Bookmark this Benchmarking Webinar Happening Next Week!

I can’t tell you how many folks have shared their excitement with me about VCIA’s upcoming Captive Benchmarking Webinar taking place next Wednesday November 16th at 2-3pm EST. It’s been a few years since our last benchmarking program, so it’s high time to update everyone on the health of captive financials in the State of Vermont. This year’s event is gearing up to be one of our most-attended webinars, and you can still get the important data by registering here!

I am lucky enough to moderate a conversation with the above captive financial data wizards, and I wanted to hear from them beforehand why they are excited for next week’s webinar.

With negative year-to-date investment returns reducing both profitability and surplus for captives, it is an opportune time to discuss best practices in benchmark selection for insurance entities that not only considers investment risk tolerances, but also the connection to the risks being underwritten by the captive

Bill piel, President of Institutional Markets, Opus Investment Management

During the webinar, Amy Angell of Milliman, Inc., plans to review surplus levels, identify ways to monitor claims performance, and to evaluate whether risk management programs are having the desired outcomes on the loss experience. She’ll do this all by looking at the hard data of the financial records of the 2021 EOY domiciled captives of the State of Vermont, listed by type of captive and by industry type.

What’s revving her up for next week? She told me point blank: “Benchmarking is a powerful tool that provides meaningful and actionable insights to captive owners.” If you want to start game planning for captive’s financial goals, then there’s no better place to start than our Hot Topics webinar.

Next to Amy will be her accomplished colleagues, Becky Aitchison, Captive Insurance Examiner for the State of Vermont DFR, and Bill Piel, President of the Opus Institutional Markets.

Becky is basically the source keeper the data aggregated and shared annually by the DFR. She will explain the key ratios used by the DFR for the surveillance of your captive’s financial health, and what markers she looks for in determining how a certain captive may or may not be thriving.

From an investment perspective, Bill will let you in on the primary reasons for establishing an investment policy and how the DFR data can help assist with developing an appropriate asset allocation unique to your captive. He will also identify ways to monitor investment performance and evaluate whether results are having the desired impact on your financial statements.

What makes Bill excited for the webinar? “With negative year-to-date investment returns reducing both profitability and surplus for captives, it is an opportune time to discuss best practices in benchmark selection for insurance entities that not only considers investment risk tolerances, but also the connection to the risks being underwritten by the captive.”

So, we have the expert who comes up with the data, and the other experts who will explain how to use the latest data to your benefit. It’s a win win!

I look forward to facilitating a data-driven conversation that looks into how your captive – and the Vermont captive landscape at large – has faired in the last financial year, and what that may say about the future. Remember to register, and “see you” there!

New York City Impressed by VCIA Roadshow

My second VCIA roadshow and it was remarkable in so many ways. On LinkedIn, attendee Isaac Muller said, “It was a fantastic experience as we met industry experts from the insurance and  captive worlds. We listened to them, we learned from them and got to talk to many of them.”

Thanks for hosting, EY!

Immersive sessions had Andrew Baillie sharing his experiences at AES, delivered with his trademark gentle Scottish humor. Presenting with Andrew was Dianne Salter, and she added insight into captive usage in regional medical centers with multiple campuses and thousands of professionals. The regulatory environment was well-covered, and there was a fascinating peek into the future of captives with another panel led by Mikhail Raybshteyn.

Added to this was the view from EY’s new building – peering down 48 floors to the new Moynihan Train Hall and across to the Empire State Building. Not bad, for New York!

That’s it for 2022 roadshows, but our first for 2023 will be in Mexico City. We’re going global! And please, feel free to invite us to your city and learn what captives can do for you, your clients and risk management professionals.

A huge thanks to our sponsors – the State of Vermont, Marsh, AM Best and EY!

I love New York, even though it isn’t mine, the way something has to be, a tree or a street or a house, something, anyway, that belongs to me because I belong to it.

Truman Capote

Vermont Captive’s Smooth Transition Proceeds: Christine Brown Named Next Director of Captive Insurance

Before we gather for #VCIA2022, a few major changes have been placed on the horizon for the State of Vermont and its preeminent Captive Insurance regulatory team–Mr. Captive himself, Dave Provost, retiring into the sunset; his heir apparent, Sandy Bigglestone, ready to assume the Deputy Commissioner role; and now Christine Brown, respected throughout the industry, promoted to Director of Captive Insurance. All three diligent, hard working, and great collaborators. And all three have spent years making Vermont the Gold Standard for captive domiciles. To me, that’s the definition of a stable “transition of power,” and it will only make more captives flock to the Green Mountain State.

