Summer Conference Registration Opens!

Meticulously planning, securing keynotes and hammering out the schedule, we’ve waited all year for this and now the “gates are opened” for our first in-person conference in three years. We can’t wait to gather with the captive industry’s best and brightest this August in Burlington.

Our 2022 Conference is sure to be a memorable one!

We’re officially launched! Please visit our conference registration page to sign up for the biggest and strongest captive insurance event this summer on the global calendar. No matter your experience level, you will find so much in our conference that will develop you professionally and advance your career. We have a full slate of dynamic educational sessions, curated networking and benchmarking events, and an environment conducive for making business deals. Simply put, you are sure to add to you captive knowledge at the 2022 VCIA Conference, and more than that, it will be a triumphant celebration of the captive industry at large. Be sure to follow the #VCIA2022 hashtag on Twitter and LinkedIn.

I should mention (before I enlist you in another conference prize opportunity!) that I highly recommend booking your hotel and travel flight plans as soon as possible in order to avoid any complications. There are rooms still available at the VCIA group rate, but they are going fast, so head to our conference lodging page and be directed to local hotels who carry our group rate.

I’m a horse racing fan and I enjoy placing some modest bets down when I’m at the track. In that spirit, we are expecting a banner year, and as insurance professionals you are all concerned with risk and the odds that something might or might not occur. So, I introduce you to the VCIA version of ‘How Many Jelly Beans are in the Jar?’  I believe that our total attendance count will be 1,048. Are you taking that over or under? My guess includes exhibitors, staff and all classifications of attendees – i.e. anyone with a name badge! Let me know your number, and if I’m the closest, I will make a $50 personal donation to ICCIE (www.iccie.org), the captive insurance industry’s educational non-profit.  If someone beats me, I will make a $100 donation in their name!  We will, of course, also recognize the best prognosticator! Send your guesses to kmead@vcia.com

Need a little help to formulate your guess? Check out our Conference Attendee page to see who has already registered!

How many people will be in attendance at our conference? Take a guess and email Kevin!

See you in August – if not before! 

Productive RISKWORLD RIMS Conference Concludes

My first RIMS Conference is in the bag. What an impressive production the Risk Management Society had. Indeed it felt like “the center of the Risk Management universe” as they say. The experience has further fueled my desire to make VCIA’s August 8th-11th annual conference the best yet!

From a Vermont captive perspective, our trip to San Francisco was very successful. There was a steady stream of captive owners on day one with potential new captives and service providers visiting us. Our travel-sized maple syrup swag and the ice cream rolling in at 10:30 may lured in some hungry prospects, because surely nothing beats ice cream with maple syrup drizzled on top.

Vermont representing strong at RIMS 2022

Even on the final day three the volume of traffic may have slowed, but the quality interactions continued. I still work as a captive student, absorbing as much information as I can about the industry and regulatory processes. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed building out my professional network with so many interesting people. All in all Team Vermont held many solid and productive meetings which generated innovative ideas on how we can help captives thrive in the Green Mountain State.

Shoutout to the State of Vermont’s Captive Insurance Economic Development Director Brittany Nevins who does a terrific job of demonstrating why Vermont’s captive insurance industry is the gold standard for an onshore captive insurance domicile. 

All in all Team Vermont held many solid and productive meetings which generated innovative ideas on how we can help captives thrive in the Green Mountain State.

One interesting aspect was the interest from Latin America – A good harbinger for our planned 2023 Roadshow in Mexico City. Stay tuned for more interesting programs as we continue to develop them!

Captive Insurance and Rugby: Staff Spotlight on President Kevin Mead

Captive Insurance is a bit like rugby. Let me tell you why.

Just three weeks in, and I have quickly learned some truths about the captive insurance industry. Truth number one: how badly it is understood by those outside. Even those that have a knowledge of risk or insurance sometimes seem to shake their heads and mutter darkly when the subject is raised. Truth number two: that external lack of knowledge (or potentially confusion) means that the industry itself is tight knit, cooperative, and friendly.

Over 25 years ago, authors Adam Brandenburger and Barry Nalebuff co-authored a book called Co-Opetition in which they used game theory to suggest that businesses should cooperate to “grow the size of the pie,” and then compete for a larger slice of that enlarged pie.  Seeing the way in which board members and other VCIA volunteers are working together for the benefit of the association and for the industry is almost a case study in what the authors refer to.

