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 for more information – hope you can join us. Thanks and keep in touch!

Rich Smith
VCIA President

The Doctor’s In

Dr RichIn an article in Security Magazine this month which cited the 2015 Travelers Business Risk Index, 44 percent of executives think that business environments are becoming riskier and that businesses are ill prepared for such risks.   I like these studies (as many of you know) because I think they provide good indicators on what’s happening in our world of risk.

Of all the business risks currently in play, medical costs and cyber-risk are seen as the primary risks they are least prepared to handle. The biggest overall concern was medical cost inflation at 33 percent with cyber risk a close second at 29 percent (compared to 2014 when cyber-risk ranked fifth). Other areas cited as major concerns in the survey included global conflicts and political instability.  More than half of businesses noted extreme weather with growing anxiety.

Not surprisingly, we are seeing these risks have increasingly found their way into discussions with captives and risk retention groups. Unlike much risk that is covered under the traditional insurance industry, emerging risks continuously evolve – like a virus. And traditional insurance is like today’s antibiotics – less effective these days in treating the bugs!  Because captives are as mutable as the risks they are meant to mitigate, they are truly the new medicine to fight today’s highly contagious risks!

I hope I will see some of you at the upcoming National Risk Retention Association in Chicago next week. Thanks and keep in touch!

Rich Smith
VCIA President