It’s Your Reputation on the Line

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On Monday, August 19, a group of high-powered American executives, including seven of the large commercial insurers, published a statement on the role of shareholders in corporate governance that departs sharply from tradition.  The “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation” put forth by the Business Roundtable asserts that corporations have greater obligations beyond generating profits for shareholders. In short, they are responsible for creating better lives for all their stakeholders.  Putting these parties first and treating them ethically is ultimately what keeps businesses going and the economy growing.

Shareholders have long been corporations’ top priority because disappointing them means withdrawal of their investment at best, and at worst, the potential for securities class action lawsuits. Businesses now operate in an environment of heightened reputation risk that has a tangible impact on income statements. Loss of customer loyalty and diminished brand value are real consequences of social irresponsibility, and these ultimately impact revenue and profit.  As important as the change in priority might be overall, it will add to the growing reputational risk profile of every organization.  That is one of the main reasons VCIA is hosting a webinar on reputational risk and how captive programs can help mitigate it, on October 23rd.

It can be said that reputation is a product of expectations. Often misunderstood and inadequately addressed, reputation risk is the peril of economic harm from leaving stakeholders disappointed and angry. Negative media and social media coverage are often a byproduct, amplifying that disappointment and anger. When reputational crises occur, they impact businesses commercially and financially, and their leadership personally. The August 2019 Business Roundtable declaration raises the stakes.

A captive program can be an effective vehicle for insuring reputational risk. A captive is in the unique position of being able to fund potential losses associated with stakeholder anger and disappointment, and by doing so signal to key stakeholders (employees, creditors & analysts, and regulators) that the company’s governance apparatus is very aware of the peril, and is confident that it is managing the risk well. And if the captive is at least partially reinsured in the open market, it then also demonstrates that an objective third-party has reviewed the company’s practices and is essentially “warrantying” the company’s governance.

So, join us on October 23rd for our webinar featuring Dr. Nir Kossovsky, CEO of Steel City Re, a leading source of integrated reputation risk mitigation solutions and insurances, and Machua Millett, Chief Innovation Officer for FINPRO U.S. and the General Partner Liability Product Leader at Marsh.  Ably moderated by Maigh Wright, an associate actuary with Milliman, this webinar is guaranteed to burnish your reputation!

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

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Parametrics and Nat Cat

floodI participated on the SRS webinar recently about using a captive program for natural catastrophe risks (Nat Cat) and found it quite interesting. Most often, Nat Cat risk is insured with parametric insurance, a type of insurance that does not indemnify the pure loss, but rather issues a set payment upon the occurrence of an objective triggering event, such as an earthquake of a certain magnitude or a hurricane of a specific intensity.  The use of a parametric trigger has been around for some time, but there seems to be growing interest in the tool, especially with the number of natural disasters increasing exponentially every year.

Robert Nusslein, Head, Innovative Risk Solutions Americas, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, effectively described how captives can play a role in parametric insurance.  With insurance markets looking like they are hardening, especially property in natural disaster-prone areas, a new approach needs to be contemplated. As Swiss Re explains, parametric insurance products are linked to reputable, objective third-party sources, which are used to determine an insurance payout. They are designed to provide catastrophe coverage and complement, but not replace, traditional insurance coverage. Using this structure, parametric insurance payouts are quickly determined, easily measured, and effectively eliminate loss adjustment hassles. The proceeds from a parametric insurance payout can be used at the buyer’s full discretion.

Captives can play a variety of roles in this type of scenario.  As Brady Young pointed out, captives allow corporate to transfer risk of its subsidiaries to the parent’s captive insurer. Also, subsidiaries retain risk in their comfort zone and are able to assume it with less negative impact to financial results from Nat Cat or weather events. The captive can assume an appropriate amount of risk, anywhere from 90% to as little as 10%, with a reinsurer behind the captive assuming the balance of risk. Risk can be split in primary and excess layer participations or a percent quota share participation between captive and reinsurer. Reinsurers provide underwriting, structure and pricing expertise for parametric Nat Cat covers and third-party arm’s length pricing verification for the captive and its regulator.

