A Brief Note on the Value of VCIA Board Members

The Board of the VCIA has some parameters set by the bylaws of the association. One of these is that the Board must always have members who are captive insurance company owners. This ensures that the Board has a direct understanding of what many VCIA member captive owners are going through. 

Congratulations to 3 of our Board Members for being a Top 20 Captive Owner by Captive Review!

On that note, I am very pleased to report that in the new Top 20 captive owners list from Captive Review – https://captivereview.com/features/top-20-captive-owners-2023/ – 3 VCIA Board members appear! It’s not lost on me that these 3 fantastic individuals are not only very active in the captive community, but also help out and volunteer their time and knowledge with many VCIA initiatives.

Firstly, our immediate past Chair, Andrew Baillie of the AES Corporation.  Andrew’s appearance at the VCIA roadshow in New York in the fall of 2022 showcased one of the many reasons that he was on this list. From the Captive Review article: “Baillie has developed a number of innovative captive solutions, particularly in the fields of cyber and terrorism coverage, and earned himself a reputation as a leader in the captive space among his peers.”

Secondly, Gail Newman of Bright Horizons, who brings the insurance challenges of a global childcare provider to VCIA Board deliberations. Gail brings so much fresh insight to the Board and VCIA and utilizes her many areas of expertise.

Last, but by no means least, current Board Chair Tracy Hassett of edHEALTH, who testified in front of the Vermont House and Senate committees in January of 2023, and made a powerful impact on the legislators present.

The VCIA relies on Board members, committee members and many other volunteers to develop our programs and initiatives, and it is great when the broader industry recognizes the influence, commitment and excellence of these folks alongside us!

#VCIA2022: By the (Preliminary) Numbers

Just a quick writeup from me, as, you may have heard, we are hosting the largest captive insurance conference of the summer in just 3 days! I thought you might be interested by conference numbers, so take a look and see what you’re in for as you arrive to #VCIA2022!

See you next week!
  • As of Tuesday August 2, we have 918 people registered for the conference, with online registration ending on Wednesday 8/3. We expect about 40 – 50 ‘walk-in’ registrants, so our estimated number of registrants could be close to 975. 
  • Attendees are here from nearly 41 states and 5 countries/territories, U.S., Austria, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, and England. 
  • About 100 people will be attending our 2nd Inaugural Captive Immersion on Monday August 8th, and Captive 101 on August 9th
  • At least 212 First Time Attendees will learn all about captives, earning professional credit and networking at #VCIA2022. 
  • At least 241 Captive Owners and prospects will be in attendance – that is an impressive 26% of our attendance.  
  • More than 80 of them are attending the Captive Owners Forum 
  •  30 of them attending Captive Owners Tour at the Vermont National Guard, guided by VTANG Commander Col. David W. Shevchik, Jr.  
  • 70 Exhibitors from all across America will be engaging with attendees and sharing their latest services and technologies to improve the captive industry.

Some key conference points: 

  • Innovation is a key theme (data analytics, Insurtech, Cyber Solutions, among others) 
  • Collaboration is paramount to attendees: being able to meet and talk with peers and experts gives attendees fresh ideas to pursue with their captives or companies. We’re doing this through discussion groups and networking lunches 
  • Ignite Talks are brief Ted-like styled presentations designed to capture the attention of the audience and offer a solution to a captive problem. They will be held in the Exhibit Hall and Amphitheater. 

^These are just a sampling of our dynamite conference “set list” – we can’t wait to share it all with you so, so soon!

President Kevin Mead’s Personal Guide to Burlington for #VCIA2022

“Vermont is a small state which makes an enormous difference.” -Mr. Rogers – Just 10 days until #VCIA2022 comes to life! And while we can certainly keep you fed and refreshed while here, I appreciate that some of you may want to venture into the depths of Burlington.  So here are a few spots that come with the “Kevin Seal of Approval.”

