont DFR, and Bill Piel, President of the Opus Institutional Markets.
Becky is basically the source keeper the data aggregated and shared annually by the DFR. She will explain the key ratios used by the DFR for the surveillance of your captive’s financial health, and what markers she looks for in determining how a certain captive may or may not be thriving.
From an investment perspective, Bill will let you in on the primary reasons for establishing an investment policy and how the DFR data can help assist with developing an appropriate asset allocation unique to your captive. He will also identify ways to monitor investment performance and evaluate whether results are having the desired impact on your financial statements.
What makes Bill excited for the webinar? “With negative year-to-date investment returns reducing both profitability and surplus for captives, it is an opportune time to discuss best practices in benchmark selection for insurance entities that not only considers investment risk tolerances, but also the connection to the risks being underwritten by the captive.”
So, we have the expert who comes up with the data, and the other experts who will explain how to use the latest data to your benefit. It’s a win win!
I look forward to facilitating a data-driven conversation that looks into how your captive – and the Vermont captive landscape at large – has faired in the last financial year, and what that may say about the future. Remember to register, and “see you” there!
United Educators is a reciprocal risk retention group that provides the insurance coverage needs of more than 1,600 members ranging from large university systems to small, independent K-12 schools. Joe Carter’s responsibility is to set the strategy for UE’s growth. This includes planning the business development and distribution strategies that ensure success. He is also responsible for teams that manage UE’s brand and constituent experience strategy, the Voice of Constituent (VOC) program, digital experience, member support, marketing, and communications. Joe recently was elected to the Board of Directors at VCIA, and we sat down with him to ask a few questions.
1. Tell us how you got involved with insurance and risk management. How did you come to UE? The early days in my professional journey were rooted in large commercial insurance companies with fantastic training programs for new employees. I began by handling first and third-party claims in an environment best described as “rapid fire” for America’s second largest insurance company at the time. I had the rare opportunity to rotate through other functions of the company including underwriting, risk management consulting, front-line sales management, and leadership coaching. Then I started an independent insurance agency/brokerage that I grew and sold to a larger agency owned by a regional bank. After a couple of additional executive leadership roles, I found this wonderful Risk Retention Group (RRG) captive that focused on education, a sector that I think is so important to our world. Joining United Educators was a chance to apply all my experiences to lead UE’s business development strategy, marketing, and member experience – a home run opportunity for me.
2. UE is celebrating its 35-year anniversary. What do you provide your members? We continue to deliver the third-party liability coverages that drove our creation by educational institutions in 1987. A significant part of our work is delivered well before any claims call comes in. We research and build training, loss prevention courses, and risk management tools that not only help prevent bad things from happening, but also help institutions prepare for bad things that are likely to happen. We are proud that these risk management resources are highly valued and utilized by educational institutions. Our resolutions team partners with institutions as soon as there is a concern about a potential claims matter. They help strategize early, while taking a Cool Head, Warm Heart® approach to resolving claims that recognizes the value of the relationships our members have with their students, staff, and communities.
All captives need to focus on their differentiation from commercial markets and think hard about why they exist. There needs to be a shared understanding about what captives are really accomplishing for their owners. I believe captives have a unique opportunity to help owners to see risks that lie ahead using trends from a purer set of data and experience.
3. What have you seen in the time you have been there? Can you tell us a little about the culture at UE? There are many liability lessons from education claims over the 35 years: preparation is as important as seeking prevention, active and early intervention usually is more effective than the “wait and see” tactics we’ve seen used by other carriers, and treating claimants with respect and empathy is an important part of loss mitigation, to name a few. Our culture is shaped by being member-owned. We’re serving members amid upheaval of the education sector, market fluctuations, and skyrocketing claims and defense costs. Enjoying a personal connection to our members drives an ethos of excellence in member service.
4.What are some of the challenges you see today for your members and what innovations is UE bringing to them to meet those challenges? We see several challenges that have been pervasive with new ones emerging. In recent years, we’ve monitored how demographic shifts are affecting enrollments and the top lines for many institutions. And we all think about the financial and operational risks going forward for tuition-dependent institutions. There are also real concerns about keeping campuses operating as healthy and safe environments for in-person learning. Most campuses, including K-12 sites, are concerned about student mental health for good reasons. And many are concerned about employee mental health as we transition through the next phase of this pandemic. And there is the ever-present challenge that all employers face in managing risks such as employment and misconduct issues involving high-profile and highly-valued employees. In the education arena, these include coaches, researchers, faculty, presidents, or trustees. UE’s risk research and resolutions teams work constantly to develop useful tools that help break these complex exposures down into tactical and useful programs that help campuses effectively plan and train administrators, employees, and students on staying healthy and safe.