All of this helps captive owners capture some of the benefits of parametric insurance, such as breadth of coverage, speed of loss payments, and supplemental coverage to traditional insurance.  And with the growing risk from natural catastrophes due to climate change, it is important for captive owners to be ready!

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

Rich Smith,
VCIA President

Captives and Debtors

bankcruptcyInteresting news about OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma seeking product liability insurance and general liability coverage by creating a captive insurer.  Purdue asked for permission to set up the captive insurer in federal court on Monday as part of the firm’s filing for bankruptcy protection, as it has been challenging for them to find a commercial solution with a third-party insurer, not surprisingly.  Purdue faces more than 2,600 lawsuits alleging that it helped fuel the U.S. opioid epidemic.

As VCIA Member (and recipient of VCIA’s 2019 Industry Service Award!), Chaz Lavelle of Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP stated recently in a September 17 article in Business Insurance,  “We’ve had situations in the past where an operating company has gone bankrupt but the captive insurer which it has previously set up was fully solvent, continued to operate and pay claims notwithstanding the bankruptcy and the disposition of the company.”

It reminded me of the Vermont captive for the bankrupt firm Enron back in the 90s. Even though the firm was mired in bankruptcy proceedings due to the fraudulent leadership at the top, under the supervision of Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation its captive remained solvent and paid out every one of its claims under its policies in full. Having the captive kept the policy claims separate from the bankruptcy proceedings. Even debtors require various liability, casualty, property and other insurance programs in the ordinary course of their businesses.

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

Rich Smith
VCIA President

May the FASB with you

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Look, the Empire of Accounting has many draconian rules and regulations, but if you are unprepared with Force of knowledge you will be thrust into the Dark Side of your ledger.

OK, enough with the Star Wars rip-off. The Financial Accounting Standard Board (FASB) has been busy at work issuing a variety of new standards. If you have investments, especially equity investments that have been accounted for through Other Comprehensive Income (OCI), you’re about to see a big change as a result of Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2016-01, Financial Instruments Recognition and Measurement, ASU 2018-03, Improvements to Financial Instruments and ASU 2018-13, Changes to the Disclosure Requirements for Fair Value Measurement.

Hopefully you can join us on September 25th at 2:00 p.m. ET for a truly instructive webinar on these changes as we walk through a case study and discuss the impact of obtaining a permitted practice to not adopt these new standards. Additionally, we will provide an update on ASU 2016-13, Financial Instruments – Credit Losses and ASU 2016-02, Leases.

Our panelists will be Sandy D. Griffith, Senior Vice President at Advantage Insurance, and Magali Welch, Partner with Johnson Lambert LLP. Ably moderated by Steve Garwood, Vice President, Treasurer and CFO of EIIA, which is the parent company of two Vermont based captives, with expert content advice from Rebecca James, Principal at Johnson Lambert LLP.

After completing this webinar, you will be able to: cite changes related to accounting for financial instruments; adopt best practice methods for properly accounting for the change in guidance; and identify some impacts (potential and known) of obtaining a permitted practice to not account for this guidance.  Register now, and may the Force of accounting knowledge be with you!

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

We had a great time!

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VCIA Staff left to right: Diane Leach, Rich Smith, Peggy Companion, Elizabeth Halpern, Megan Precourt, Isabelle Halpern (summer intern), Dave Rapuano and Janice Valgoi

Thanks to all who joined us in Burlington earlier this month for another great VCIA captive insurance conference!  As I tell everyone who asks me how the conference went, I have a great time meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends. And the entire VCIA staff feels the same way.

You seem to agree, too: more than 84% of conference survey responses rated our conference the best or better than most. With over 1000 attendees from 44 States and 10 countries, where more than 25% were captive owner and 19% first time attendees. Our annual gathering in August has grown to be the place “Where the Captive World Comes to Meet”!

