The Gospel of Captives and Temple

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As I mentioned in my last blog, we were in Philadelphia last Tuesday for one of VCIA’s famous Road Shows serving up our sermon on the gospel of captives to a group of around 100 attendees. My heartfelt thanks to all the participants and our sponsors: Trion-MMA, Old Republic PMA, Kroll, and the State of Vermont.

Jeff Packard of Old Republic PMA acted as our MC, introducing the panels while providing entertaining (and educational) anecdotes of his many years in the captive industry. Our panelists were terrific as well! Kirk Watkins, Captive Practice Leader of Trion-MMA, walked through the basics of captives including types, lines and the process of setting one up. Then Ian Davis, Director of Finance, and Sandy Bigglestone, Director of Captives, provided an overview on regulation and licensing of captive insurance in the State of Vermont.

The second panel included two of Vermont’s captive insurance owners, Gary Langsdale, University Risk Officer for The Pennsylvania State University which owns Nittany Insurance Company, and Phil Leaman, COO of Resource Partners and Peace Church Risk Retention Group (A Reciprocal). Both provided excellent information from their many years of experience in operating captive insurance companies.

Gary outlined the complexity of his captive which covers 8 million sq. ft. of floor surface in 700 buildings, a 107,000-seat football stadium, 45,000 students, 16,000 faculty and staff, 1900 owned motor vehicles, two large hotel and conference centers, and, my favorite, a nuclear reactor sharing a driveway with the child care center!  Phil talked about how his captive covers Quaker, Mennonite, and Church of the Brethren facilities serving the aged and other assisted living populations.  With approximately 140 organizations and 16,843 insured units, Peace Church has gross written premiums of $55,433,689.

But most of all, we had around 30 students from Temple’s Fox School of Business studying risk management or actuarial sciences who joined us that afternoon. This extremely poised, intelligent group of young adults asked the best questions and provided all of us great hope for the future of the captive industry. My sincere thanks to Michael Zuckerman, Assistant Professor at the Fox School of Business and Management’s Dept. of Risk, Insurance and Healthcare Management, for bringing such an inspiring group of students!

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

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Philadelphia Freedom!

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Heading to Philadelphia next Tuesday for one of VCIA’s famous Road Shows where we dazzle the crowds with an overview of the captive insurance industry. The afternoon includes two educational seminars featuring captive owners and captive professional panelists who share their companies’ experiences in forming and operating a Vermont captive. The afternoon wraps up with a networking reception for all.

Held at the Le Meridien Philadelphia hotel on 1421 Arch Street in downtown Philadelphia, the first half of the afternoon will focus on the basics of captive insurance companies; the reasons for formation, the feasibility process and key issues in putting a successful captive program together. In the second half, two distinguished captive owners from two different types of captive insurance companies will share their experiences and why and how they created their captive programs.

Gary Langsdale serves as university risk officer for The Pennsylvania State University with responsibility for Enterprise Risk Management including operational, hazard, and strategic risks. Gary is president of the university’s captive insurance company, Nittany Insurance Company. He has over 40 years of experience in the insurance and risk management field, has co-authored white papers for the University Risk Management and Insurance Association (URMIA), and participated in the 2010 development of the ASME standard on risk assessment for institutions of higher education. In 2009, he was recognized by Business Insurance magazine as a member of their Risk Management Honor Roll, and in 2016 he received URMIA’s highest honor, the “Distinguished Risk Manager” designation. Gary will share his experience with us.

While serving as CEO and COO of Resource Partners over the past 15 years, Phil Leaman, our second captive owner panelist, helped direct the launch of three Vermont based captives providing for the liability, workers compensation, medical benefits and risk management needs of its faith-based, not for profit, aging services and health & human services member organizations. During this time Phil was part of the organizational team and served as a founding board member of the Center for Aging Services Risk Management which confers the professional designation of Certified Professional in Aging Services Risk Management (CPASRM) to individuals who complete its educational program in the discipline of aging services risk management. Phil serves on the VCIA Legislative Committee.

It’s not too late to register to hear from these fine panelists! Click here for more info.

