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.

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

From Early Bird to Angry Bird

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For all you procrastinators out there (and I count myself as one of the best) listen up! VCIA’s Annual Conference “early bird” rates are about to expire on June 30th. That means, of course, you will be paying more to learn and network with 1100 captive professionals from around the US and the world. And none of us like doing that.

Don’t take my word on it – look, here it is in black and white:

Registration Type

Early Price

Late Price

Full Pass: Member $750 $825
Full Pass: Non-member $1300 $1380
Networking: Member $465 $515
Networking: Non-member $890 $940

So, before the early bird changes into an angry bird, get on it! Click here to register today.

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

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Space…The Final Frontier

Rich-KurkVery cliché, I know, but still so true.

The fact that we now have a burgeoning space industry opens up opportunities for the insurance world. Most insurance companies offer some type of Space and Satellite Insurance which covers things like satellite launch and in-orbit, contingency, in-orbit third party liability, or some combination thereof.  But with space tourism becoming a reality in the not-too-distance future, captive insurance has an opportunity to play a role in the risk management of our last frontier.

The global banking firm UBS believes there will be very lucrative ramifications from the space flight efforts currently led by Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and Blue Origin, and stated that in a decade high-speed travel via outer space will represent an annual market of at least $20 billion and compete with long-distance airline flights. Space tourism will be a $3 billion market by 2030, UBS estimates.

UBS pointed to SpaceX’s plans to use the massive Starship rocket it is building to fly as many as 100 people around the world in minutes. SpaceX said that Starship would be able to fly from New York to Shanghai in 39 minutes, rather than the 15 hours it takes currently by airplane – pretty cool.  And even though space tourism is still nascent, UBS said they believe the sub-sector will become mainstream as the technology becomes proven and cost falls.

The legal risk of orbital space tourism is uncharted territory, and the liability risks to these companies could be huge.  Under current regulation, commercial passengers will have to sign an “informed consent” form to confirm that they recognize and accept the risks. This provision has been enshrined in US law by the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act 2004. Such liability waivers remain untested in the courts.

Although there are large insurance firms looking at space tourism, it seems that there is a yawning gap for the liability coverage of the space firms. Captives have always done well with filling this void with targeted, bespoke coverage. So, brush off your old Star Trek DVDs and let’s hope that we have a panel at the VCIA conference in the next ten years devoted to the extraterrestrial!

For all you Trekkies out there we have the next best thing to Captain James T. Kirk: for our closing luncheon on Thursday at the VCIA Annual Conference the week of August 5th we have former astronaut Mike Massimino as our special keynote. He is a recurring character on The Big Bang Theory, a professor at Columbia University, the first person to tweet from space, and a New York Times best-selling author.  Mike will speak of pursuing his passion and tell incredible stories about his experiences in outer space manning space missions. Having one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, Mike will speak of the teamwork and problem-solving skills needed to train for and accomplish one of NASA’s most difficult space missions. Don’t miss this fun closing event!

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

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Learning Circles

learning cirlcesWhen I talk to folks who come to the VCIA annual conference every year, I always ask them what they find most compelling about it. Often cited is the education provided by our VCIA panelists who represent some of the most prestigious organizations in the world. Sometimes it is that the conference is a great source for captive career development and networking or earning CPE / CLE / ICCIE credit.

One of the most compelling reasons to come to our conference is the peer-to-peer learning that attendees receive from the almost 1100 captive professionals that come each year. This year we are trying to enhance that relationship. We are organizing peer groups to come together and share thoughts, issues and questions in what we are calling Learning Circles.

In a Learning Circle, you’ll share your learning experience with up to 8 peers, who’ll do the same for you. An appointed Ambassador will act as a guide to help facilitate and support the process. Your Learning Circle is an adventure you’ll experience together on a mutual quest to dive deeper and apply the vibrancy of ideas and innovations you’ll encounter at VCIA’s Annual Conference.

The goal is simple: Enrich your VCIA journey with insights and experiences from your fellow Learning Circle members. Come prepared with subjects you would like to discuss. Through this process, you’ll discover the value of gaining new perspectives and ideas from fellow circle participants while developing connections with new peers.

So, come join us for the VCIA Annual Conference August 6 – 8th (with Captive Immersion August 5th), and think about signing up for one of our Learning Circles – you will not regret the knowledge you can gain, and the new friendships you will make!

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

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Cool Captives from Vermont

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I just returned from Chicago where I was a guest of the folks from Strategic Risk Solutions at their annual client symposium. It was a great 1 ½ days of education and networking with the captives, service providers and staff of SRS (many Vermonters, of course!).

I was asked to speak on a panel with regulators from a variety of captive domiciles on the way Vermont regulates captives, specifically the examination process. Hardly my expertise, but as you all know, I am always game!

At the lunch on Wednesday, SRS President & CEO Brady Young recognized three of their clients for the innovation they all employed in their captives. All three were Vermont captives naturally! They were Agrisurance Inc., whose parent company is Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), the largest co-op in the country and fourth largest worldwide; Maple Red Insurance Company, captive for Turner Construction, one of the largest construction management companies in the United States; and ProMutual Solutions/Axial Benefits Group cell programs. 

Congratulations to you all, and congratulations to SRS for a very successful event!

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

Rich Smith
VCIA President

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