Christine Brown

The official press released arrived in my email on Wednesday and you can read it in its entirety on the Vermont Captive website. The good folks at the State of Vermont quoted me on the appointment of Christine Brown to the position of Director of Captive Insurance at the Department of Financial Regulation (DFR): “The quality and stability within captive regulation in Vermont is proven yet again.  What an awesome choice to have Christine Brown succeed Sandy Bigglestone as the Department of Financial Regulation’s next Director of Captive Insurance. Christine has a long relationship with the VCIA and has served as a thought leader within the industry for many years. All of my colleagues here at the VCIA join me in wishing her the best in this appointment, and we look forward to seeing her in a few short weeks at the VCIA conference.”

And I meant every word of it!  In my short time with the VCIA I have already called in favors from Christine that I had not even built up – and she has always delivered. That Vermont has promoted from within for two critical positions speaks volumes of the talent its captive team has retained and cultivated.

During my 20+ year career in captive insurance, I have had the privilege of working with and learning from the best and brightest in the industry, most recently as Assistant Director supporting Sandy Bigglestone and Dave Provost.  I am honored to have been chosen for the Director position under Sandy’s leadership.  I look forward to continuing to grow and support the industry, together with my amazing colleagues at DFR and our valued industry partners as we promote Vermont’s standard of excellence.

Vermont’s Next Director of Captive Insurance Christine Brown

At this year’s VCIA conference you will find Christine at the State of Vermont booth, #40, and around conference events. She’ll be speaking at Captive Immersion on Monday and will cohost a discussion group on Tuesday. Be sure to connect with her and congratulate her on her well-deserved promotion!

Only 17 days until #VCIA2022 kicks off and I don’t want you or your colleagues, or frankly anyone you know related to the captive insurance industry, to miss out! Please be sure to register on our website here. See you in breezy Burlington in August in just a few short weeks!

Remembering Captive Industry Stalwart Andy Sargeant

Ordinarily, my blog posts all somewhat upbeat and (to me at least) somewhat amusing. This is not to be one of those weeks. Because this week, the VCIA, the Vermont captive industry and indeed the captive community globally is marking the passing of Andy Sargeant, formerly of USA Risk Management.  Andy’s retirement predates my arrival here at the VCIA and so I have to leave it to his good friend, Gary Osborne, to remark, “He was a great friend to our community and especially the Vermont community where he added his expertise and knowledge to both the VCIA and ICCIE boards.” Gary goes onto say that Andy was, “one of those rare things – a well-liked and loved boss.” Vermont’s Seven Days newspaper ran a very touching obituary of Andy, and you can find it here.

Andy, you’ll be missed dearly

Please look for a more extensive tribute to Andy in our August newsletter. More importantly, please hold Andy, his family and all those that cherished his friendship in your thoughts at this sad time.

#VCIA2022 Keynotes To Give a Global View of Things

With our early bird period in the rearview, and 700 and counting registrants (!) , we gear up for one more month of celebrating all things #VCIA2022, before our flagship event takes center stage of the captive world in August. By now, you know how important the networking and educational sessions will be. Let me turn your attention to why our two worldly #VCIA2022 keynotes are worth your price of admission. For both history buffs and people interested in politics and economics…we have you covered!

History maker Admiral Michelle Howard will be at the VCIA Conference

First, let’s start with our Special Keynote Speaker who will be closing out #VCIA2022 on Thursday August 11th with an inspiring speech and luncheon. US Navy Admiral Michelle Howard has not only commanded ships at sea but also a deep respect from all branches of the military. She’s a groundbreaking leader who has seen it all, enjoying a distinguished career in national defense within the areas of operations, readiness, and strategic planning.

What stories can she tell? Plenty! A veteran of operations that included NATO peacekeeping, Indonesia tsunami relief, Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom, she was thrust into the international spotlight in 2009 as leader of the counter-piracy task force that rescued civilian Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates!

Hear from her a preview of what she’ll be talking about in her keynote address.