Bars:  I am more of a dive bar person than anything else. I love a good juke box and a billiards table that slants just slightly to the left. Any place with ‘tasting notes’ for the beer tends to get a pretty wide berth from me, so…

Lincoln’s: More of a scavenger hunt that a bar.  No signs, and Google Maps is only mildly helpful.  Once you find it and are in, everything is $5 – cash only.  Pepsi? $5. Gin & tonic with a dash of bitters? $5.  You get the picture.

The Olde Northender: Time stood still here in 1974.  Of course, it’s Vermont, so there are two micros on tap to accompany the bottles of Bud Light and cans of PBR.  23 North St, Burlington, VT 05401

Food:  Amusing story, there is a not a Starbucks in downtown Burlington. 

Feldman’s Bagels: A pepper salt and sesame bagel with a schmeer of bacon scallion and horseradish cheese. Open at 06:30, 660 Pine St, Burlington, VT 05401

American Flatbread: ‘It’s not a pizza, it’s a flatbread!’  ‘OK buddy, I’ll get a whatever-you-call-it with the maple fennel sausage and caramelized onions’. 115 St Paul St, Burlington, VT 05401

The Eclectic: Burlington is the natural habitat of all things quirky.

Thirty Odd: Bring home something from Vermont that is not syrup or a T-Shirt.  Local artists and makers with delightful stuff. 270 Pine Street, Burlington, VT 05401

The World’s Biggest Filing Cabinet:  Go and see it, and then ask me, “Why did you send us there?” I’ll buy you a drink if you actually make it to the filing cabinet tower and take a selfie! 220 Flynn Ave, Burlington, VT 05401

You’re bound to have a great time in Burlington when the captive world shortly gathers here! Check out the app (and download it before you arrive!) for more recommendations on your stay. And, there’s still time to register if you or someone you know has been dragging their feet! Save additional money by registering now before on-site registration starts August 5th. Can’t wait to celebrate with you all soon at #VCIA2022!

Rich Smith’s Last Blog Post as VCIA President

Bon Voyage, Rich!

“Goodbye Always Makes My Throat Hurt” – Charlie Brown

This is my last blog as President of VCIA. I can’t tell you all what a delight and how meaningful the last 12 years has been for me. I have worked with such wonderful people and made truly great friends in the captive industry.

I remember in my first year as President the marvelous Tom Jones came up to me at an event. With his wry smile and baritone voice, he said to me, “Rich, the only thing you need to be aware of is that there is a ‘no a-hole’ rule in the captive industry.” I immediately laughed out loud but recognized over the years how true that is (OK, it’s not quite universal, but close enough!).

I have worked with such wonderful people and made truly great friends in the captive industry

Outgoing vcia President Rich Smith

With a deep sense of relief, I confidently know I am leaving VCIA in excellent hands. Kevin Mead brings a wealth of association experience along with great common sense and a wonderful sense of humor – all tools that will make VCIA continue to shine.

Rich and Vermont Governor Phil Scott

I want to thank all of you that have provided me with your wisdom, guidance, and friendship. It has meant the world to me. That is especially true of the 36 board members, past and present, that have given their time and energy to this great association – thank you so much. You are the superstars of the captive universe!

To have worked with the outstanding regulators at Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation these past 12 years has been an honor and a pleasure. The team lead by Dave Provost, Sandy Bigglestone, Dan Petterson, and Christine Brown is the reason Vermont is THE top captive domicile in the world. This may sound like bluster, but I am quoting what my colleagues representing other domiciles told me on a regular basis. Not only that, but Vermont DFR is certainly the nicest and fun-loving group of regulators you have ever met.

Rich and colleagues at the US Capitol Building

Most of all, a warm thank you to all the wonderful VCIA staff over my tenure that have made the Association the stellar organization it is (and made me look good to boot): Diane Leach, Peggy Companion, Janice Valgoi, Megan Precourt, Dave Rapuano, Elizabeth Halpern, Julie Brown, Barbara Casanova, and newcomer Francis McGill – you all rock!

I look forward to watching the Association thrive over the next many years. Please feel free to reach out to me to say “hi’ once in a while and I will do the same. My new email address is mykasmithvt@gmail.com.

