Playing Well in the Insurtech Sandbox

Concept of Insurance policyLegislation to enable insurtech experimentation and innovation in Vermont is on its way to the Governor’s desk for his signature. In the next week or so, Governor Phil Scott is expected to sign the insurance and securities bill (S-131).  Among other things, this bill creates an insurtech “sandbox” which will allow more R&D in this area with specific guidelines. It also updates Vermont’s surplus lines laws.

The regulatory sandbox in S-131 will provide the flexibility necessary to accommodate new concepts at the same speed as insurance technology develops. It does so by lowering or eliminating the hurdles facing this sector in bringing developments to market amid an insurance regulatory landscape that does not always accommodate such development. Not everyone will be able to play in the sandbox environment, as eligibility criteria limits the number of clients and a limited time period for the developers is part of the package. Overall, though, it’s a great step forward.

Earlier this year, Commissioner of Financial Regulation Mike Pieciak and Secretary of State Jim Condos signed a memorandum of understanding outlining their collaborative efforts to explore emerging blockchain technology and its use in the digital recordkeeping practices of the captive insurance industry.  They jointly issued a Request for Information (RFI) to identify vendors that may work with the State to launch a pilot program allowing new captive insurance companies to register with the Secretary of State using blockchain technology.  The pilot program will help the state identify areas where the use of blockchain technology in regulatory and other government business may increase data security and reduce costs for residents and those doing business in Vermont.  There were more than 20 submissions which the department is currently reviewing.

The support of the insurtech sector and the blockchain pilot program are great examples of Vermont’s openness to technology trials and innovations in our State, and Vermont’s awareness that the insurance industry as a whole is ripe for innovation.

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

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Lights, Camera, Act(ion)!

bill signing blog

Governor Phil Scott signs Vermont’s updated captive bill on April 18, 2019. Behind him from left to right are Ben Gould (Paul Frank + Collins), Ian Davis (State of Vermont Department of Economic Development) and Mike Marcotte (Chair of the House Commerce Committee)

As I mentioned in my blog a couple of weeks ago, the Vermont legislature passed this year’s captive bill pretty quickly and all we were waiting for was the Governor’s signature to make it officially
an Act.

Yesterday, at the Governor’s ceremonial office in the State House, Governor Scott did just that! Surrounded by VCIA members the Governor signed this year’s captive bill into law strengthening Vermont’s captive regulation in a variety of areas. This year’s bill proposed several updates, including modifications to the captive examination schedule and improvements to the statute governing group captive investments. The enhancements included in this year’s bill highlight the state’s ability to work closely in partnership with Vermont’s Governor and state legislature to ensure its captive law remains the industry gold standard.

Along with State officials, those participating included VCIA legislative chair Ben Gould of Paul Frank + Collins, John James from Performa, Mat Robitaille and Connor Duffy from KeyBank, Steve Killoran and Rich Litchfield from Maple Capital,
Michelle Ambrose and Linda Elliott of Marsh, and Christina Kindstedt
from Advantage Insurance Management.

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

Rich Smith
VCIA President

 

Vermont has built an ARC (Affiliated Reinsurance Company)

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At a cyber security roundtable hosted by Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation on May 17, Vermont’s Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill creating a new reinsurance option for U.S. companies affected by a key provision of the U.S. tax overhaul.

The half-day roundtable provided a discussion of emerging cybersecurity regulatory regimes of the banking, insurance and securities industries.  VCIA board member, Anne Marie Towle, Executive Vice President for JLT Insurance Management and the Captive Practice Leader, served on a panel that explored Innovation and Developments in the Cybersecurity Insurance Market and Risk Management Alternatives with a number of other experts, including Fred Eslami, Associate Director with the alternative risk transfer group at A.M. Best. It was an excellent presentation in the inaugural DFR series seeking to provide the insurance and financial services industry in Vermont with education and resources.

The bill the Governor signed (H.719) offers an onshore affiliated reinsurance alternative to insurance companies affected by the Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax on reinsurance ceded to offshore affiliates.  The BEAT provision included in the tax reform package adopted in December aims to circumvent profit movement overseas by imposing a minimum tax on certain deductible payments made to a foreign affiliate, including payments such as management fees and royalties, but excluding costs of goods sold, beginning in tax years after Dec. 31, 2017. It applies a minimum tax of 10% of taxable income.

It started when Ed Koral, Specialist Leader at Deloitte Consulting (and recent VCIA board member – see, we are all over the place…) approached the State of Vermont with a need for an onshore alternative for those reinsurers offshore that will be impacted by BEAT.  The concept is very similar to the Special Purpose Financial Captive, without the requirement for a securitization transaction. One of the key provisions of the law is the investment flexibility it provides companies. Unlike more prescriptive investment rules, these new affiliated reinsurance companies will develop an investment policy that addresses diversity and liquidity concerns, and the Department of Financial Regulation will work with the company to approve it.

This new law once again represents Vermont’s ability to adapt quickly to regulatory changes in support of the financial services industry.

At the upcoming VCIA Annual Conference August 7-9 there will be terrific education for captive professionals, including Hot Topics with Dave Provost, who will undoubtedly talk about this new legislation. Other sessions include Innovative Spotlight: Financing Unique Risk, Economic Headwinds and Tailwinds Impacting Captives, Owner Lessons Learned in Establishing a Captive, and The Cognitive Captive: Artificial Intelligence for Smarter Insurance. Register soon at http://www.vcia.com to get the best rates! Early rates expire June 30th.

We look forward to seeing you in Vermont in August. Thank you all very much!

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Another Year, Another Bill

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I want to thank all those VCIA Members who travelled to Montpelier last week during one of our ongoing snow storms to join Vermont Governor Phil Scott in signing this year’s captive bill into law.

H.764, introduced during VCIA’s Legislative Day in  January, quickly made its way through the legislative process and on to the Governor’s desk a week or so ago. Every year, VCIA and the State work to improve the ease of doing business in Vermont by proposing refinements to Vermont’s captive bill. This year’s bill included some common-sense changes to our annual filing date and reporting requirements which will help streamline processes and provide a new level of consistency for our regulated entities.

As Governor Scott said at the signing, “It is critical that we are responsive to the needs of the industry. These improvements to our captive legislation illustrate Vermont’s ongoing commitment to the captive insurance industry…  This bill will further advance Vermont’s reputation as the ‘Gold Standard’ of domiciles and will provide greater flexibility and consistency for our companies going forward.”

Joining the Governor was Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Mike Pieciak, Deputy Commissioner Dave Provost, Director of Financial Services Ian Davis, and a number of DFR staffers. With me were VCIA Members Jonathan McKenzie from Alterna, Pattie Henderson from SRS, Dustin Partlow from JLT, Steve Killoran from Maple Capital (straight from maple sugaring – or so he looks in the picture!), Sandi Prescott from Performa, David White from AIG, David Angus from The Angus Law Firm, Keith Jones from National Life, Kristen Sharrow from Johnson Lambert, and Bill Mourelatos and Patti Pallito from Aon. Thank you all for coming on down!

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Rich Smith
VCIA President