Her keynotes address leadership, cybersecurity, diversity, innovation and team building. To each, she lends experience gained from three decades on the front lines and highest levels of national defense. Bringing the empowering insights of an African-American woman who spent her career shattering glass ceilings and breaking new ground, she continues to motivate others with her highly inspirational presence.

This is what you’ll Get at #VCIA2022!

Next to an iconic military figure, The VCIA Conference has paired a geopolitical whiz as the second keynote speaker. Michael Weidokal, an internationally-recognized economic and geopolitical forecaster who helps business leaders and policy makers comprehend the issues and trends that are impacting the world today AND tomorrow, addresses #VCIA2022 attendees on Tuesday August 9th at 3:45pm.

Michael is the president and founder of International Strategic Analysis (ISA), a leading provider of economic forecasting, international market intelligence and geopolitical analysis with clients all around the globe. ISA is one of the world’s most respected economic and geopolitical research firms, providing research and support for thousands of the world’s leading businesses, governments and universities. Get a glimpse of what he will share at our conference below!

Michael’s ability to combine international economics, geopolitics and history allow him to have a unique perspective on the issues and events that are taking place throughout the world. His areas of expertise include the fields of international economic competitiveness, global market selection and geopolitical risk assessment. Furthermore, he has repeatedly proven to be able to accurately predict important trends and developments before they happen.

Get the Intel from Experts like Michael at #VCIA2022!
Happy Fourth of July!

Have a wonderful, long Independence Day weekend, everyone. Can’t believe we’re basically just a month out from our dynamic captive conference. Thank you to everyone who has worked hard to put it together and additionally to everyone has registered so far. We couldn’t do this without you. P.S👉 registration link for folks that missed the early bird bus. It’s still a great deal! And don’t forget to sign up for our golf tournament!

The Wise Triumvirate: Janice Valgoi, Peggy Companion, Diane Leach advancing VCIA’s mission and strengthening the captive industry

A Director of Finance, Director of Membership, and Director of Education walk into a bar…jokes aside, Peggy Companion, Janice Valgoi, and Diane Leach have been central in building the high reputation and strong impact of VCIA. What drives them? A deep admiration for the good-natured people in the captive industry.

Along with industry-leading educational sessions and curated networking events, VCIA’s 37th Annual Conference is simply going to be blast. It will be a productive AND enjoyable time—guaranteed. That said, I have a couple of fun “branding” initiatives up my sleeve (after all, this will be my first conference as VCIA president, so I want to make it memorable!). Staff trivia will be one of them. Here’s our final staff spotlight, a tripleheader!, on the three smart and experienced women that are vital to VCIA’s success. Read up on all of our staff so you can get to now us a bit better before our big summer event. We’ll pose some staff questions at the conference and if you get them right you could win a nice little gift!

Director of Education Janice Valgoi

Janice in her happy place on Lake Champlain

Since 2012, Janice Valgoi has brought many smiles to people in the captive industry. She takes great care in fostering relationships with people and companies, and works attentively in setting up sponsors for the annual conference while managing member needs throughout the year. Something you may not know about Janice, she used to be a serious synchronized swimmer, doing routines in the water and getting chewed up by Canadian geese. She loves dancing whether on land or sea!

Naturally her mind focuses on the conference this time of year, and when asked about what she’s excited about, she has a difficult time choosing. “To be honest I’m excited about everything! It’s very fulfilling to see everyone benefit from the conference. I think we give sponsors and exhibitors a really great value. There’s nothing better than bringing everyone together and that’s what the 2022 conference will be like. The VCIA staff has worked so hard to put it all together and make it a wonderful experience. It’s a very cool high to complete it!”

Director of Finance Peggy Companion

Peggy enjoying the view

Four weeks into Peggy’s tenure at VCIA the office flooded. Her room was the only part of the floor that didn’t get damaged, and so she stayed in the building while everyone worked remotely. It was quite the initiation. She had just finished an accounting degree after juggling many jobs and working as a single mother. Before graduating, her teacher came to her and said, “I am going to change your life today.” He was neighbors with then VCIA president Molly Lambert and set up a meeting for Peggy with her. Peggy hasn’t looked back (minus the flood!) since.

