Give Peace (Church) a Chance

 

boatsMy thanks to Phil Leaman and his board of directors at Peace Church Risk Retention Group (a reciprocal) for inviting me to join them for their meeting in Vermont last week. Phil is COO of Peace Church RRG, and spoke at VCIA’s recent Road Show in Philly.  Peace Church is part of a larger umbrella organization that provides services to approximately 140 organizations with programs for aging, disability and behavioral health.  Phil is also an active member of VCIA’s Legislative Committee and participates first hand in VCIA’s legislative and regulatory efforts.

I was on the panel with two absolute pros from Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation captive insurance examination office, Dan Petterson and Heidi Rabtoy. We gave an overview of DFR’s regulatory regime, VCIA’s activities on behalf of our members, and how both organizations work cooperatively for the industry.  What a great opportunity for the State and VCIA to get directly in front of a captive board to report on our activities and take their questions! I think they left with an even better feeling of being domiciled in Vermont and being a member of VCIA than when they arrived – at least I know I did!

In speaking with Dan and Heidi afterward (and Deputy Commissioner Dave Provost), we all agreed we would welcome other opportunities to get before captive boards of directors.  So, keep us in mind for your next captive board meeting in Vermont. Having us there makes Vermont look good and can make you look good, too!

On another note, thanks to everyone who came out Wednesday afternoon and evening for VCIA’s Board Meeting and Annual Spring Mixer. The evening on the deck of the Burlington Sailing Center overlooking Lake Champlain was absolutely gorgeous. Add in good food and drink, and great friends, and it was a super event! Thank you to Johnson Lambert LLP for sponsoring the mixer.

 

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

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Come Sail Away, Come Sail Away, Come Sail Away… with VCIA

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Sure, not all of you are Styx fans, and may have never heard this hallmark anthem from the late 70’s, but I wanted to make sure you were all invited to our annual Spring Mixer next Wednesday, May 15th at the Burlington Community Sailing Center overlooking beautiful Lake Champlain.

Join us for a unique opportunity to connect with industry colleagues at a number of activities that are taking place that day. Hear updates from VCIA’s Board of Directors at the General Session Meeting from 3:30 pm – 4:00 pm in the Big Education Classroom on the second floor at the Sailing Center.

Immediately following the board meeting in the same room from 4:00 pm – 4:30 pm, our favorite regulators from Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation will be on hand to share what’s on their minds and take questions from our members.

And finally, we move onto the Merrill Family Terrace on the rooftop of the Sailing Center to mix and mingle with your colleagues in this beautiful setting.

All of this is FREE to members graciously sponsored by our friends at Johnson Lambert LLP.  So, come to all are part of the day’s events and come sail away… at least for the evening!

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

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Registration Open

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May 1st means only one thing around Vermont (well, maybe our particular piece of Vermont): registration for VCIA’s Annual Conference is now open!

With 1100 attendees joining us last year, the VCIA conference is the largest and most comprehensive captive insurance conference in the United States. Nearly 30 educational sessions will cover topics from those new to captive insurance and industry veterans.

A couple of new features this year include Captive Immersion which takes place on Monday, August 5th.  Captive Immersion will educate those new to the industry on the key services of captives, in a condensed time frame. Includes lunch, an afternoon of education, and a cocktail networking reception.

Also new this year are Learning Circles. Sign up for a Learning Circle to connect with 6 – 8 other attendees and a conference ambassador, where you’ll make connections, get acclimated to the event, and learn from each other!

Our two keynote speakers are NASA Astronaut Mike Massimino and Laura Drabik, Group Vice President of Business Innovation at Guidewire Software.  Mike will share his firsthand account of his missions to the Hubble Space Telescope and tell incredible stories of what it’s like to have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.  And Laura will provide keen insight on disruption, tech and innovation in the insurance industry. Her passion for insurance is rooted in purpose and her inspiring talk on August 6th is not to be missed!

Come join us this August to learn about captive insurance from the industry experts. Explore trends and strategies to use in your organization, collaborate with others, and earn credit from our thought-provoking sessions!

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

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Lights, Camera, Act(ion)!

