RIMS: remember it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon…


Just got back from the insurance marathon, better known as the RIMS conference.  This above is the advice Dan Towle, Director of Financial Services for the State of Vermont, gives all of us who attend and work at the Vermont both. Indeed he is correct – I needed to put my feet up for two days after!  And it can be dangerous: we had to dodge the opening night fireworks when a malfunction sent the projectiles into the audience!

Four days in San Diego doesn’t sound like a hardship, does it? And especially when you have so many great people working with you over the course of the event. Besides Dan, there were a number of folks from the Department of Financial Regulation, including Dave Provost, Sandy Bigglestone, Dan Petterson, Jonathan Spencer (what is that story about a rabbit attacking you again?) and Stacy Alden.  Some of our members staffing the cause were Steve Killoran from Maple Capital, Chris Turley from TD Bank, Bob Gagliardi from AIG Insurance Management Services, and Pete Kranz from Beecher Carlson. Include me, Janice Valgoi from VCIA and the intrepid Maddie Moninghoff from Skillet Design & Marketing and every angle was covered.

RIMS is fun, but also a great way to meet our members who attend and talk to the many folks who are considering a captive. Even though over 10,000 people attend RIMS, Vermont stands out as the place to go to cover captives. Great work everyone!

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

Rich Smith,
VCIA President

Don’t call it Chi-Town

legacy.skyscrapercenterI just returned from the National Risk Retention Association (NRRA) national conference in Chicago this week. Just like “Frisco” is frowned upon by the denizens of San Francisco, natives of the Windy City look askance at folks who call their great city “Chi-Town”.  Lessoned learned.

Joe Deems and his crew had a good turnout for the conference. Vermont always has a good attendance for this conference, which is no surprise seeing that over a third of all active RRGs are domiciled in the Green Mountain State. Besides Dave Provost, Sandy Bigglestone and Dan Towle representing the State of Vermont, other Vermonters taking part included Nancy Gray from Aon, Kate Boucher from American Excess Insurance Exchange, Mitch Cantor from ICCIE, Len Crouse and Dustin Partlow from JLT Towner, Christina Kindstedt from Willis,  and John Prescott and Brad Klein from Johnson Lambert.  A panel of RRG owners and VCIA members Tim Padovese of OMIC and Siri Gadbois of EIIA, along with Nancy Gray, spoke to the importance of proactive leadership both within their organizations and outside to strengthen the RRG and captive community. And Lynn Crisci of HAI Group participated on a panel covering cyber security.

Skip Myers of Morris Manning & Martin (and another VCIA member!) provided a refreshing outlook on where the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) focus is regarding RRGs. After many years of scrutiny that included the adoptions by states of model laws and regulations, and governance standards, it looks like the NAIC has run its course and has diverted its attention to other sectors of the broader captive insurance market (will it never end!).

Senator Ben Nelson, the CEO of the NAIC was the keynote speaker at the conference. While I applaud Senator Nelson’s willingness to address the industry, it was clear there is still misunderstanding at the NAIC regarding the role and importance of the RRG industry.  His basic take on RRGs is that they have a very limited scope that should not be broadened. Although he hinted that the market circumstances in the future may provide the impetus to expand the role of RRGs in the insurance market.  Hopefully the willingness to enter into a more open dialog can begin to break down misconceptions and bring better change to the RRG industry.

I will be back in Chi-Town (er, Chicago) this month for one of VCIA’s world-famous Road Shows on October 13th. Go to www.vcia.com for more information – hope you can join us. Thanks and keep in touch!

Rich Smith
VCIA President

The “Greening” of the Captive Insurance Industry

Temple students 2-croppedOne of the concerns that percolates every so often in the captive insurance industry is the need to attract young, bright people to this particular version of risk management. What one of captive insurance’s more thoughtful leaders, Michael Bemi of The National Catholic RRG, calls the graying of the industry. Of course, many trades face this conundrum including the traditional insurance industry; but it is a valid concern for our industry as well.

Well, having just returned from a trip to Philadelphia where I met a bunch of young, bright students of risk management from Temple University, I can say there is hope for us all!  As many of you know, VCIA hosts a number of half-day seminars around the country extolling the virtues of the captive insurance industry (and maybe the virtues of Vermont as a domicile) – we call it our captive Road Show – and we  held one in Philadelphia earlier this week. There, Mike Zuckerman, a professor at Temple’s Fox School of Business in Risk, Insurance and Healthcare Management, and an involved VCIA member and advocate, brought a dozen or so of his students to hear firsthand about captives. And they heard from the best: Anne Marie Towle, Vice President and Senior Consultant, Willis Global Captive Practice; Eric Dethlefs, President & CEO, Cassatt Insurance Group; and Glen Welch, President, Cooperative Partnership Insurance Company. And, of course, the dynamic duo from Vermont: Deputy Commissioner Dave Provost and Director of Financial Service Dan Towle.

It is always a heartening experience as we “older” folks grumble about the youth of today, to meet young folks like this. The students were attentive and poised. They showed real interest in the captive industry and asked great questions. I will continue to be concerned about where the next generation of captive professionals will come from, but meeting these fine folks lets me sleep better at night!

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

Capitol Support!

Rich at Capital crop

Dan Towle from the State of Vermont and I had great meetings on Capitol Hill this week regarding a couple of issues that have dogged the captive insurance industry  for a long time and some that have just flared up. Oh, wait… you are confused by my opening line “great meetings on Capitol Hill” no doubt. Well, perhaps it helps when you meet with staff from Vermont’s Congressional delegation on captive issues. Erica Chabot and Maggie Gendron from Senator Patrick Leahy’s office and Patrick Satalin from Congressman Peter Welch’s office not only gave us their undivided attention, but understand the captive insurance industry and provided excellent advice for us on a number of issues going forward.

The issues we discussed ranged widely:  Next steps in moving the NRRA clarification bill (sponsored by Sen. Leahy and Graham in the Senate and Congressman Peter Welch in the House); a proposal that updates the Liability Risk Retention Act (LRRA);  and the recent proposal from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to revise its regulations governing Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) membership that would define the term “insurance company” to exclude from Bank membership captive insurers.  One of the benefits Vermont captives have is the deep understanding and support of our Congressional delegation (along with our State policy makers and regulators). Although “logjam” is the catchword used more often than not when describing the Hill, it is a real pleasure to work with those who know how to cut through it.

Thank you all very much and I always enjoy hearing from you! Oh, and please follow VCIA on our other social media platforms, too:

  1. On facebook at Vermont Captive Insurance Association
  2. On twitter @vciaconference
  3. On our linkedin group at Vermont Captive Insurance Association