5.What are some of the challenges facing UE as an organization and the captive insurance/RRG industry as a whole? UE faces many of the same challenges that most providers do. We are seeing loss inflation that goes beyond just a rise in the average cost of a claim or even a category of claims. The rise in claims costs and awards reflects a societal trend that is punishing institutions of any type without regard to the nexus between bad verdicts and the rising costs of insurance going forward. Insurer investment strategies aren’t delivering much return in recent environments, so there is great pressure to underwrite and price your business accurately and on time. That is a hard pill for owners to swallow during times of rising loss costs. All captives need to do their best job of speaking this truth to their owners. And when we are doing this correctly, owners understand that the captive’s health is directly tied to their ability to manage risks and losses. All captives need to focus on their differentiation from commercial markets and think hard about why they exist. There needs to be a shared understanding about what captives are really accomplishing for their owners. I believe captives have a unique opportunity to help owners to see risks that lie ahead using trends from a purer set of data and experience.
6.Why does Vermont fit UE’s mission and business plan as your domicile of choice? I believe that one of the best things that Vermont does for domiciled captives is allowing and encouraging open dialogue. They do a really good job at getting to know the organizations doing business in and around the state. They show up at industry conferences not just to speak and deliver content, but to also listen and learn. That’s a level of engagement that allows them to be helpful to innovation while they ensure compliance. No one wants to see bad captives formed or operating in the market. I believe Vermont’s approach to engagement keeps the marketplace respectable and healthy for consumers of these services.
All captives have that opportunity to focus forward to give owners more research, more knowledge, more attention, and better service than any other option in the market.
7.What are you most proud of as you look back over the past 35 years for UE? There are many things that I could talk about. It is impressive how our captive and its membership have grown so much since I joined. The staff I have the pleasure of working with and learning from every day are smart and bring a rich diversity of experience. They work collaboratively and challenge us leaders to think hard, consider much, and act decisively. We’ve also been working hard to foster and improve our culture of inclusivity. I am proud of how our teams contribute in many ways. And we’re just getting started. I know we will continue to grow our culture of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
8.Is there anything that we didn’t cover that you wanted to talk about? I think captive organizations represent the best in business relationships between owner and provider. Being able to do this constituent experience work on behalf of those that you serve just demonstrates a purity in relationship that cannot happen with the influence of third-party shareholders. And all captives have that opportunity to focus forward to give owners more research, more knowledge, more attention, and better service than any other option in the market. In fact, there should really be no better experience available when an effective captive option is present. No other option can to focus and deliver like we do.
A chill is in the air here in Vermont and autumn officially arrived yesterday. Time to get on boots and your long sleeve plaids! And after doing a deep dive on the results of our annual conference, we shift attention to Gotham – New York City – where Janice Valgoi and I host a cadre of experts who will answer your questions and point you in the right direction on how to properly form, manage, and serve a captive. Do you miss the buzz from our conference? Then catch it again in the Big Apple.
When: October 26th from 1-5:45pm.
Where: The beautiful EY US Headquarters. That’s 1 Manhattan West, 395 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001.
Why: An easy one: to see me. Or if you’re not keen on me regaling you about rugby or motorcycles, earn CPE/VT CLE credit, get your questions answered by the industry giants like Sandy Bigglestone, learn a step-by-step blueprint for captive success, and simply be in the room with high-powered captive players.
What: We break down the afternoon into three parts: 1) An overview of captives and their formations, and how to find a supportive domicile for your captive. Brittany Nevins and The State of Vermont will provide information in this respect. 2) Captive Success Stories. What makes a captive successful and how do you reach your captive goals? Dianne Salter, President of Mountain Laurel Risk Retention Group, will share specific facts and experiences that helped give shape to the high value of her captive. (There are many more erudite captive minds who will be speaking in Parts I and II. See below! 3) Networking Reception: Build relationships and find opportunities in the City That Never Sleeps. And be sure to find me and say hello!
Who: EY is generously providing the space and is a sponsor of the Roadshow, along with The State of Vermont, AM Best, and Marsh Captive Solutions. For the Roadshow speakers, VCIA, as always, presents a stellar lineup of seasoned professionals who have decades of experience to impart to you. I personally want to thank EY’s Mikhail Raybshteyn and Jim Bulkowski for working with us to put on this fruitful event.
I finally came around to writing that personal $100 donation check to ICCIE. It’s in honor of A.I. Insurance’s Cameron MacArthur, who guessed the closest number to the #VCIA2022 attendee count, 986! I also want to acknowledge our friend George Levine of KPMG. He correctly answered all staff trivia at the conference and won the $50 Vermont Flannel Company gift card. We went through several wrong submissions before coming up with George’s! I hope George found something to clad himself in for the New England autumn. For the rest of the blog, I want to give it over to you, the fine folks that made #VCIA2022 a complete success. VCIA staff closely read over your post conference feedback, and we’ve already identified areas that we can improve on for next year. We also appreciate the support and gratitude, as we went all in to make it possible. So without further ado, here are some comments that really made us smile. (As a side note, if you haven’t filled out the conference survey and would still like to, get in touch with Francis at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Job well done, VCIA! That was an incredible conference and I think anyone that attended would agree, you are clearly the best.