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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

 

Connection to Purpose

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Captive insurance has had a bit of a rough ride lately. Whether it’s the news about 831(b)s or the “extra-judicial” tax grabs by non-domicile states, it seems that we are in a continuous rearguard action regarding the efficacy of our industry.

That’s why, now more than ever, the captive industry needs to start telling OUR story. The true story of the many ways that the existence of captive insurance creates good in the world. Of course, we know that captive insurance provides a risk financing mechanism for organizations to save money; but lesser told is often what good is done with the money saved. These cost savings have a direct impact on saving lives in hospitals; helping prevent life-altering accidents for farmers, truckers and construction workers; allowing low-income housing authorities to provide safe living spaces for their clients; and helping college protect their students and provide more support for their educational mission.

There is a great article right now in Risk & Insurance exemplifying this connection to purpose. The article is focused on the lives saved at The University of Oklahoma Hospital System, where VCIA board member Heather McClure is interviewed about its captive insurance company, Academic Physicians Insurance Company.  Heather is the Chief Operating Officer at APIC, and she gives terrific and moving examples of how the captive has played such an important role to the university and community. You can read the article by clicking here.

You will be hearing more about the industry’s connection to purpose from VCIA and other captive organizations in the near future.  It’s imperative that our story get out there and be told. What’s your story?

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

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Captive Immersion

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Every year VCIA looks for new ways to provide content and updated information to our members at our annual conference. This year we are trying something new: we have scheduled a half-day on Monday afternoon, August 5th, right before the conference gets started for what we are calling Captive Immersion.

VCIA’s Captive Immersion is designed to familiarize individuals who are new to the captive industry (or who just want to understand captive roles more fully) on the key services that are needed during captive feasibility study, formation and management. These services include legal, auditing, management, actuarial, investments, and captive regulation. Industry experts will give newcomers a complete sense of the various components and their importance in the overall captive picture. The afternoon begins with lunch and concludes with a cocktail networking reception for participants of Captive Immersion, the session speakers, VCIA board members, Platinum sponsors and invited captive owners.

Upon completion, participants will be able to better understand key stakeholdings in the captive insurance industry; obtain a higher-level understanding of the captive insurance industry; learn how and when to engage the services of a particular service provider; understand the roles and responsibilities of each service provider group.  A lifetime’s worth of knowledge all in one afternoon (with drinks at the end to boot)!  So, keep a lookout for more information, including our official May 1st conference kick-off day.

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

Rich Smith
VCIA President

That’s NOT the Spirit

regulationThe big news at the CICA conference in Tucson (other than my travails in getting home) was the placement of Nevada-based Spirit Commercial Auto Risk Retention Group (RRG) into permanent receivership and how it might impact the alternative risk transfer market. A story broken by Christopher Diemel of the Risk Retention Reporter examined the problems of Spirit dating back to 2013, where there were clear warning signs that the company was not living up to its obligations. On February 27, 2019, the Eighth Judicial District Court of Nevada entered its permanent injunction and order appointing the Nevada commissioner of insurance as permanent receiver of Spirit Commercial Auto Risk Retention Group, Inc.

Chris’s report outlined developments at Spirit in 2018 including an auditor’s letter alleging material misstatements, the restatement of the company’s 2017 annual statement, and a loss portfolio transfer deal in excess of $100 million.  However, it was the response (or lack thereof) by Nevada regulators that is most troubling to me – and a warning to the industry as a whole.

The concern that the NAIC might again put RRGs under the microscope is real, however, the industry overall is solid. By all measures, captive insurance companies, including RRGs, have far better metrics than traditional insurance companies.  A 2018 report by rating agency Demotech revealed that RRGs remained financially stable, as cash, assets, and liabilities all increased since 2017 Q2. According to Demotech, the results suggest RRGs are adequately capitalized and are able to remain solvent if faced with adverse economic conditions or increased losses.

The Spirit case is a prime example of the differing levels of regulation by states. Chris’s report provided examples of RRGs that ran into trouble but were quickly and efficiently handled by state regulators in other domiciles. I don’t know what exactly happened in Nevada, but to me the issue isn’t rogue captives or RRGs, or less than scrupulous service providers. It is state regulators failing to do the right thing – and that’s not good for any of us.

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