Raised in Long Island, Peggy has lived in many places: Louisiana, Connecticut, Florida, the list goes on! Her work with VCIA comes back to the people she serves and connects with. “The staff, the industry, they are all lovely, supportive, intelligent people.” She sees this year’s Annual Conference as a great opportunity to witness the positive changes VCIA President Kevin Mead has begun making. “Kevin’s got smart plans and visions for the organization. I’m excited about the pathways he’s creating for VCIA.”

Peggy plays the piano and guitar and wants to brush up on her skills. She sails and golfs when she can, but there’s something else. “Peggy’s hidden talent is that she can be a professional singer. She has a wonderful sense of humor and sings a perfect show tune,” Diane revealed, to Peggy’s chagrin.

Director of Education and Programming Diane Leach

Diane on the trail

October 2022 marks 35 years of employment for Director of Education and Programming Diane Leach. She’s been with VCIA literally from the start. “I keep learning something new with VCIA and the captive industry. It’s what keeps me going, this constant evolution of knowledge.”

Diane puts her heart into designing the annual conference. Of course, this year has added significance because it’s the first time since 2019 that it will be back live and in person. She looks at the VCIA Conference as an enormous tool to solve challenges and brainstorm new ideas for the captive industry, and she finds a common theme that will be on display this August. “Change. Change of the guard with the DFR. Change of leadership with the VCIA. Change with hot topics and the incoming generation of captive professionals. This industry responds well to anticipating needs and providing answers to them, and that’s what the conference will be all about.”

If Diane’s not perfecting details for the conference, she’s seeking out a tranquil place on earth. Nature brings her peace, and practicing yoga has kept her more centered as a person. Her best thinking comes out on the trail, or on the mat. She contributes her well being to the support VCIA has provided. “I have always tried to take care of myself and VCIA has encouraged that for all staff.”

I consider VCIA as my third child. And every year that child gets married again and I get to plan a large wedding to celebrate.

VCIA Director of Education Diane Leach

What’s most important to Diane? Being a mother. “My greatest joy is being the mother of my two daughters. I love the work-life balance VCIA provides. To have been a present parent means so much to me. VCIA has been so kind and generous to me and because of that I consider VCIA as my third child. And every year that child gets married again and I plan a large wedding to celebrate.”

The Wise Triumvirate Shaping VCIA for the Better

Plan Ahead for VCIA’s August Conference

My crystal ball proved correct when I predicted Kansas to win the NCAA Basketball Tournament. My next fortune-telling stunt? I foresee airfare and lodging for our conference to be quite competitive, so book sooner rather than later!

The VCIA Conference is already cropping up on the horizon…

Anyone bet on Kansas based on my advice of last week? Turned out it was the opposite of a kiss of death: the Jayhawks beat Villanova in the Final Four and won a close game against the UNC Tar Heels in the championship! 

I usually have zero ability at this sort of thing, seriously, but I do have another tip for you as solid as the Jayhawks winning it all…

The 2022 VCIA Conference will be epic. I’ve heard from scores of people about how excited they are to return to Vermont. We are a small city (Burlington) and a small state with a big heart. Logistically that means there’s only a limited amount of lodging and airfare options, so it’s crucial you start making your plans quite soon. Some hotels are already fully booked, so follow this link to ensure you receive the conference hotel block discount.

The 2022 VCIA Conference will be epic. I’ve heard from scores of people about how excited they are to return to Vermont.

I would also suggest making airline reservations if you are coming in from out of town. Kayak, among a host of other sites, tracks all available flights to Burlington airport. Like with lodging, the sooner the better!

If you are not on our mailing list, visit our website and sign up through the mailing list pop up bar. You can also submit your information on our conference landing page at http://vcia22.live/bvt and you will be alerted to registration. Our May 16th registration is approaching fast and I encourage you to start putting your plans in place!

I’ve seen the demand to meet in person at other events, and listened to the members and stakeholders talking up our event. With my Kansas prediction, I’ve earned my chops as a fortune teller. This next bet is a bit of a no-brainer!

Hail to 40 Years!

Vermont’s 40th anniversary year of the inception of its captive industry is drawing to a close. Since 1981, Vermont has worked hard to be the top U.S. domicile and continues to strive for excellence. Currently, VCIA is working with Dave Provost and Sandy Bigglestone and their team at DFR to build another captive bill to be introduced into Vermont’s General Assembly.