Thank you all and I look forward to hearing from you.

Roger Phelps

Roger Phelps passed away a few days ago. It is slightly overused, I suppose, but Roger was one of the founding fathers of Vermont’s captive insurance industry – including VCIA. We have lost a number of early captive innovators in the past few years.

Roger was a very creative person – you had to be to get both the industry and VCIA off the ground from the beginning. He even created VCIA’s first logo! Roger got ALCOA’s captive (Three Rivers Insurance Company) started in 1983 – license #8. Three Rivers is one of the few parent companies with a captive employee intentionally located in Vermont.

Our hearts go out to his family and friends, and the many people he touched in the captive community. He influenced many.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Cowbell Cyber

More Cowbell! The Rise of Cowbell Cyber, now with an Agency Captive Domiciled in Vermont

We all know that cyber has grown to be one of the top insurance issues facing organizations for the past five or so years. Captives have led the way in many cases providing personalized cyber risk policies for their owners that have been difficult or expensive to find in the traditional insurance market.

Now there is another arrow in the quiver in the captive cyber market. Cowbell Cyber, a cyber-insurance provider who has developed the first continuous underwriting platform, recently formed a Vermont-domiciled agency captive insurance company. An agency captive is a reinsurance company controlled by an insurance agency or brokerage. Through a reinsurance agreement with a traditional insurer, the agency captive receives a share of the premiums written and is obligated to pay its share of claims. Vermont legalized agency captive formations in 2017.

Cowbell Cyber, Closing the Cyber Insurability Gap

With an agency captive based in Vermont, Cowbell Cyber has the capacity to meet the exponential demands for cyber insurance. The company will surely stand out from its competition, based on cutting-edge A.I. software which comprehends actuarial models and inside-out data sources. You cannot get better than real time updates and customized assessments, which is what Cowbell Cyber provides. As it says on their About Us page, what makes them different is that “Cowbell factors benchmark enterprise risk exposure against a risk pool of millions of businesses.”

You cannot get better than real time updates and customized assessments, which is what Cowbell Cyber provides.

The InsurTech firm uses artificial intelligence to assist in risk selection and pricing as it underwrites cyber-insurance coverage for small-to-medium enterprises. Last September, it launched the industry’s first cyber risk marketplace, Cowbell Rx, giving the company more flexibility in addressing the expanding demand from its growing distribution network of 2,000 agencies and 12,000 producers nationwide.

Why the name Cowbell? No, it’s not in homage of the iconic SNL skit, but the company traces its name back to the livestock bell and its timeless practice of ringing out when the animal herd is in distress. The cowbell is a warning signal that alerts the farmer to any abrupt change, and Cowbell Cyber alerts enterprise risk managers to the fluctuating hazards and remediations to mitigate potential losses for its clients.

Providing just another way to meet the world’s risk mitigation needs, Vermont remains the domicile of choice for captive innovation.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Welcome, Kevin!

Earlier this month you met our new Communications Director, Francis McGill. Now I would like to take the opportunity to introduce my replacement as President of VCIA, Kevin Mead!

Kevin Mead, new VCIA President

As you may have seen in our announcement earlier this week, Kevin brings a boatload of skills in association management and financial wherewithal based on his experience running a number of associations. (Click here for the official announcement.)

Kevin is a unique fellow: he lives in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom (the most rural part of our rural state), has a British accent, and loves rugby. But more than that, I got to know Kevin over the past few months, and he is truly a nice, decent human being – someone who will fit right into the captive insurance family.

Holding two master’s degrees related to association management and finance, Kevin is the perfect candidate to lead VCIA, build out the captive industry’s flagship conference, increase VCIA membership and membership value, while evolving the organization amid the current pandemic and economic challenges. Above all, he is a true “people’s person.” Our staff is thrilled to have him on board and I know he will make many meaningful and productive relationships with our members.

