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

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

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.

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

The F.B.I.

fbi FThose of us of a certain age can remember with absolute clarity the start of the popular show in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The announcer, in a strong, determined voice would introduce, “The F.B.I… starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.” and then we would have an hour-long drama whereby the eponymous organization would hunt down one bad guy after the other.

Well, at this year’s VCIA 2020 Virtual we may not have such a dramatic opening, and the bad guys now hide in the dark web, but the thrill is still there. Joining us on August 12th will be FBI Special Agent Matthew Wabby, currently assigned to the white-collar squad in Albany, NY, investigating corruption, fraud, money laundering and related crimes.  With his panel, he will explore how companies should respond to an increasingly complex and changing set of rules as our business environment and society move ever more quickly into the digital sphere.

Special Agent Wabby will be joined by a group of highly placed cyber and captive insurance experts:

  • Chris Giovino, who leads a practice for Aon when clients have suffered a loss due to crime, employee malfeasance or fidelity related matters;
  • Heather McClure, JD, LLM, Chief Risk Officer, OU Medicine and Executive Director of Operations, OU Physicians, who leads their Vermont-based captive insurance company; and
  • Shiraz Saeed of Starr Insurance Companies, the national practice leader for Cyber Risk responsible for the strategic direction and expansion of the Cyber Risk products and services.

Cyber-attacks are becoming more sophisticated. Organized crime now uses former intelligence members for more sophisticated attacks, broadening the nature of their attacks, and increasing their frequency. An ever-changing set of regulations from governments around the global compounds the difficulty of managing against cyber risks.

Join us to learn some positive ways to shield against cyber-attacks and respond to breaches if they do occur.  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.

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

Memorial Day

Summer has finally arrived here in Vermont after a tough spring. 80 degrees and sunny – it makes me yearn for a barbeque this weekend.

As we all take time to be with our loved ones as best we can this weekend, we must also think about the folks on the front lines dealing with the pandemic on a daily basis. Everyone from  ER nurses and doctors (who went into their careers knowing these risks) to grocery store workers, hardware store clerks, social workers and public transportation workers (who have been thrust into unforeseen and at times impossible positions during this time). We owe each of them an enormous debt of gratitude. As I sit here safe at my kitchen table (now my executive suite), I recognize that I am privileged in this scenario, and that others are not.

If you haven’t done so already, reach out to those in your community who are on the front lines.  They might not be able to spend this weekend with loved ones, friends, and family. A sincere thank you to a minimum wage store clerk may be extra appreciated at this time. And, of course, reach out to your own family and friends and stay connected. Human contact, no matter how much social distancing is required, is more important than ever. And being appreciative of others who are in harm’s way to keep us all safe, is paramount.

Have a peaceful Memorial Day weekend. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Now, That’s Dedication!

ed koral in closet

Note the VCIA Conference bag in the background : )

We are all working under trying circumstances these days as we work our way through this pandemic. But here is an example I think we can all agree goes above and beyond. This is an actual picture of Ed Koral, one of our intrepid panelists during yesterday’s VCIA webinar on Adapting your Captive Program to a Shifting Insurance Market. Talk about adapting!

Ed is a managing director with BDO’s Insurance Risk Advisory Group, a longtime VCIA member, former board member and recipient of VCIA’s vaunted Captive Crusader award in 2019. He is currently working from his home in New York City (COVID-19 ground zero) and has to share both physical and mental space with his wife and two children. Because of the noisy work going on outside his building he needed to use a closet as his studio for the webinar. As fellow presenter Andrew Baillie of AES said, it’s a little Harry Potteresque.

Thank you, Ed! And thank you Andrew, Steve Bauman of AXA XL, and Christine Brown from Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation for a great presentation.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you!