The conference had great energy and people liked the format and extra touches.  As a few of the  attendees stated the conference is “where the best and the brightest in the captive world come together to keep moving the industry forward”; “a participative educational forum, fostering business and personal relationships that last a lifetime!”; “the place where everyone is willing to share ideas and learn from each other”; “the premier captive insurance conference on the calendar, given its size, its sophistication….if I could only attend one captive conference per year, it would be VCIA.”

Attendees especially liked the new Captive Immersion program that was held on Monday, our Learning Circles which enabled attendees to share ideas and experiences, the exhibitor reception with the special Vermont beer and spirits samplings provided, and our two excellent keynotes: Laura Drabik from Guidewire and astronaut Mike Massimino.

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. A special thank you to our Platinum Sponsors:

  • A.M. Best
  • Kroll Bond Rating Agency
  • Madison Scottsdale
  • Old Republic
  • Performa
  • Wells Fargo
  • State of Vermont

Now after a little break, we are back to work again looking out for the captive industry. We have a bunch of webinars being planned for the rest of the year so keep your eyes on our website!

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

10-Day Countdown

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Just ten days until we open Burlington, Vermont to all you captive insurance professionals! If you have not already done so, please make plans to join us for a week of wonderful education, networking and friendship.

Here is just a smattering of some of the captive owners who will be presenting this year:

  • Andrew Baillie, AES of Global Insurance Company
  • Sean Barnes of United Educators
  • Julie Bordo of PCH Mutual Insurance Co., Inc., a RRG
  • Tracy Hassett of Educators Health Insurance Exchange of New England
  • Tim Herr of Recreation Risk Retention Group
  • Karen Hsi of the University of California
  • Jan Klodowski of Agri-Services Agency LLC & Agrisurance Inc.
  • Troy LePage of HAI Group
  • Heather McClure of Oklahoma University Medical
  • Bill Murray of Church Insurance
  • Tim Padovese of Ophthalmic Mutual Insurance Company (OMIC)
  • Joshua Reding of Life Time Captive Insurance Company
  • Paul Smith of National Insurance and Indemnity Corporation

I hope you all can join us! Click here to register for the VCIA Conference today.

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

Rich Smith

Young at Heart

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Young captive professionals at a recent VCIA event.

Recruiting and training the next generation of captive professionals is a paramount issue for our industry, as everyone knows. Both CICA and NRRA have programs designed to reach out to this group and draw them into the industry.  Fostering newcomers to join the field and eventually step into the roles of our current captive leaders and professionals is an initiative that VCIA takes to heart.

Over the past number of years, VCIA’s Annual Conference has created places and sessions where young professionals can learn from and network with both peers and seasoned professionals as they pick a pathway forward in the captive insurance field.  Besides our NEW Captive Immersion experience, which will familiarize those who are new to the captive industry on the key services, and our annual Captives 101 session that provides a basic overview of captive insurance companies and RRGs, other VCIA sessions designated for young professionals include:

Developing the Next Generation of Captive Industry Leaders, which will explore what is being done in the industry to attract and retain new talent.  According to the Pew Research Center, millennials were the largest portion of the workforce in 2016. As a group they are very connected, having grown up with the internet in their everyday life. In the workforce, they are eager to make a meaningful contribution to the workplace and the greater good. In many ways, this group is helping transform organizations.

Our Young Professionals Forum will provide a great resource particularly for those with fewer than 10 years of captive experience.  Three dynamic facilitators will lead small group discussions about sharpening your speaker skills, how to approach your early career years and work/life balance.  Afterwards, an open forum will occur for a fluid discussion on topics such as transitioning into the workforce, professionalism and meeting work demands in a sometimes-stressful environment.

On top of all that is just the best networking opportunities both “on campus” and “off campus” in the captive industry, so, I hope you all can join us! Click here to register for the VCIA Conference today.

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