Over the past two years of COVID challenges, the Gold Standard has never been so apropos as Vermont lead the captive insurance industry in incredible growth and resiliency. I could not be prouder to be a part of this great work.

Brittany Nevins, in her role as Captive Insurance Economic Development Director, has put together a terrific short film highlighting relationships, accomplishments, future goals—and really what it means to be part of the Vermont captive family. I hope you will watch and encourage you to share.

Stay well and see you soon!

Rich Smith,
VCIA President

More Affirmation

Not a surprise to those of us in the captive insurance industry to see the 2021 Captive Benchmarking Survey from Aon highlighting that captive insurance growth is occurring at a level not seen in two decades.  Price increases in primary insurance markets over the past two years have led captive insurance company owners to retain more risk as they look to maintain appropriate levels of coverage while controlling costs.

You only need to talk to the many VCIA members providing services to captives to see how busy they all are. And talking to Dave Provost at Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation confirms the report. Last year saw a big spike in captive formations and it looks like they are on track for a bigger year for 2021.

Aon’s report said that since 2018 they have seen a 73 percent increase in premium retention among the captives it manages. The types of risk covered have grown to include risks that are difficult to place or emerging perils, such as cyber and environmental.  According to the report, over the past 5 years Aon has seen a 650 percent increase in cyber-insurance premiums in captives, while environmental risks have seen a 400 percent premium increase since 2018.

In addition, AM Best released a report in August showing that the operating performance of rated U.S. captive insurance companies continued to surpass that of their commercial market peers in 2020. The captive insurance industry has shown its colors in these trying times over the past few years. It will only pay dividends for their owners in the years to come.

I look forward to seeing many of you at our in-person VCIA Mixers and other events beginning this October.  Until then, stay well!

Rich Smith, President, VCIA

Can We Talk?

As I mentioned last week, collaboration is at the core of what makes VCIA so important to the broader captive insurance industry.  Understanding that, we’ve scheduled several semi-structured, interactive Discussion Groups  during the upcoming VCIA Conference  open to all attendees to allow the captive community a chance to converse with one another around topics of interest.

One group, whose focus is Getting Comfortable with Change, asks questions like ‘how do we accept and learn to even embrace change, and how do we assist our colleagues and clients in embracing change?  What opportunities and risks are developing because of recent events in our world?’ They will also explore how  companies are utilizing  captive programs to mitigate risks and enhance corporate wellness programs.

US Regulatory Realm is a Discussion Group that will give insight into what the NAIC is working on and its impacts on captives.   Lead by Vermont’s Director of Captive Insurance, Sandy Bigglestone, and Zaw Win, a director in DRM’s Business Law and Captive Insurance groups (and chair of VCIA’s Legislative Committee), this is an opportunity to look at the industry from a state regulatory view, allowing the group to discuss and consider a more uniform approach to working through key items as a collective unit.

One group of experts will provide some background on a proposed federal backstop for business interruption and event cancellation claims that occur because of a pandemic or public health emergency. The Pandemic Risk Insurance Act (PRIA), mirrors many of the fundamental mechanics of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) which was established in the wake of September 11, 2001, to help provide adequate terrorism coverage in the United States. Will PRIA be good for captives? Are there other options? Will it pass? Come  join in the discussion to find out.

The certainties of life: death, taxes, and collateral. That is what Ed Koral of BDO, and Jeff Packard of PMA will serve up through a lively exchange of war stories, cautionary tales, and common-sense tips on how to navigate your organization through difficulties with reinsurance or self-insurance collateral requirements. Collateral Without Damage highlights steps you can take to ensure that you are better prepared for contentious negotiations and equipped with more leverage.

Everyone in our industry knows we need to attract and foster the next generation of professionals who will take captive insurance to new heights. Finding a Mentor is perfect for those new to the industry and looking to make their mark, as well as those who are long-standing members of the industry, looking to share knowledge, help someone along, and find a renewed purpose. 

Totally Cellular, Dude! You guessed it, the growth of new cell and sponsored captive formations across all domiciles will cover a brief background on cell/sponsored captives and explore recent developments, innovative uses, reporting and general evolution.

Talk amongst yourselves! The VCIA Annual Conference will be held online August 10 – 12th, which is fast approaching. Take a moment now to check out all the details here and Register Today! Thank you and I look forward to seeing you soon!

Rich Smith
VCIA President