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

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Baldy Smith Rides Again!

baldy2Another successful VCIA Legislative Day this week at Vermont’s State House in bustling Montpelier. Our members, including many who came in from afar, got to hear from Vermont’s Lt. Governor, David Zuckerman, as well as Vermont’s Commissioner of Financial Regulation Mike Pieciak at our luncheon, and then later in the day from the Speaker of the House, Mitzi Johnson, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Tim Ashe, and finally from House Minority Leader Patty McCoy. Even though they represent different parties under the Gold Dome, what they do have in common is their unwavering support of the captive insurance industry in Vermont

At our lunch we heard from Phil Susmann, President of Norwich University which hosts the NU Applied Research Institutes (NUARI). Just a few miles south of Montpelier, NUARI serves the national public interest through the study of critical national issues and the development of related educational and training programs. Phil and his NUARI colleagues have been instrumental in helping U.S. banks and financial firms test and harden their resiliency against major cyber events.  NUARI’s simulation tools enable hundreds of players across the country—from broker-dealers, clearing firms, and stock exchanges to U.S. banks, regulators, and law enforcement agencies—to test themselves against lifelike simulated cyberattacks. The exercise has become the largest single-day event of its kind for the industry.

VCIA testified before House Commerce and Senate Finance in the afternoon. VCIA board member Heather McClure knocked it out of the park with her testimony connecting work of the Vermont legislature in support of captive insurance with patient lives at Oklahoma University Medical Center, where their APIC captive supports advances in patient care. Members of the two committees were visibly moved by the impact of her testimony!

Finally, for the first time we held our reception for legislators in the venerable Cedar Creek Room at the State House. And this is where the story of Baldy Smith comes in, for in the Cedar Creek Room hangs a recently acquired painting of the Civil War general. VCIA’s Diane Leach wondered if Baldy is an ancestor of mine, and although the likeness is uncanny, as far as I know Baldy is from a different branch of the Right Honorable Smith Family.

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

VCIA Legislative Day – Cyber-up!

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As we all know, cybersecurity is one of the main issues facing society today. From data breaches that expose personal information to malware that can infect computer systems, in our growing IOT (internet of everything) world it’s the problem of the day. The insurance industry, including captives, have focused on cybersecurity for some time now. Both to provide their clients with the proper mitigation policies and to protect their own data systems, our industry continues to be in the forefront.

Who would have figured that in our small state, Vermont hosts one of the top cybersecurity institutions in the nation! Located in Northfield, Vermont (just south of our State’s capital, Montpelier) Norwich University hosts the NU Applied Research Institutes (NUARI).  NUARI was federally chartered in 2002 to address cyber incident management challenges through research, training programs and technology development and has been a global leader for more than a decade in developing cyber war gaming, distributed learning technology, distributed simulation technology, critical infrastructure exercises, and cybersecurity curriculum.  Norwich provides a truly unique program utilizing state-of-the-art forensic tools unheard of at other institutions of this size.

We are honored to have the President of NUARI, Phil Susmann, address our members at next week’s VCIA Legislative Day in Montpelier. Phil will speak at lunch in the Capital Plaza Hotel on January 23rd along with DFR Commissioner Mike Pieciak and a welcome from Lt. Governor David Zuckerman.

Legislative Day is a chance for our members to meet the State’s top political leaders and hear about the issues that are facing Vermont in the upcoming year. It’s also a great chance for the captive industry to say “thank you” for the over 30 years of support from politicians and policy leaders from all stripes: Democrats, Republicans, Progressives and Independents.

There will be meetings with legislative leaders and presentations to House and Senate committees. And don’t miss the Q&A opportunity with Dave Provost and the DFR Team after lunch! The event concludes with a fabulous evening reception where legislators, elected and appointed officials and VCIA Members mingle and exchange information about Vermont’s captive insurance industry and make plans for its continued success in 2019.

So, if you haven’t done so already, register here for a great day!

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

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Let the Games Begin (and Congrats Vermont – Again)!

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The Vermont General Assembly began the first half of the legislative biennium this month. Both houses of the Vermont legislature now have a supermajority of Democrats, so Governor Scott (R) will have less room to push back on any legislation he doesn’t support. That being said, the House Commerce Committee’s new chair is Mike Marcotte, a Republican and former vice chair of the committee. Senate Finance remains in the hands of veteran Ann Cummings; both these committees oversee captive insurance in Vermont and both are strong captive insurance supporters.