Thank you for all your, and your team’s efforts in putting this together. Excited to be here (1st-timer)!
The best organized conference I’ve attended. Keep it up!
A phenomenal opportunity for a young professional in the captive industry to become more integrated in the community at large!
I love VCIA! It truly is where the captive world comes to meet. Anyone doing captives is here so it’s a must-go.
The best US conference to attend.
Professional sessions with strong attendance of key players in the captive space.
Everyone’s willing to make new contacts and build out their networks at VCIA!
Excellent information from thought leaders in the captive industry.
Vermont Conference is the best.
Best in class!
The people and the good times make this a great conference.
The staff at VCIA is very supportive and helps make it one of the best conferences of the year.
At VCIA all attendees genuinely want others to have a positive experience.
If you do anything related to captive insurance, you have to come to VCIA. Simple as that!
Continuity. Experience. Expertise. 3 reasons (among many) for why Vermont is the Gold Standard for captive domicile decisions. The same 3 reasons describe Sandy Bigglestone, who this week was appointed as the new Deputy Commissioner of the Captive Insurance Division. Since the NBA Finals are underway, I’m inclined to say this is a slam dunk choice for everyone interested in captives in Vermont!
The Board, staff and members of the VCIA are delighted that Vermont Governor Phil Scott knew exactly where to turn to lead the division into a profitable future, and we join the entire industry, in Vermont and beyond, in congratulating Sandy. She is hardly a new face to the captive industry, and I hope that she will forgive me when I mention that she is 25 years into her career at the DFR. I said it once and I’ll say it again, Sandy will ensure stability, consistency, and quality that is the hallmark of regulation in Vermont, while also challenging staff and other stakeholders to develop and improve.
Many major captive players enthusiastically received the news of Sandy’s appointment. Here are some snippets.
Vermont Governor Phil Scott: “Sandy has decades of experience in licensing and regulating captives in Vermont, the top domicile in the country. It made sense to look within for the best person to lead the industry and the obvious choice was Sandy.
Sandy’s soon-to-be predecessor Dave Provost: “Sandy will carry on the mission of the captive division and be a thoughtful regulator. She has the experience and skills and new ideas to help guide the industry forward.”
Mary Ellen Moriarty, VP of Property & Casualty at EIIA. “Sandy is a polished professional, goes the extra mile when necessary, and wants to see us thrive. She is the perfect person to guide Vermont.”
“Sandy is a natural leader, and we are happy to have her stepping into this role,” said Interim DFR Commissioner Kevin Gaffney.
Upwards and onwards to the Sandy Bigglestone and the Vermont Captive Industry…see you all in August!
Meticulously planning, securing keynotes and hammering out the schedule, we’ve waited all year for this and now the “gates are opened” for our first in-person conference in three years. We can’t wait to gather with the captive industry’s best and brightest this August in Burlington.
We’re officially launched! Please visit our conference registration page to sign up for the biggest and strongest captive insurance event this summer on the global calendar. No matter your experience level, you will find so much in our conference that will develop you professionally and advance your career. We have a full slate of dynamic educational sessions, curated networking and benchmarking events, and an environment conducive for making business deals. Simply put, you are sure to add to you captive knowledge at the 2022 VCIA Conference, and more than that, it will be a triumphant celebration of the captive industry at large. Be sure to follow the #VCIA2022 hashtag on Twitter and LinkedIn.
I should mention (before I enlist you in another conference prize opportunity!) that I highly recommend booking your hotel and travel flight plans as soon as possible in order to avoid any complications. There are rooms still available at the VCIA group rate, but they are going fast, so head to our conference lodging page and be directed to local hotels who carry our group rate.
I’m a horse racing fan and I enjoy placing some modest bets down when I’m at the track. In that spirit, we are expecting a banner year, and as insurance professionals you are all concerned with risk and the odds that something might or might not occur. So, I introduce you to the VCIA version of ‘How Many Jelly Beans are in the Jar?’ I believe that our total attendance count will be 1,048. Are you taking that over or under? My guess includes exhibitors, staff and all classifications of attendees – i.e. anyone with a name badge! Let me know your number, and if I’m the closest, I will make a $50 personal donation to ICCIE (www.iccie.org), the captive insurance industry’s educational non-profit. If someone beats me, I will make a $100 donation in their name! We will, of course, also recognize the best prognosticator! Send your guesses to email@example.com