“Real success comes from actively shaping the game you play—from making the game you want, not taking the game you find.”

― Barry J. Nalebuff, Co-Opetition

A second thing that has struck me is the number of rugby people there are in the captive industry. And there are similarities! To the uninitiated, rugby looks dangerous, risky, and somewhat unmanaged. To those that know the game, it is subtle, nuanced, athletic, and referred to as “the game they play in heaven.” On the field, rugby players are intensely competitive, but once the final whistle blows the bruises and battles are forgotten and a spirit of camaraderie and mutual support comes to the fore.

So, rugby as a metaphor for captive insurance? Perhaps that is too much of a reach! But my predecessor, Rich Smith, commented to me multiple times that the essence of the VCIA was built around mutual respect, understanding, and a sense of all being in the same league—if not all on the same team.

For me, rugby season is about to start up. This Saturday, the 19th, I will be refereeing at a tournament put on by the University of Vermont women in Burlington. Feel free to check this out or any rugby game in your location and see if my comments on the similarities hold any water! 

Announcing the 2nd Keynote Speaker for our August Conference

Enjoy political thrillers? Then you will need to hear from Michael Weidokal, founder of International Strategic Analysis, at the VCIA Conference!

These days, it’s an understatement to say global geopolitical stability is being challenged—look no further than Ukraine. I often find it difficult keeping up with intricate and sometime disparate elements that bear consequences not just worldwide, but at home. Which is why I’m proud to announce that VCIA has secured a second keynote speaker for our conference in August—Michael Weidokal, founder of International Strategic Analysis, and a shrewd economic and political forecaster. His lecture will be timelier and more relevant than ever.

Founder of International Strategic Analysis and VCIA Conference Keynote Speaker Michael Weidokal

I’ve used Michael as a speaker three times in my career, and I kept coming back to him because he consistently received top marks from audience feedback. I think what makes him so effective is his facility at explaining and distilling global structural challenges, their historical backgrounds, and their potential economic fallout. To put it in a nutshell: Michael combines economic theory and geopolitical situations, rendering them into a real-life political thriller, all the while predicting, with sufficient evidence, how they impact you and your business. You will be both intrigued and informed—hallmarks of a successful and worthwhile keynote address.

Michael combines economic theory and geopolitical situations, rendering them into a real-life political thriller… while predicting… how they impact you and your business.

His deeply researched and vetted lecture, “Global Economic and Risk Outlook,” draws interest from many different industries and conference circuits. According to Michael’s website, the general theme of his speech investigates “factors that are driving or hindering economic growth in the United States and in all of the world’s major economies.” Utilizing the latest data and current events, Michael will provide VCIA Conference attendees “an in-depth analysis of all of the important issues and trends that will impact their activities in domestic and international markets, both in the year ahead and over the long-term.”  

We can’t wait for you to meet Michael Weidokal, and he’s excited too. Learning that our conference is the premier event of the captive industry, he added to me in an email, “I very much look forward to speaking at this year’s VCIA conference!”

Don’t forget he’s the second of two outstanding keynote speakers we now have. The inimitable Admiral Michelle Howard, the first woman in the U.S. Navy’s 236-year history to be promoted to four-star admiral who achieved the second highest-ranking in the service, will share her experiences and insights on national security, leadership, risk, and much more.

VCIA’s 37th Annual Conference Distinguished Keynote, Admiral Michelle Howard

If these two won’t get you to come to our first, in-person conference in three years, what will? I guarantee you amazing and topical presentations, plus wonderful networking and business development opportunities.  I also guarantee you the pleasures of summer in Burlington, Vermont—stunning views of Lake Champlain, the festive atmosphere of Church Street, and quick access away to the lush Green Mountains and the great outdoors. A perfect destination for you and your family.

Registration opens May 16th.

Water, Sun, Mountains, and Captive Insurance…

Welcome, Kevin!

Earlier this month you met our new Communications Director, Francis McGill. Now I would like to take the opportunity to introduce my replacement as President of VCIA, Kevin Mead!