As we do every year, VCIA initiated a process to build an agenda for suggested changes to the captive statutes for the 2019 legislative session.   With the results from our membership survey in hand, we meet with  Vermont’s captive management firms and law firms to hear their suggested changes. Then comes an iterative process with Dave Provost’s team at Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation resulting in a consensus bill to present to the legislature. This year’s captive bill will be mostly tweaks and technical corrections, but even those are important in staying current in our ever-changing industry.

On another note, congratulations again to DFR and the State of Vermont! For the fifth straight year, Vermont was ranked the BEST  insurance regulatory environment in the United States, according to the R Street Institute’s  Insurance Regulation Report Card, an annual examination of which states best regulate the business of insurance.

Don’t forget that January 23rd  is VCIA’s annual Legislative Day in Montpelier, Vermont’s capital. It’s a full day of meeting and hearing from Vermont’s political leaders on the captive industry and issues facing the State broadly. Go to www.vcia.com and register today!

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Washington State News

Rubber stamp "TAX"You have probably already heard of the recent pronouncement by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner in Washington State “allowing captive insurance companies that have unlawfully insured any risk in Washington State in the past 15 years to pay a substantially reduced fine and premium tax penalty for self-reporting the activity.”

The fact that the Washington State believes they can basically outlaw captive insurance with a press release is disturbing at best. It contradicts established federal law on insurance and creates a direct threat to the industry for those organizations that have risks in the state covered with a captive.  In the original legal filing by the K&L Gates law firm on the Microsoft case, they laid out the comprehensive argument that (1) the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) does not have the authority to regulate self-insurance; (2) the captive was not in the business of making contracts of insurance and therefore excluded from the definition of “insurer”; (3) the captive is outside the scope of the OIC’s authority under the federal McCarran-Ferguson Act litigated under Todd Shipyards; and (4) the OIC was outside its bounds to try and tax premiums related to risks outside the State of Washington.

VCIA is working with CICA and our other captive insurance partners on a cohesive response to the bulletin. In the meantime, I would advise captives with Washington State presence to check with their captive advisors on the issue.  We strongly urge you to give it some time before deciding to comply with the release.

I look forwarded to hearing from you!

The Great Wall and Beyond

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As I mentioned in my last blog, I traveled to China right before the Thanksgiving holiday to speak before the 2018 Jing-Jin-Ji International Insurance Forum in Tianjin. My presentation focused on the introduction of Vermont’s captive market, development and supervision. I also participated on a panel that discussed the captive rules in Asia, U.S. and Europe, best practice and the latest innovation, with insurance supervisors from Hong Kong, Singapore and Guernsey as well.  I focused on how Vermont regulators create a “partnership” with the captive insurance companies while keeping a strong regulatory hand on the tiller. I emphasized the support from Vermont’s political leadership as well. This message was well received by my Chinese captive insurance colleagues.

IMG_1613It was a great trip, especially to see and hear how the China captive market is emerging. As I mentioned last time, there is a relatively small number of captives in China right now – and mostly held by state-owned enterprises (SOEs) like COSCO shipping, Sinopec and China Railway. However, there is a growing interest in captive insurance for private enterprises and other SOEs looking to better manage their risk.

The Chinese captive industry is very limited in scope right now. Like most regulators when presented with a new-fangled way of doing business, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission is taking a go-slow approach to captive insurance. The industry in China is looking to pick up steam and get interested parties from privately owned businesses to consider captives. They are also interested in helping move Chinese regulators to broaden the limits on captives currently in place.  And while it may be a long-shot to get a Chinese captive to domicile in Vermont, the fact that they are looking at VCIA as a place to learn illustrates the continued leadership of Vermont in the growing worldwide industry.  I look forward to continuing this dialogue and seeing how the Chinese captive industry evolves.

IMG_1614I want to thank in particular my colleague Geoffrey Cao, President of the Chinese Captive Insurance Association, who invited me over and played gracious host while I was in China. And a HUGE thank you to Christina Kindstedt, Senior Vice President of Advantage Insurance Management (USA), who provided a go-between with me and my Chinese counterparts, as well as helping with my trip every step of the way.  Thank you both so much!

I look forward to hearing from you!

Rich Smith
VCIA President