Although his official start date is February 22nd, Kevin has been hard at work absorbing all things captive insurance and VCIA over the past few weeks. He will be traveling to Miami for the World Captive Forum with VCIA’s own Janice Valgoi and the incredible team from the State of Vermont, so, if you are going to be there, please take the time to reach out and introduce yourself.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

The Results Are In

You all saw it coming. The number of captives licensed in Vermont last year eclipsed 2020 – already a banner year. Sure, almost every captive domicile had a good year, but even with over 40 states establishing captive laws, Vermont stands head and shoulders above.

Here are the hard numbers: Forty-five new captive insurance companies were licensed this past year in Vermont, making 2021 Vermont’s 4th highest year of growth in its 40-year history. Vermont is now home to 620 licensed captives, consisting of 589 active and 31 dormant captives. Vermont’s 52 sponsored cell captives currently host nearly 500 cells and separate accounts, in addition to the licensed captive companies.

The new captives were licensed in 17 different industries, the main industries being healthcare, real estate, manufacturing, insurance, and transportation. At least 5 of Vermont’s new captives in 2021 were formed by companies with international roots, including Japan, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Vermont has been experiencing growth in the number of new cells within sponsored captives, at a similar pace as new company licenses, with nine of the 45 new companies formed this year being sponsored cell companies.

Vermont has licensed a total of 1,242 captive insurance companies since 1981 and remains, by far, the largest U.S. domicile for captive insurance and third largest in the world. With an active pipeline of prospective new captive insurance companies already underway for 2022, the state expects continued growth in the coming year.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Welcome, Francis!

I want to take this opportunity to welcome Vermont’s new Communications Director, Francis McGill, to Team VCIA!

Starting earlier this month, Francis jumped right into the deep end of the pool and is off to a super start. He enjoyed virtually meeting some members during VCIA’s successful 2022 Legislative Day, and introduced himself to the Board of Directors during our quarterly meeting. Francis certainly has big shoes to fill, coming in after Elizabeth Halpern’s amazing 22-year run at the job, but he is ready to go! We wish Elizabeth the very best in her next endeavors.

Francis brings eight years of experience as a dynamic storyteller, brand ambassador, and communications strategist. His most recent position was the marketing and media coordinator for Vermont’s flagship retirement and long-term facility. His mettle was tested as the center was challenged over the past two years of the COVID pandemic. He lives on the roots of Mount Ellen, one of Vermont’s highest peaks, with his partner and brand-new baby boy.

Please take the time over the next few weeks to welcome Francis to the wonderful world of captive insurance! You can reach him at fmcgill@vcia.com.

Thank you for your support, and the whole VCIA team looks forward to hearing from you.

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Happy Holidays!

As we close out the year it is a great time to reflect on the last 12 months – or longer. It certainly has been a challenging year for all of us, but I can say without reservation how grateful I am to have been a part of this great industry for the past 12 years.

The friends I have made as head of VCIA are amazing. All of you have made my job joyful which is not something everyone can say, I know. You all know how fabulous the folks who work in the captive insurance space at the State of Vermont are – truly a pleasure to work with Dave Provost, Sandy Bigglestone, Dan Petterson, Christine Brown, Becky Aitchison, and Brittany Nevins.

VCIA’s Board of Directors day in and day out have provided their time, energy, guidance, and friendship through a year where they had to face many challenging decisions. My thanks to Andrew Baillie, Donna Blair, Joe Carter, Lawrence Cook, Tracy Hassett, Stephanie Mapes, Gail Newman, Jason Palmer, Dennis Silvia, Anne Marie Towle, and Derick White.

And to work with the great staff at VCIA in these tumultuous times has shown me just how wonderful they all are. Thank you so much Diane Leach, Elizabeth Halpern (who leaves us at the end of the year – sniff), Peggy Companion, Janice Valgoi, Dave Rapuano, and Meg Precourt for everything!

Even in these uncertain times, we are looking for a brighter future with 2022 and it gives me such comfort to know what good people there are out there.

Happy Holidays!

Rich Smith,
VCIA President