Kevin Mead, new VCIA President

As you may have seen in our announcement earlier this week, Kevin brings a boatload of skills in association management and financial wherewithal based on his experience running a number of associations. (Click here for the official announcement.)

Kevin is a unique fellow: he lives in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom (the most rural part of our rural state), has a British accent, and loves rugby. But more than that, I got to know Kevin over the past few months, and he is truly a nice, decent human being – someone who will fit right into the captive insurance family.

Holding two master’s degrees related to association management and finance, Kevin is the perfect candidate to lead VCIA, build out the captive industry’s flagship conference, increase VCIA membership and membership value, while evolving the organization amid the current pandemic and economic challenges. Above all, he is a true “people’s person.” Our staff is thrilled to have him on board and I know he will make many meaningful and productive relationships with our members.

Although his official start date is February 22nd, Kevin has been hard at work absorbing all things captive insurance and VCIA over the past few weeks. He will be traveling to Miami for the World Captive Forum with VCIA’s own Janice Valgoi and the incredible team from the State of Vermont, so, if you are going to be there, please take the time to reach out and introduce yourself.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

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

The Closer

Don’t miss the VCIA Conference Aug 10 – 12! Panelists for the ‘Hot Topics with Dave Provost’ session, from L to R: Tracy Hassett, Steve Legg, Sandy Bigglestone, Ellen Charnley and Dave Provost

OK, enough with the procrastination! The VCIA Annual Conference starts August 10th, and because it is virtual, folks tend to wait until the last minute to sign up. I understand! But online registration for the event closes Monday at noon – so NOW is the perfect time!  

Besides all the great educations and networking opportunities, the one event during the conference that everyone waits for is Hot Topics with Dave Provost. For those few of you who don’t know Dave, he is the preeminent captive insurance regulator in the world (don’t take my word for – ask anyone) and his knowledge, experience, and sense of humor, provides just the right closing to our much-anticipated captive conference.

The distinguished group joining Dave (see photo above) are Sandy Bigglestone, Vermont’s Director of Captive Insurance (and Dave’s right hand woman).  In 2018, Sandy was a recipient of the Women to Watch Award for her leadership, expertise, and accomplishments in the captive insurance industry by Business Insurance. Ellen Charnley, President of Marsh’s Captive Solutions Practice, is recognized as a global leader in the captive industry. And, Steve Legg, who has been with Starbucks since 1997, serving as director, risk management since 2006. Aptly moderated by VCIA board member, Tracy Hassett, President and CEO of edHEALTH, a first of its kind consortium of colleges and universities with the mission of reducing health care costs while enhancing consumer knowledge of options, plan design, disease management and wellness programs.

This epic group will get you totally up to speed on current developments in captive regulation, key issues facing the industry, future initiatives, increased interest in captives as a response to challenging markets, and much more. You can even ask them questions and provide comments of your own. Don’t miss it!  

So, take this moment to register for VCIA 2021!  Join these experts  and other audience members and share your experience and insight to make the conference even better. YOU are what makes this event incredible!  Check it out here and Register Now!

I look forward to seeing you next week!

Rich Smith, VCIA President

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

Three…Two…One…Ignition

Last week I spoke about the increased interest of parametric insurance in the captive space as evidenced by the number of Ignite Talks coming up at our virtual conference focused on this emerging specialty. However, that is only one of the many topic areas being covered with Ignite Talks by the captive industry at VCIA’s 2021 Annual Conference coming up in three weeks.

We informally polled some of our captive owners to ask them what some of the challenges are that their captives have recently faced. We then asked our members to respond to those challenges (or those they have focused on) and present them in our Solution Labs at the conference. Ignite Talks are short, “TED-Talk” style presentations on these solutions.

Some of the challenge areas besides parametric insurance that will be covered include cyber regulation, captive strategic planning, third party risk, tax strategies, employee benefits, premium payment options, use of InsurTech, cell structures, legacy solutions, mentorship, managing volatility, risk distribution, predictive modelling for workers comp, finance and investment strategies, actuarial impact of the pandemic and situational awareness. Quite an incredible line-up!

The VCIA Annual Conference will be held online August 10 – 12th, which is just 3 weeks away so check it out here and Register Now!

Thank you and I look forward to seeing you soon. 

Rich Smith
VCIA President