I Kind of Like the Swamp…

rich-swamp-2I am down in Washington for a couple of days meeting with various Congressional staff people about moving the Captive Clarity Bill forward, slowly but surely.

The Captive Clarity Bill is seeking to clarify (hence the name!) an issue passed in legislation a number of years ago.  Within the Dodd-Frank Act was passed the Nonadmitted and Reinsurance Reform Act (NRRA), which was intended to streamline the regulation and taxation of surplus lines insurance. However, some of the definitions in the Act are so broad that questions have been raised about its effect on captive insurance. If captive insurance is considered “nonadmitted insurance” under the NRRA, captive insureds may be required to pay a premium tax to their home state in addition to their captives paying domiciliary state premium taxes, and be partially regulated by the insured’s “home state.”

Currently, captives are taxed and regulated in the state that they are domiciled regardless of where their corporate owners’ headquarters may be located. Under NRRA, the home state could assert the right to tax the self-procured insurance premiums written within the captive entity even though the state of domicile already charges the captive a premium tax.  It would suddenly penalize many companies by double taxing them for being domiciled in a state that is not their home state.  Although the Act does not give states any additional taxing authority, the prospect of nondomiciliary states accessing additional insurance transactions to tax has increased the risk of states attempting to impose new taxes on captive insurance. On the other side of that coin, domiciliary states may be at risk of losing their ability to collect premium taxes and regulate certain aspects of captive insurance.

Ian Davis, Director of Financial Services for the State of Vermont, and I will be meeting with our Vermont contingent, Patrick Satalin with Rep. Welch (D-VT), and Erica Chabot and JP Dowd with Senator Leahy’s Office. We will also be meeting with key Congressional staffers, including John Hair with Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) – Chairman of the Housing and Insurance Subcommittee, Saat Altey with Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) – Member of the Senate Banking and Insurance Subcommittee, Brandon Beall, Professional Staff for Insurance, Senate Banking Committee, and Amanda Fischer, Director of the Democrat/Minority Policy for the House Financial Services Committee. Finally, I will be meeting with Richard Ifft in the Federal Insurance Office at the Treasury Department. Phew… I need a break just looking at the list!

Jim McIntyre and I will be providing a full legislative report during the VCIA Annual Conference to VCIA Members attending the  Annual Meeting, so come on by and find out more!

We look forward to seeing you in Vermont in August. Thank you all very much, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Rich Smith
VCIA President

We are Open for the Season – the VCIA Conference Season!

reg-openIt’s hard to believe, but May is here and that means only one thing: VCIA has opened registration for our captive insurance conference taking place this August in Burlington, Vermont.  The VCIA staff have been working furiously the past number of weeks to ready for our first day of registration for VCIA’s 33rd Annual Conference, and it is shaping up to be a good one.

Thirty-three years ago this August, VCIA held its 1st Annual Conference in a small hotel meeting room in downtown Burlington with only a dozen or so attendees. After a morning of meetings, it was off to the golf course and later a small reception. Today the VCIA conference covers three full days and is the premier captive insurance gathering for education and networking for over 1100 attendees and 100 exhibitors.  Make sure to join us August 7th through the 9th for this valuable program.

The conference,  aptly named “VCIA: Where the Captive World Comes to Meet!” will bring together over 1100 industry participants to learn about the many aspects, trends and innovations of captive insurance while connecting with industry participants from all over the world.  Leading industry experts will teach over 20 educational sessions, many of them using interactive technology to engage the audience. This year we have placed focus on professional development sessions as well, with sessions such as Presenting to Board/Management, Building Better Relationships and a new young professionals forum.

Two renowned keynote speakers will be joining us as well. Jack Uldrich, a Global Futurist and award winning author, will speak on trends transforming the insurance sector tomorrow; and Joel Cohen, an Emmy award winning writer and producer for “The Simpsons”, will discuss the Simpsons, creative process, group dynamics and innovation.  Register today at www.vcia.com.

gadbois siri photoOn a very sad note, we learned this week of the passing of former VCIA board member, Siri Gadbois. Siri’s time on our board will be remembered by her thoughtfulness, leadership, and an infectious laugh that could lighten a whole room. Siri served as president and CEO of Educational & Institutional Insurance Administrators (EIIA) from 2002 to her retirement in 2017, where her duties included president and board chair of College Insurance Company and board chair of College Risk Retention Group.  We will miss Siri, and our hearts go out to her family and her amazing colleagues at EIIA who were like family to her.

We look forward to seeing you in Vermont in August. Thank you all very much, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Rich Smith
VCIA President

All Hat… No Cattle

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I always loved this Texan saying, and it is so appropriate as I am heading off to San Antonio to the humongous RIMS conference there next week and I have neither hat nor cattle.

A small, but intrepid, Vermont contingent heads to the RIMS conference every year where we proselytize on the magnificence of captives to the passing hoard (usually about 10,000 or so folks). Ian Davis will be our valiant captain as a bunch of us hang out at the cool Vermont booth for the conference. And Dave Provost and a number of the DFR champions will join us as well. So if you are going to be down there, please swing by the booth and grab a bowl of Ben & Jerry’s or pure Vermont maple syrup!

Speaking about the opposite of All Hat, No Cattle, Business Insurance handed out a couple of their 2018 US insurance awards to risk management programs recently, and one of our outstanding members picked up a trophy.  The honor for 2018 Risk Management Team of the Year went to global electrical power company AES Corp., American International Group Inc. and Marsh L.L.C. for their innovative approach of embedding terrorism and resultant damage cyber coverage within AES’ existing global captive property program, eliminating potential gaps between policies, providing additional limits and expanding cover to all AES insured assets. Andrew Baillie, program director of global insurance for AES, is the facilitator at our session of captive owners looking at international issues at VCIA’s annual conference this August.

Registration for the VCIA Annual Conference opens May 1st. We look forward to seeing many of you there for another excellent program!   Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Corporate Responsibility…. And a Good Wage

career-goalsOne of the biggest issues facing the captive insurance industry, indeed the entire insurance industry, is filling in our next generation of workers and leaders. I was listening to Bob Hartwig of the Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina, talking on A.M. BestTV on recommendations on how the insurance world can and should attract the next generation workforce to our broader industry.

His number one piece of advice was to articulate a clear path for candidates looking far down the road on what is expected and what opportunities lay out there – even ten years out. Students are really looking for what opportunities lay open to them, including wages and benefits. That isn’t to discount corporate responsibility: young people today are looking to work for an organization with a positive mission and workspace, and take into consideration corporate responsibility, whether locally or globally.  Just understand good wages, benefits and opportunities for advancement are as important to newer entrants into our industry as it was to us all those many years ago!

Other good advice from Bob included:

  • Use relatively new colleagues in your particular company as an ambassador for new entrants to see how they got to where they are now, as well as give advice on the pathway. Students in risk management programs can relate and identify with that person and allows them to see where they might be in the same timeframe. Companies that bring these ambassadors into the classroom tend to get a lot of resumes very quickly.
  • Get an early start – some of the best students often have jobs six months before they graduate! With a strong employment rate, it’s very competitive for good candidates.
  • Institute a formal training program for new hires. Show them they will be give the training and guidance they need to do a good job and advancement.
  • Institute an internship program, even for sophomores becoming juniors, as those students are clearly showing early interest and will be more likely to convert to employees.
  • Support risk management and insurance (RMI) education through direct recruitment at the programs, but also through scholarships and donations to the programs themselves.
  • Look outside your immediate geographic area for promising candidates. Many insurers limit recruiting to narrow geographic regions and don’t expose new hires to a full range of opportunities, nationally and internationally

All good advice to get the flow of candidates flowing!

Registration for the VCIA Annual Conference opens May 1st. We look forward to seeing many of you there for another excellent program!   Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Rich Smith
VCIA President

Weather or Not

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It was recently reported that Strategic Risk Solutions Europe (SRS) has introduced a carbon emission risk program to be run in conjunction with Carbon Risk Solutions.  The program will initially involve a series of workshops where sustainability directors and risk managers are invited to learn how they can identify, manage and finance the carbon emissions risks their firms face in the transition to the low carbon economy with a range of insurance-linked solutions, including the use of captives.

Stuart King, president of SRS Europe, echoed what many have said of the broader insurance industry in confronting climate change and its associated risks: “The insurance market has been rather slow to respond to carbon risk transfer solutions for multinationals. We see an opportunity to develop these programs within captives and cells, while the commercial market develops and becomes more comfortable with this emerging risk.”

I think this bodes well for our mighty little industry. As I stated in a previous blog, captives are well placed to deal with the vagaries of climate change and risk, and that those who wait too long may be too late.

VCIA continues to address and explore this issue with a number of sessions at our Annual Conference this coming August 7-9.  Our session Natural Catastrophes and their Impact on Risk Management will feature experts  sharing information on the potential impact of natural catastrophes on  risk management from a variety of viewpoints including  academic, actuarial and risk management.

The expert panel for this session includes:

Gillian Galford, an Earth Systems Scientist at the University of Vermont and lead author of the Vermont Climate Assessment; Howard Kunst, Senior Modeler and Chief Actuary, at CoreLogic; Jason Shafer, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Lyndon State Colleges, who focuses on the valuation of weather information within the private sector; and Brad Waldron, ‎Vice President, Risk Management at ‎Caesars Entertainment Corporation.

Registration for the VCIA Annual Conference opens May 1st. We look forward to seeing many of you there for another excellent program!   Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Next Gen

Richwithmanbun2

So Millennials, welcome to the “name-that-generation” world. Starting with Baby Boomers, the X, Y and Z Generations, we humans can’t help ourselves when it comes to putting every generation in a neat, new box. And then the fun stuff comes: we older and “wiser” generations bemoan something about the work ethic or their shaving habits. Millennials have been described as everything from more self-centered to more worldly and charitable, and we in captive insurance need to understand this new “thing” if we want to fill our aging industry with new blood.

Well, I don’t buy it. Yes, every generation has its quirks and trends and signature “look” to some degree, but the young people I talk to who are looking at careers in the captive industry remind me why I have hope in darker moments. They are inquisitive, hardworking and want to help others. Yes, they want a better work-life balance, but who the hell doesn’t! In short, they remind me of every generation of young people looking to enter the workplace, make a mark and do good.  While every business and organization should strive to create a welcoming environment for newcomers, and look at crafting a new and better environment that works for all of us, let’s be careful about pigeonholing our younger colleagues and new entrants to our world. I would even suggest dropping the label Millennials and just treat them as the humans they are. After all, it will be their world tomorrow!

In the meantime, we do have a number of sessions at VCIA’s conference  August 7-9 focused on helping the next generation move into the world of captives, including Bridging the Next Generation of Leaders with Current Leaders, Presenting to Board/Management, and a Young Professionals Forum.

Registration opens May 1, so put it on your calendars!  Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

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